Collective Bargaining in Mich.
A proposal to protect collective bargaining rights for Michigan workers should be on the ballot this fall, after the Michigan Court of Appeals broke a political deadlock between Democrats and Republicans on the four-member Board of State Canvassers to rule that the union-backed proposal must be placed on Michigan’s November 6, 2012 ballot.
The initiative, titled Protect Our Jobs, seeks to protect workers’ rights to “organize and bargain collectively through labor unions” via an amendment to the state constitution. It would invalidate any existing legislation that limits workers’ rights to join unions, collectively bargain, or work free of labor regulations that infringe on collective bargaining agreements, now or in the future.
Karla Swift, President of the Michigan State AFL-CIO issued a statement in support of the court’s ruling saying, “Corporate special interests pushed Lansing politicians to pressure the court leading up to the decision. The court confirmed there is no legal reason to deny people the opportunity to vote on the proposal.”
Unions will be working hard now through election day to get the word out about the initiative. “The right to collectively bargain is fundamental in our country,” said Communications Workers of America staff representative Mike Schulte. “We’ve had volunteers throughout the state, canvassing neighborhoods to educate voters on the amendment and encouraging voters to support working families by voting yes.”
Apparel Groups Urge Port Workers to Resume Talks
The looming threat of longshore strikes at major Gulf and East Coast trading ports has sparked three apparel groups to urge workers to return to the negotiating table before their current contracts expire on Sept 30, 2012.
In a September 4, 2012 letter to the United States Maritime Alliance (USMA) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), apparel groups wrote: “We at the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the Travel Goods Association (TGA), Gemini Shippers Association, and the Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA) urge both parties to swiftly return to negotiations to work out a suitable Master Contract for port employees and avoid work stoppages and slowdowns as we enter the busy holiday preseason.”
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest commercial port with workers affected by the expiring contract. ILA Local 1804-1, which represents about 1,200 members in the Port of New York and 3,500 in New Jersey, voted unanimously to authorize a strike if a new agreement was not reached by the end of the current contract.