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|Saturday, October 13, 2012
Shocked Reaction To Potential U.A.W., Moroun Alliance
DETROIT - Democrats and Republicans alike say they are flabbergasted at the discussions occurring between the United Auto Workers and Moroun family about a deal in which the UAW would back the ballot proposal sought by the Morouns designed to block the proposed new bridge to Canada in exchange for the Morouns supporting the collective bargaining proposal.
Reports of the deal, which surfaced this week first in The Detroit News and then in the Detroit Free Press, caught virtually the entire political establishment off-guard.
Democratic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, offered varying accounts of where the discussions stood. By some accounts, the deal is done. By other accounts, there are discussions, but no deal yet.
UAW spokesperson Michele Martin did not return a message, but told the Free Press for a Thursday story, "We are still studying the issue and when we make a decision, we will make an announcement."
While no one could say for sure, the most obvious reason UAW President Bob King would link arms with Manuel "Matty" Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge who is doing everything he can to stop the new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is money. Moroun is a billionaire who already has poured untold millions into stopping the bridge.
Proposal 12-2, which would enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the Constitution and nullify any existing or future law that would infringe upon that right, is a top priority of King's.
And by most accounts, it is in serious danger of failing to win voter approval November 6. A Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll published Friday showed that 43.2 percent of those polled said they would vote for the proposal while 41.8 percent said they would vote no. Generally, a ballot proposal must poll well ahead of 50 percent to have a chance of passing because undecided voters tend to overwhelmingly vote no.
So far, the coalition of unions funding Protect Working Families, the committee pushing Proposal 2, has essentially matched the business executives and organizations funding the opposition campaign in television advertising. Moroun money could give the ballot proposal a spending advantage, although one Democrat said Proposal 2's problem is not lack of funding, but the devastating messaging used against it by the opposition.
Meanwhile, Moroun's Proposal 12-6, which would require a statewide vote of approval to authorize a new international border crossing, continues to poll weakly despite an unrelenting barrage of television advertising and statewide mailings. The News/WDIV poll showed 45.3 percent supporting it and 43.2 percent in opposition. While supporters of the bridge say the proposal cannot retroactively require a vote on the Crossing Agreement signed in June by Michigan and Canadian officials, the Morouns surely will take that issue to court if the proposal passes.
Backing from the UAW would likely mean heavy communication to UAW members and retirees to support Proposal 6 and provide the proposal with its first major organizational support.
On the Democratic side, many reacted with disgust to the potential move and fumed at King. Proposal 2 is almost surely going down to defeat, Moroun money or no Moroun money, they said. So to repudiate the bridge, known as the New International Trade Crossing, which has been a top Democratic priority, makes no sense. Additionally, others said Governor Rick Snyder, a top supporter of the NITC, has managed to keep right-to-work legislation at bay, but maybe he might not be so reticent given the magnitude of this type of move by the UAW.
One Democrat said King's apparent handling of this deal mirrored how he handled the rollout of Proposal 2 - making a major decision on his own without consulting others.
Martin, the UAW spokesperson, also caught many off guard when she told the Free Press the UAW had no position on Snyder's bridge proposal. A slew of people said that is simply at odds with the UAW's long history of support for the project.
One Democrat said the UAW was very active in lobbying for the passage of SB 410 , the bill that would have set up the authority to authorize the crossing, prior to its defeat in a Senate committee. Additionally, King is a vice chair and UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada is co-chair of the Economic Alliance, a top supporter of the new bridge. Bret Jackson, head of the Economic Alliance, said Friday that the group remains supportive of the new bridge.
Former Governor James Blanchard, a top supporter of the new bridge, said the UAW was "a listed supporter for many years." But he also said, "That doesn't mean they can't change their mind."
Still, Blanchard said he did not believe what he called rumors of a UAW-Moroun deal. He said no one has given him concrete evidence of it.
"Which is why I wouldn't frankly insult them by calling them up and asking them," he said.
The new bridge would be the largest jobs project on Michigan's future agenda, Blanchard said, and no one would benefit more than the auto industry.
"I have a hard time believing they would not support it," he said.
Paradoxically, the Democratic Party, which is heavily influenced by the UAW, unveiled a new web video Thursday night tying Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman and Justice Brian Zahra, Republican nominees up for election this year, to Moroun in a negative way. The ad criticizes Moroun for trying to preserve his bridge "monopoly" by contributing heavily to Markman and Zahra's campaign committees and then noting both justices ruled for the Morouns when opponents challenged whether the proposal was constitutional.
This story was provided by Gongwer News Service. To subscribe, click on Gongwer.Com
Author: Staff Writer
Gongwer News Service