LANSING, Mich., Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The initiative petition to cut skilled construction worker pay by ending prevailing wage policies in the state has an insufficient number of valid signatures and should not be certified for consideration by the Michigan Legislature, Protect Michigan Jobs announced today.
A challenge to the petition filed today with the Secretary of State's office showing that barely half of the 388,000 signatures collected by Protecting Michigan Taxpayers were valid.
"Because (Protecting Michigan Taxpayers) has filed far less than the required 252,523 valid signatures, Challenger, Protect Michigan Jobs, respectfully requests that this Board deny certification of Protecting Michigan Taxpayers' proposed initiative petition," the challenge states.
"In addition, Challenger Protect Michigan Jobs calls upon this Board, the Secretary of State and the Bureau of Elections to investigate what appears to be widespread and pervasive violations of Michigan Election Law. That more than 40 percent of the signatures filed are unequivocally invalid can lead to no other conclusion but that the entire signature gathering process was, at best, careless and at worst, fraudulent, thereby tainting the entire initiative process in our State," it says.
Chris Fisher, vice president of the anti-construction worker PMT, claimed in September that "Nearly 400,000 voters have signed their names on the dotted line." Fisher's group announced it had hired a petition management company, Silver Bullet LLC, which used collection agents it claimed were well-trained and held to high ethical standards. The collectors, many from outside of Michigan, were paid for each signature turned in.
Protect Michigan Jobs has on its web site, www.MichiganPrevails.com, a video showing petition collectors lied to people to get them to sign the petition.
Now, after painstaking examination of the signatures, it turns out nearly half of those turned in are not valid. Some signatures came from people who were not registered voters. Other persons signed multiple times, in violation of state law. Even some of the petition collectors signed repeatedly – even though the petition itself says signing more than once violated election law.
To determine if PMT had sufficient signatures, the Secretary of State's office pulled a sample of 509 signatures at random. To certify the petition for consideration by the Legislature, PMT needed 347 or 69 percent to be found valid. If 347 to 315 were found valid, the state would have pulled a larger sample to examine. Under 314, the petition should be denied, according to policies of the Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections.
The Bureau of Elections found 154 invalid signatures, mostly of unregistered voters, knocking the number of valid signatures in the sample down to 355.
Protect Michigan Jobs' detailed review found 65 of the 355 accepted by the Bureau of Elections were duplicates. State law says that someone signing the petition more than once invalidates all signatures. That brought the number of valid signatures to 290 – well below the threshold for denial.
If additional registration and circulator duplicate challenges are accepted, that would remove even more signatures, bringing the number of valid signatures down to 267 or a meager 52 percent validity rate.
"The validity rate of the signatures submitted by Petitioners is the lowest percentage of any state level filing of an initiative or referendum petition in the history of such filings in Michigan!" the challenge states.
Bart Carrigan, a co-chair of Protect Michigan Jobs and President and CEO of Associated General Contractors of Michigan, called on the Board of State Canvassers to move quickly to dismiss the petitions.
"Eliminating prevailing wage to cut wages and benefits of hard working skilled trades men and women in our state hurt the Michigan economy, aggravating current worker shortages in the industry and discouraging young people from entering these valuable professions," said Crawford. "Let's end this attack on skilled trade workers and the companies who hire them as quickly as possible, so we can focus on building a better Michigan."
Pat Devlin, a co-chair of Protect Michigan Jobs and Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Building Trades Council representing unionized construction workers, said he was not surprised to find so few valid signatures.
"Polling shows the vast majority of state voters are opposed to ending these policies that help working men and women and ensure quality, safe construction of public buildings. I would hope Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette would investigate and hold accountable all who have participated in this scheme, from the out-of-state collectors to those managing this devious campaign," Devlin said.
John Pirich of Honigman Miller Schwarz and Cohn law firm and Alan Fox of Practical Political Consulting led the team that examined the petitions and filed the challenge for Protect Michigan Jobs.
Michigan Prevails is made up of virtually every construction association in the state and major building trades organizations representing more than 100,000 skilled trades workers in Michigan. For more information, visit www.michiganprevails.com.
Paid for with regulated funds by Protect Michigan Jobs, 1026 N. Washington Ave, Lansing MI 48906
SOURCE Protect Michigan Jobs