With only six days left until Michigan voters head to the polls to cast their ballots on Proposal 2, a broad coalition of supporters who are backing better wages and safer working conditions, environmental leaders and local workers spoke out about the importance of voting yes on Proposal 2 in Michigan. Proposal 2 ensures that future generations benefit from basic rights that give workers a say when it comes to protecting their health, as well as negotiating and enforcing agreements between themselves and their employers.
“Collective bargaining means safer workers, safer communities and better jobs for all of us. Workers who can collectively bargain not only protect themselves, they also safeguard our neighborhoods, our communities and our environment, and raise up the wages and benefits for all of us,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “It’s important that we pull together to build on that progress and give working families the opportunity to provide better lives for their children, and Prop 2 does just that.”
Proposal 2 protects collective bargaining rights and prevents attempts to weaken these protections in the future.
“Everyone who values clean environments and safe, secure and prosperous communities should support this critical ballot initiative,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “The rights secured by Proposal 2 are essential for strengthening and protecting the hardworking, middle-class families who are the backbone of Michigan communities.”
“Some Michigan lawmakers are doing everything they can to abolish workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain,” said Mark Schauer, National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. “But, giving Michigan’s working families a voice to negotiate for fair wages, benefits and working conditions that are good for them and safe for our communities and our environment is as important today as it ever has been.”
At a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan this week in support of Proposal 2, event participants spoke specifically to the protections that make the middle class strong by ensuring workers have a voice in their workplace and in the nation’s policies, advocating more equitable wages, humane work conditions, and improved benefits. Joining Sierra Club and the BlueGreen Alliance in outspoken support of the proposal were local workers, the Union of Scientists and Michigan Clean Water Action.
“We can and we must protect the rights of working people in Michigan,” said Kevin Riley, a meat cutter at Meijer in Grand Rapids. “Putting these rights in our constitution is something the politicians and corporations cannot take away, and it will benefit future generations of Michiganders, both economically and environmentally. We must stand together to protect the right to negotiate for good jobs with cleaner, safer and healthier workplaces.”
“We cannot afford to go back to a time when corporations could make up the rules as they go along, regarding working conditions, workplace safety, environmental protection and worker pay,” said Ben Scheid, an AT&T worker. “Michigan’s workers and families can’t afford it, that’s why I support Proposal 2.”
The supporters said that without collective bargaining rights our environment is endangered and workers face more risks on the job.
“Collective bargaining rights are as American as apple pie,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “These rights have strengthened our democracy and our economy by protecting working families from exploitation and by expanding economic opportunities. The overt, well-funded attacks on workers’ rights are like the overt, well-funded attacks on science that we have been fighting— and both, if successful, would weaken our democracy.”
“Collective bargaining has been the driving force behind improved work place safety and protecting Michigan workers from over exposure to toxic chemicals,” said Nic Clark, Executive Director of Michigan Clean Water Action. “Clean Water Action is proud to stand with labor on voting yes for Proposal 2.”
WPRR 1680 AM Radio Working Family Radio Network, Grand Rapids, MI October 26, 2012 (interview starts at 35:40)
WPRR 1680 AM Radio Working Family Radio Network, Grand Rapids, MI October 29, 2012 (interview starts at 44:00)
WKZO AM 590/FM 96.5 Kalamazoo, MI, October 29, 2012 (not available online)
Gongwer News Service: Environmental Groups Join Collective Bargaining Proposal Proponents, October 29, 2012 (Excerpt, subscription required)
The BlueGreen Alliance and the Sierra Club joined major unions backing the proposal to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Constitution on Monday, citing safer working environments and better-paying jobs as reasons to get involved.