minimum

In September, Michigan Republicans voted to raise the minimum wage. This was part of a strategy they used to keep voters from being able to pass a wage hike on their own.

Now that the midterms are over, those wage hikes have been gutted.

“There’s no question they plan on making dramatic changes, if not repealing it altogether,” said Michigan’s Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) in September.

Democrats also called the tactic tantamount to voter suppression, unprecedented, and potentially unconstitutional.

The Michigan One Fair Wage campaign aimed to have the minimum wage for all workers, tipped and not, raised to $12/hour by 2022. But the Michigan senate changed the timetable on Wednesday to $12/hour by 2030.

Worse for One Fair Wage, tipped workers will only see a fraction of the increase they were promised — $4/hour by 2030.

The amendments to the September legislation also slashed the rate at which paid sick leave was supposed to accrue.

Michigan Democrats have called this a naked attempt to prevent the voters from having a say on minimum wage increases. As Grit Post previously reported, if Michigan voters had passed a ballot initiative, it would’ve taken a three-fourths majority vote to gut the law. But by enacting it before the election and thus removing it from the ballot, Republicans were able to reverse course with only a simple majority.

“The answer is that you don’t like the results of the election and negotiations won’t work out the way you want to in the next session,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing). “I’m willing to negotiate, but I will not support a blatant disregard of our democracy.”

With a vote of 26-12 mostly along party lines, Republicans would not have been able to abandon or seriously curtail a ballot initiative the way they have done to their own law.

Given how heavily a blue wave swept through Michigan, it is reasonable to assume that had One Fair Wage been on the ballot, it likely would have passed.

“The fact that over 400,000 people signed the petition who want this to be the standard should prompt the legislature to vote against the changes,” said Ann Arbor restaurant owner Joel Panozzo. “As a business owner, I want the state legislature to support businesses like me.”

Most restaurateurs aren’t like Panozzo, though. The Michigan Restaurant Association staunchly opposed the One Fair Wage campaign, particularly the effort to pay tipped workers the normal minimum wage.

Michigan’s House of Representatives is expected to vote on the evisceration of One Fair Wage next week.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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