Hoping to set a precedent for other states, Michigan’s labor unions spent months pushing a referendum to amend the state’s Constitution to prohibit the legislature from ever enacting a law that would curb the powers of public employee unions.
But this push to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the Constitution was roundly defeated in Tuesday’s election, 58 to 42 percent — an embarrassing loss for labor in a state known as a cradle of American unionism.
Just like any other electoral failure, there's bickering about why they didn't get across the finish line. While a close-to-50% failure is more ambiguous, when you fail by 16 percentage points, it should be obvious that what you put forth wasn't popular.
Especially considering this:
The proposal was defeated even though Mr. Obama won the state, 54 to 46 percent, attracting 2.5 million votes. Proposal 2 garnered 600,000 fewer votes, indicating that many Democrats turned against labor on this issue.
Bob King, the U.A.W.’s president, said he was surprised by a survey that found that 55 percent of Michigan voters who said they supported collective bargaining nonetheless said they had voted no on Proposal 2.
That wasn't the only issue on the ballot, though:
The Service Employees International Union had pushed a separate referendum to amend the Constitution to guarantee home-care aides the right to bargain collectively, a move many conservatives denounced for increasing costs for employers and ensuring several million dollars in dues for the union. That measure lost 57 to 43 percent.
Unions had more success with the referendum to repeal the year-old emergency manager law. That measure, pushed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, won 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.
Seems to me that the problem with the unionization ballot issues weren't "messaging", the all-popular excuse for losing, given that one of the proposals favored by public unions in the state won.