News Column

New Ad to Protect Collective Bargaining Released

Aug 14, 2012

Paul Egan

The union-backed group that wants to amend Michigan's constitution to guarantee collective bargaining rights has produced its first TV ad, featuring a 5th-Grade teacher from Warren and a classroom full of children.

The State Board of Canvassers is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether the Protect Our Jobs initiative should be approved for the ballot.

The 30-second ad for the Protect our Jobs initiative features a "Protect Working Families" logo and a news release about the ad was headed, "Campaign to Protect Working Families Releases First Ad." But spokesman Dan Lijana said the group has not changed its name.

"The name of the campaign remains Protect Our Jobs," Lijana said. "The initiative protects working families and that is what we are talking about."

In the ad, which Lijana said is about to start airing in Michigan, teacher Karen Kuciel says collective bargaining is "not just about funding," but about issues important to student success.

"Teachers have collective bargaining so they can fight for things like smaller class size and good materials to help kids learn," Kuciel says in the video.

Lijana could not immediately say how big the ad buy is or where in Michigan it will be airing.

In a report released Monday, elections officials estimated the group submitted nearly 490,000 valid signatures -- easily topping the required number of about 323,000.

Backers of Protect Our Jobs say they are responding to what they see as anti-labor bills introduced and signed into law in Lansing over the last 18 months. The constitutional amendment would also head off "right-to-work" legislation that would make it unlawful to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment.

A business-backed group, Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, is asking both the elections board and the courts to block the ballot initiative.

The group says the initiative is overly broad and does not specify every aspect of the constitution it would amend.

In a release Monday, Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution said Protect Our Jobs attorney Andrew Nickelhoff admitted the initiative was intentionally vague and confusing when he said in a filing with the board of canvassers that if the initiative passes, "its interaction with existing constitutional provisions, laws and ordinances will be determined by the courts on a case-by-case basis..."

At its meeting Wednesday morning, the Board of Canvassers is expected to vote on three other proposed initiatives to amend the constitution. Backers of all three measures collected more than enough signatures, elections staff said in reports released Monday.

State election officials took no position on the challenges to the collective bargaining or the casinos initiatives.

Also up for a vote Wednesday is the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs initiative to increase Michigan's renewable energy requirement to 25%, and the Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care initiative that would provide limited collective bargaining rights to home health care workers.

Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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