Minimum wage hike on November ballot, pending Michigan Supreme Court appeal

The Board of State Canvassers on Friday voted to certify the proposal, following a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling this week ordering a citizen petition to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 to appear on the November ballot. Opponents, including the hospitality industry, have appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Update: Snyder signs bills that weaken Michigan minimum wage, sick leave laws

A proposal to hike Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 over the next four years will appear on the November ballot, pending a successful outcome before the Michigan Supreme Court.

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers on Friday unanimously voted to certify the ballot proposal. Jeannette Bradshaw, a Democratic member of the board, was absent.

Canvassers’ action came days after a Michigan Court of Appeals panel ordered state elections officials to put the proposal on the ballot.

The ballot proposal, backed by a committee called Michigan One Fair Wage, would change state law to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $10 in 2019 and $12 by 2022. That wage rate would apply to restaurant workers and other employees who receive tips, who today are paid below minimum wage.

Minimum wage in Michigan is $9.25 per hour, while tipped workers earn a minimum of $3.52 per hour before tips. Employers are required under state law to pay the difference to workers who don’t earn enough in tips to reach the minimum wage rate.

One Fair Wage representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the board’s vote.

    Opponents to the proposal — led by the hospitality industry — have asked the Michigan Supreme Court to block the proposal in an emergency appeal. State elections officials have until Sept. 7 to finalize ballot language for the Nov. 6 general election.

    Justin Winslow, spokesman for a ballot committee called Michigan Opportunity that opposes the minimum wage initiative and president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association, told Bridge by email Thursday the committee has asked the state’s highest court to return a decision by Aug. 31.

    State canvassers followed a similar process with a ballot initiative to create an independent redistricting commission, backed by a committee called Voters Not Politicians. That proposal also was certified after an appeals court order, about a month before the Supreme Court rejected opponents’ challenge and allowed the measure to appear on the November ballot.

    Michigan Opportunity has said it believes the minimum wage proposal is “misleading and lacks the transparency required by the Michigan constitution.”

    Lawyers for Michigan Opportunity have argued that the proposal is ineligible for the ballot because its language refers to the law that would be changed only by its title, when it should have reprinted the entire law and highlighted what changes would be made.

    Mark Brewer, an attorney for Michigan One Fair Wage, has countered that the ballot language shows the proposal would “supersede” existing state law.

    Hiking the minimum wage has support from groups that advocate for better working conditions for restaurant workers. They have called it “one of the best economic stimulus packages” because it puts more money into workers’ paychecks and, in turn, the economy.

    Restaurant operators are the main backers of the Michigan Opportunity committee opposing the minimum wage proposal. Employer groups have said the proposal, and another certified ballot initiative to mandate paid sick leave, would place too heavy a burden on businesses.

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    Sun, 08/26/2018 - 6:50am

    A tipped worker has to average nearly $6 per hour in tips, just to get to minimum wage. That also has to take into consideration hours when business is slow, and customers who do not tip.

    If you wonder why tipped employees don't stay long at a restaurant, that's why.

    Mon, 08/27/2018 - 11:20am

    Maybe it's a wild guess but I'd wager that since McDonald's is paying $10 - $11 the waitress only making $6 or$8 might moves elsewhere? Or maybe he thinks he makes up for it on other busier days, likes the schedule or any of a dozen other reasons? The fact is that at good restaurants, tipped waiters and waitresses make a good bit more that $12 and maybe it's just the type of restaurants you frequent?

    Erwin Haas
    Mon, 08/27/2018 - 11:46am

    The national minimum wage was raised in July 2017 when the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent; it was 4.7 in August and didn't really normalize for another near decade.
    I oppose this assault on free markets as part of my campaign for Michigan's 26th senate district. I'd hate to have to deal with 10% unemployment; our district is stressed enough....

    Erwin Haas
    Thu, 08/30/2018 - 8:45am

    2007, not 2017

    Wed, 09/05/2018 - 10:45am

    I’d love to see the source of your scaremongering 10% unemployment. What’s that? You don’t have one? What a surprise