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Masterpiece or Paint By Numbers

By:  Bob Carroll – Executive Vice President @ Permanent Solutions Labor Consultants

(Our Success at PSLabor Lies in Our Inside Edge!)

If you are like most people, you are sick and tired of watching the political ads that consume our TV in the days leading up to the election.  As if the ads are not an annoyance, trying to decipher the truth behind the ads can be a quagmire of wasted cranial energy.

As a former union fire fighter, I have watched an ad here in Michigan where a firefighter is dressed from head to toe in his turnout gear speaking in a sullen voice and talking about how firefighters will not be able to perform their jobs safely without the passage of Proposal 2.  Proposal 2 would embed language into the State of Michigan Constitution guaranteeing workers in both public and private sectors the right to Collective Bargaining.  A few things started jumping out of my television screen to run around my mind after the commercial ended.  My first thought was that I was provided with the best equipment in the fire service without a “constitutional right” to bargain collectively.  Then I remembered that public and private workers in Michigan do have the right to bargain collectively under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and Michigan’s Public Employee Relations Act (PERA).  I also remember a group called the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that recommends minimum standards for equipment, staffing and training to even work on a fire scene.  Every fire department I know of follows NFPA standards. So I began to dig deeper.  What is this proposal really about?

Then, right before the next installment of The Voice came to my screen, I saw a serious looking policeman standing in front of me on my “idiot box”.  With a stern look, he looked right at me through the TV and said something about how voting Yes to Proposal 2 would lead to sexual predators walking around in my kids school.  I thought to myself, “What do sexual predators have to do with collective bargaining?” You see, I could not figure out how the passage of this proposal could lead to deviant sexual predators in my daughter’s school.

With my mind spinning looking for answers I decided the next best thing to do would be to hit up the Internet and find the answer to my latest quest for knowledge.  I really wanted to know where I personally stood with Proposal 2.  So, I Googled Proposal 2.  I found page after page with seemingly meaningless opinions from individuals and groups stating how good or how bad the proposal is for the “working families” in Michigan.  I thought, “How can so many people be so vocal about this thing?”  I thought in jest, “Michigan is a union friendly state so surely this is a good thing for union brothers and sisters”.  But then I thought a bit more clearly and developed my own conclusion in regards to this “Protect Working Families” proposal after a little more research.

The Mackinac Center on Public Policy has estimated that this proposal can cost taxpayers up to 1.6 billion dollars.  If they are even close to correct, this would effect union workers and non-union workers alike.  Union workers would be hit with a double whammy because they have to pay union dues on top of added costs of living that trickle down from added burdens on municipalities.  Where will those costs come from?  I’m not an economics expert or expert on public policy by any means, but it is very easy to see that a few things are likely to happen if this proposal is added to the Constitution.  First of all, Michigan unions will be protected from the State becoming a Right to Work state like Indiana.  Second of all, the union friendly fire will be stoked and an increase in organizing workers will occur in the State of Michigan.  Thirdly, municipalities will not have the benefit (and yes I say benefit) of State intervention under the Emergency Manager law where union contracts can be suspended in cases where the municipality simply cannot pay for them.   In other words, the unions will get the blood from a stone.  And finally, businesses that wish to maintain their union free status will not move operations to the State.

Looking deeper into this proposal, I found that the unions themselves were instrumental in leading the charge in collecting the signatures needed to bring this to ballot.  Heck, they gloated about this on their websites. The ones in power in the unions carefully planned this out.  I am confident that a regular union firefighter, cop or teacher did not sit down one day and mastermind this plan.  They are busy doing what they do – saving lives, protecting citizens and teaching our children.  This took time and resources to accomplish.  This was something that was calculated and well planned.  This proposal is simply, in my opinion, a show of power by union leaders to grasp onto what little membership they have in the State in an attempt to rebuild an institution that has seen it’s heyday.

Back to the absurdity of the ads.  One claimed to threaten the safety of our firefighters and the other threatened the safety of the children in the classroom. In reality firefighters will get their safety gear.  In reality, sexual predators will not freely roam my daughter’s school.  The biggest reality to remember is that everyone has a choice to make on Election Day.  It is up to each and every person voting to do your homework.   Know what each question on the ballot is about.  Know your proposals and know your candidates.  If you simply go by what you see on TV you could be voting for the opposite of your own ideologies and what you truly intended on voting on.  Michigan is not the only state to have battling ads laced with hyped up claims.  This is a nationwide concern.  When people say the government is messing up America, they are half correct.  It is the people we put into government that affect us all.  It is the proposals that we vote for that they act on.  If we do not truly know who were are putting in office or what proposals we are passing then we, as citizens have no legitimate reason to complain.  When you are watching these ads on TV it is like looking at a beautiful piece of art hanging in someone’s garage.  It looks like a masterpiece on the surface but under the first layer of paint lies a paint by numbers portrait of a clown done with finger paints.

  1. Gail G. Sanderson
    October 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Good info, Bob – Thanks for your insights!

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