The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Unions cave in on Michigan's Proposal 2

Dec 20, 2004

Earlier this month, the UAW and four other unions agreed to set aside a part of a contract with the State of Michigan that the workers had already voted to accept.

In October, these unions negotiated contracts for Michigan state workers that included health care benefits for same-sex domestic partners.

On December 1, the State of Michigan said it would set aside that provision, based on the passage of Proposal 2 in the November election.

Proposal 2 was a proposal to amend the state constitution to recognize a marriage between a man and a woman as the only kind of marriage "or any union for any purpose."

When leaders of the UAW and the other four unions agreed to set aside the new contract provision, they said they'd wait for the courts to decide if Proposal 2 outlaws same-sex domestic partnership benefits.

In the months before the election, these unions never said one word about Proposal 2 – allowing something strongly supported by only a vocal minority of the population to pass easily with a majority of the votes.

They never made any kind of stand against this disgusting, reactionary attack into people's private lives. A simple question, spoken loudly and insistently – "Why do you care what other people do so long as they harm no one?" – could have had a big impact on the result.

Instead, the unions said nothing – on this or any of the others of Bush's reactionary campaign attacks, not to mention nothing about the disgusting Iraq war. The largest organizations representing working people left the field wide open for the small minority in the fundamentalist religious Right to push their agenda.

Even when the unions negotiated these health benefits, they accepted the limits placed by the Right, since the benefits were only for same-sex domestic partners. They reinforced the idea that the only legitimate partnership for heterosexual couples is a legally sanctioned marriage; and that the only reason to accept this health care coverage was because gays and lesbians can't legally marry in Michigan.

They may have campaigned against Bush, but they helped pave the way for his victory.

And now, by quietly accepting the state's decision to get rid of this provision, and saying they'll wait for the courts to decide – they're allowing these reactionary attacks to continue.