Minimum Wage Turmoil Churns On in Lansing

While the world awaits Gov. Rick Snyder’s response to legislative action that essentially guts the minimum wage laws the legislature itself had passed this fall, there are sharply contrasting responses on multiple fronts.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, for example, issued the following statement on the Michigan House’s action to undercut petition-driven proposals to raise the minimum wage and make paid sick time available to all workers. The statement comes from League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs:

“This action by the House to gut efforts to increase the minimum wage and secure earned sick time for all workers is extremely disappointing. With the passage of these bills, legislative Republicans in both chambers have ignored their colleagues from across the aisle, the protesters in the Capitol, countless organizations and advocacy groups like ours, almost 800,000 signatures of voters who worked to put this on the ballot and the nearly 8 million voters who never got to have their say on it.

This is not only wrong in principle but in policy as well. The legislation passed Tuesday maintains an inequitable tipped wage, increases the minimum wage at a slower rate and does not tie it to inflation, meaning it will stagnate and fail to serve its literal, intended purpose almost immediately. As for the changes to sick leave, while the petition-driven proposal would have provided paid sick leave for all Michigan workers, this bill immediately disenfranchises 1 million workers who are employed by businesses with fewer than 50 workers. The legislation also means it will take longer for workers to accrue paid sick time, and slashes the amount of sick time they are able to earn.”

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The League’s senior policy analyst Peter Ruark testified in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee and submitted written testimony opposing the Senate bills to tamper with the minimum wage and paid sick leave proposals.

Meanwhile, in sharp contrast, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association issued comments by President & CEO Justin Winslow. Here’s his take:

“We commend the legislature for their leadership in fostering a prudent path forward on Michigan’s minimum wage and for listening to the voices of thousands of restaurant workers across our state who asked them to save the tip credit.  The evidence has been clear from the start that our vibrant tipping culture has created more opportunity, generated higher wages and produced more jobs for Michigan residents than its absence ever could. While this compromise solution will present some challenges for the restaurant and lodging industries going forward, we take some comfort in knowing that thousands of anxious restaurant operators and more than one hundred thousand restaurant workers can now rest assured that their livelihood is no longer threatened.”

Gov. Snyder is being heavily lobbied to veto the state legislature’s actions. Stay tuned.