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Michigan battleground: Unions push to protect rights at the ballot box

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RECOMMENDED: A primer on labor unions' clout in America

As the battle shifts to Michigan, labor unions have already committed $8 million to the bid to shield their collective bargaining power from further legislative rollbacks, known as "Protect Our Jobs."

The ballot effort is a “preemptive strike” by unions to make sure that “Wisconsin and Ohio don’t come to Michigan,” says Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. 

“Unions are seeing that they have to get this into the legislation while they can, because things can get a lot worse,” he says, citing the protracted court battles and advocacy spending on both sides in other Midwest states. “They want to inoculate themselves from further harm and are trying to frame [union rights] in such a way [that] it becomes very difficult for their political opponent to fight it.”

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