A referendum to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Michigan state constitution failed to pass last night, according to reports from the Great Lakes State.
With about 95 percent of precincts reporting, the vote is 58 percent against the measure, known as Proposal 1, and 42 percent for it, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The measure would have covered both public and private workers, and it would have made it impossible to pass "right to work" legislation prohibiting unions from charging "agency fees" for workers who don't join unions. It also would probably have invalidated a law that passed last year in Michigan limiting the scope of collective bargaining.
The education implications of the proposal were not entirely clear, but it would certainly have impacted, and perhaps invalidated, parts of education reform laws passed in 2011 overhauling teacher tenure, evaluations, and requiring parents to be notified if their children are taught by ineffective teachers.
Now, it appears those laws will stand.
Unions poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the referendum, with Michigan Education Association reportedly spending about half a million, so a defeat comes as a big disappointment to them.
But, there's a silver lining in this election cycle for that camp: In a second referendum on the state's emergency financial manager law, 52 percent voted to end the law and 48 percent to keep it.
To unions' chagrin, that law gave managers the powers to override or end contracts. Detroit's emergency manager had already moved to impose new contract terms, infuriating the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Such actions will apparently no longer be permissible, though it will probably take a while to figure out what happens now for the Motor City's teachers.