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Michigan's 'Prop 2' Battle Heats Up

Proposal 2 graphic   Courtesy of: mea.org
Proposal 2 graphic Courtesy of: mea.org
October 3, 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. - With organized labor losing ground in Wisconsin and Indiana, the battle over Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot is gaining a lot of attention.

"Prop 2" would guarantee public and private workers the right to form unions and bargain collectively. Both sides have been accused of stretching the truth in their arguments on the measure. Dearborn public school teacher John Beyerl says he wishes voters would use some common sense in sorting out the issue.

"We wouldn't go in and ask for a 400 percent pay raise, because it would break the company. Likewise, we wouldn't go in and ask for something that would harm our profession."

Michigan labor leaders say Gov. Rick Snyder's emergency management law has eroded the rights of workers in many cities. They believe a constitutional amendment is needed to protect working families.

The Michigan "truth squad" made up of journalists says Prop 2 opponents have come up with some wild claims about children not being protected in the classrooms. Labor lawyers say all teachers undergo background checks, that any who violate the law are subject to prosecution - and that Proposal 2 won't change that.

Bayerl says teachers know better than to make unreasonable demands.

"There are plenty of opportunities now for charter schools and private schools. It is not in my interest as a teacher to do anything that would make my public school less marketable."

Bayerl says he's tired of the attack ads - and is keeping his priorities straight.

"It's frustrating, but I do my part to try and educate people. The best thing I can do is turn out fantastic students."

If voters approve Prop 2, Michigan would become the first state to have collective bargaining guaranteed under its Constitution.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MI