It’s hardly a return to the Depression era, when company guards roughed up labor organizers at auto plants. But times are tough for unions in the Rust Belt, even in such a longtime bastion as Michigan. Here, emergency managers have been given the power to throw out union contracts in financially struggling cities. Neighboring Wisconsin has stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights and Indiana has approved ‘‘right-to-work’’ legislation. Now, after a series of setbacks at the hands of Republican governors and legislatures, labor is attempting a bold gambit in hopes of regaining some momentum: a first-of-its-kind ballot initiative in the Nov. 6 election that would put collective bargaining rights in the Michigan constitution — and out of lawmakers’ reach.
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