Ballot effort underway to raise Mich. minimum wage

Groups backing an increase in Michigan's minimum wage laid the groundwork Monday for a statewide ballot drive in November, forming a committee that is very likely to commence with collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify.
AP Wire
Jan 28, 2014

"Our politicians in Lansing and D.C. have failed workers. There are a lot of people who work hard who've been waiting for a raise," said Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee.

Michigan's $7.40-an-hour minimum wage last went up in 2008 and is slightly higher than the $7.25 federal hourly minimum. Republicans have not embraced calls by both President Barack Obama and Michigan Democrats to raise the minimum wage to $10 at the federal and state levels. Democrats are planning to make income inequality a top issue this election year.

"All indications are that we're highly likely to move forward," said Houston, who also is chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party. "We fully expect Michigan to be the No. 1 place in the country where we're having a conversation around economic dignity and inequality."

The coalition involved includes labor unions, community organizers, a restaurant worker center, and faith-based and civil rights groups. The groups sent out statements Monday from low-wage mothers who said their income is not enough to get by.

"If you work full-time you shouldn't live in poverty," said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo.

A final decision to proceed is expected within days. The proposal would likely aim to change a state statute, not change the state constitution. The minimum wage would rise to the "ballpark" of between $9 and $10.10 an hour and be indexed to inflation, Houston said.

Republicans have said hiking the minimum wage would hurt employers' ability to hire people. The restaurant industry says it already operates on thin margins and argues sharply higher wages would lead to steeper prices.

"If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers, lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase," said Wendy Block, director of health policy and human resources for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The group said businesses already are grappling with costs associated with the federal health care law and that government should focus on helping people get jobs, not make it more expensive to hire them.

In November, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer proposed increasing the hourly minimum to $9.25 over three years. He said it would aid the consumer-driven economy by putting more money in employees' pockets and give low-wage workers the same buying power as 1968, when the wage had its highest purchasing power.

A message seeking comment was left for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is up for re-election. He has said raising the wage could have negative consequences.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson, who has wanted to avoid ballot issues this year to stay focused on candidate campaigns, said in a statement that it was not surprising to see "a lot of energy surrounding this issue. Democrats at all levels are fighting to increase the minimum wage because we believe that people who work hard and play by the rules deserve a fair shot at supporting themselves and their families."

Comments

LIAMD

Only Idiot's think this way by raising MW = fewer hours worked = fewer employees needed = increase in the price point for the product = fewer sales = see point number 1. Abolish the MW all together, it's criminal and self defeating to the employee.(your only worth $9.00/hr cuz that's what the MW says I have to pay...)

Former Grandhavenite

I'd invite anyone opposed to this to try living on the minimum wage for a month- just try it and see how long you last. Ideally for extra realism, you'll have quite a few mouths to feed on that income and a broken down car as well. Even better would be to keep watching Fox News the whole time you do this experiment so you'll hear every day how the poor just have it waaay too easy, what with all the government handouts, etc that they get.

LessThanAmused

One could only hope that the handle LIAMD does NOT mean Lia is a doctor. It might be a erronerous assumption on my part that doctors as a general rule are smarter than this person's posts would indicate....

Wolverine49457

Minimum wage is not nor was ever intended to be a "living wage", it was and is a starting point more aimed at those first time employees so they could get their feet wet with less risk to the company, it was never intended to support entire families, albeit the lousy economy makes this unfortunate situation in the first place but the fix is not over pay for mundane tasks.

Wolverine49457

Minimum wage is not nor was ever intended to be a "living wage", it was and is a starting point more aimed at those first time employees so they could get their feet wet with less risk to the company, it was never intended to support entire families, albeit the lousy economy makes this unfortunate situation in the first place but the fix is not over pay for mundane tasks.

bigdeal

sure, get rid of minimum wage, and let the market decide wages. Like restaurants do, they pay wait staff $2.50/hr because all you big tippers are leaving them a quarter. Heck, they get paid a living wage, why supplement it with tips? Minimum wage should be closer to $10/hr, yes to start out getting their feet wet, and as a guideline to employers. If they think you are worth it, they give you a raise. Anyone on here get a raise lately???

Tri-cities realist

Would the wait staff prefer being paid minimum wage but have the restaurant take 2/3 of their tips, since $2.50 is roughly 1/3 of the minimum wage? I think most would prefer the current system.

bigdeal

yeah, right. The wait staff really likes it the way it is, they don't want MW increased. And the employer takes the tips?? WTH kind of accounting are you even talking about? Welcome home from a hard day at the place that really doesn't need or want you, have another drink on me!

LIAMD

You get paid what your worth and if you don't like it take matters into your own hand,expand your opportunities & show some personal responsibility, work hard,stay focused,get educated and advance your career. Why would any sane person limit themselves to the current MW or the proposed $10/hr? How demeaning..limiting ones potential to a MW outlook..just pathetic.

jlebrasseur

I guess with this logic, I am not worth a penny...

Get real.

Some people go WELL above and beyond and are still paid peanuts. If employers were allowed to, I bet many would pay next to nothing, even compared to the current minimum wage, while their companies rake in record profits. I guess that is trickle down economics for you...

Look at dining establishments... Nobody is limiting them to only paying their employees a bit over $2/hr, yet they do, because the law says they can. Get rid of the minimum wage and other employers will follow suit.

LIAMD

I disagree with your worth jle...the ignorance in your reply is pricele$$ !Oh those Eeeeevil companies and eeevil profits. Why would anyone go "well above and beyond,..get peanuts" and stick around for that employer ? =stupid. Yep, pay next to nothing and retain the very best and brightest employees..that makes perfect sense as well. Waiters/Waitress..the law says they must get payed min.$2/hr. What you left out(must have been an oversight) is the average wage including tips he/she makes is closer to $16 to $22/ hr. Again,if your sharp and really good as a waiter/waitress you can exceed the required MW and who knows what other opportunities might come along. Sick and tired of feeling sorry for yourself then do something about it.

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