Backers want voters to OK minimum wage of $9.50

Backers of a $9.50 hourly minimum wage in Michigan sought approval Monday to collect signatures needed to put their measure on the ballot in November.
AP Wire
Feb 11, 2014

If Raise Michigan gathers roughly 258,000 valid signatures by the late May deadline, the proposed law would first go the Republican-led Legislature, which would have 40 days to vote or leave it to voters. Since GOP lawmakers have not embraced raising the state's minimum wage above $7.40, the measure would likely head to a statewide vote.

Legislators also could reject the legislation and approve their own minimum wage bill, in which case both measures would be put before voters.

The drive to increase the wage was first announced two weeks ago, but labor unions, community organizers and other groups leading the effort did not detail specifics of the proposal — including the exact wage hike — until Monday, when petition language was submitted to the secretary of state's office.

"We need to raise the minimum wage to at least $9.50 an hour to ensure a family of three has a fighting chance to get out of poverty," said Frank Houston, treasurer of the ballot committee and director of Restaurant Opportunities Center-Michigan, which advocates for restaurant workers.

A worker making $9.50 per hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns $19,760 — right at the federal poverty level for a family of three this year.

Michigan's minimum wage is slightly higher than the $7.25 federal minimum.

Under the proposal, the $7.40 wage would increase by 50 cents in January 2015, and again six months later. The final $1.10 increase would occur in January 2016 and automatically rise in the future with inflation.

The minimum wage for tipped employees is currently $2.65. That would increase 85 cents each year, starting in January 2015, until it reaches the minimum wage for other workers.

Critics say raising the minimum wage would hurt the economy.

"Given that Michigan currently has an 8.4 percent unemployment rate, we believe government and voters should be focused on policies to help workers get jobs, not actively increasing the cost of hiring workers and creating barriers to entry," said Jim Holcomb, senior vice president of business advocacy and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who is up for re-election, has said increasing the wage could have negative consequences.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, who like other Democrats is making income inequality a top issue, has proposed increasing the hourly minimum to $9.25 over three years. He says 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.

Raise Michigan: http://www.raisemichigan.com/

Comments

Wolverine49457

Income inequality used to be an incentive, now it’s used to demonize those who have worked harder at being successful…you want to make my wages? Work weekends and nights at becoming the best at what you do while paying off a student loan for ten years or maybe 20, invest in yourself and it will pay dividends later on in life when you are wise enough to know what to do with a good income. If the minimum wage law goes into effect do you really think that will mean no more screwed up fast food orders or store clerks will automatically be worth asking a question because their making a bit more money?...yeah...hold your breath.

LIAMD

FOOLS..Your best employees get the best pay, not a MW mandate. But because we have MW that's all the employer feels he has to pay. Get ready for even more un employment because consumer prices for product will now have to increase as they are forced to pay $ 9.50 and we will buy less of that product as a result or not purchase all together which in turn will lead to fired or laid off employees and around we go. FOOLS

Citizen

Well, the migrant labor would be exempt as it has been. So at least non-fast-food food prices shouldn't shoot up as high as manufactured goods prices. Aren't those mostly made overseas anyway?

ddv

Exactly LIAMD! I don't understand why so many people can't grasp this!

Lanivan

LIAMD - Actually, you have it all wrong. Extensive studies have shown that raising the minimum wage has a direct stimulus to the economy, as people on the lower wage spectrum tend to spend their extra money, unlike the super-wealthy who tend to invest or save it.

It also often allows people to get off food stamps and other government entitlements. People are paying more taxes and buying more goods, which in turn leads to more employment as businesses hire to meet greater demand. This all has a stimulus effect on an otherwise stagnant economic and employment scenario.

Oh, and by the way, most businesses will pay whatever is necessary to hire, retain, and reward the best workers that will enable them to compete and make a profit. Right now, many corporations such as Walmart will pay minimum or close to minimum wages to part-time workers, knowing they will qualify for food stamps, even though they are working. We, then, pay this corporate welfare through our taxes, subsidizing the Walmart's and McDonald's of the world.

ddv

It may stimulate the economy at first, but after a certain point, it does cause unnecessary inflation. The price of things like housing and certain products can and will rise just because of the fact that people have more money to spend on those things. Some small businesses will suffer as well. Even if they're not currently paying minimum wage, they'll have to increase wages because of needing to stay ABOVE min. wage.

I do agree with your last paragraph though.

Lanivan

The key to your comment is the word "unnecessary". Many economists argue that some inflation is 'necessary' to jump-start the stagnant economy. Controlled inflation, if you will. My point is that there is another way of looking at an increase in the minimum wage that has more positive connotations than what you and LIAMD offered.

As a small business co-owner, a raise to $9.00+ Michigan minimum wage would not affect me adversely, but I realize it might for some. My take is that if it attracts a higher quality worker who gives $9.00+/hour in value to the business' growth and profitability, it will pay for itself.

Tri-cities realist

By raising the minimum wage, you will not magically transform your employees into being more highly skilled. Or are you supporting the practice of businesses to fire all of their current MW workers, and hire those who are worth the new higher MW? That would definitely help the poor... err not so much.

winggirl

Increased minimum wage = job loss. What small business is going to survive? How many high school students will be employed after this fiasco? Leave it to the government to kill commerce.

ddv

Seriously. People don't understand! The money has to come from somewhere.

zwesterhouse

CEO pay for McDiabetes is $50 million dollars. His many vice presidents making $25 million dollars. No one seems to be griping about those pay scales!!! Then why not??? I hope we get to vote on it. I'll vote yes even if they want raised to $15/hr. Walmart CEO's and Vices make millions and millions. If minimum wage goes up to $15/hr (which I know won't happen) The poor CEO will have to take pay cut down to maybe 8 million dollars - awe its hard to feel sorry for those cry babies. No more vacation homes in 5 states. AWE no more fleet of antique muscle cars to play with. Can only have three 1957 chevys instead of a dozen.
AWE can't send spoiled little Johnny to private school at $150,000 a semester. I want to vote to raise the minimum wage because I feel people making low wages like that are being abused, oppressed, treated like dirt - and sick of tired of seeing them suffer. And shame on you corporate bosses who oppress your workers while paying yourselves millions and millions.

Citizen

I don't think CEO rates are based on how much spare cash the business has. If anything, this might push CEO rates higher still because the business will be more challenging to run. Isn't the theory that increased MW drives up everyone's wage?

Not saying that I want poor people to be poor, but I think overpaid executives are a separate issue. Doesn't look too good though!

ddv

Right. The money is most likely going to be coming from increased product costs. If McDonald's has to pay their workers more, they're going to have less workers and raise their food prices for consumers. Thus, inflation. When the price of products increase, then the minimum wage increase is now meaningless as everything is now costing more. I don't understand why so many people can't understand this!

HueJastle

The price of everything goes up, The value of the dollar goes down. People need more money. Good or bad that is the reality.

LIAMD

Hate to disappoint Zwesterhouse but a CEO will never make less money nor will they sell one of there 5 houses, just doesn't work that way. Your ignorance on how the global market place works is unfortunate. Companies pay $9.50 a week in Mexico and elsewhere let alone $9.50/hr here in the states. That will not change no matter how much you jack the MW, it will only encourage the 'mean and evil' CEO achiever to shift jobs to other countries in order to keep their product price point at competitive global levels. Wake up, the manufacturing jobs and MW wage jobs are long gone and technology advances will only enhance the situation. A vote for MW is a vote for ignorance and loss of employment leading to greater inflation. Jealousy, anger and vengeance are not healthy attributes.

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