Lansing, MI – Community organizing, social justice and labor groups have formed a committee to explore a ballot campaign to raise the minimum wage in Michigan. The minimum wage in Michigan –currently $7.40 an hour – hasn’t been raised since 2008, leaving many families living on wages that have not kept up with the price of goods and services. Tipped workers, like waiters and waitresses, have not received an increase in their minimum wage for over 22 years and currently earn only $2.65 an hour.
Shannon Bryson, 33, of Muskegon is a single mom with two kids, who works part time at a fast food chain and earns minimum wage. “By the time I pay for gas to get to and from work, there’s not much left of my pay check. Raising the minimum wage could do a lot for mothers like me. I see people evicted from their homes because they don’t earn enough to pay their rent, and during this cold, cold winter, I see children whose parents can’t afford to dress them warmly enough.”
Research continues to show strong support for raising the minimum wage both in Michigan and nationally including a majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans (Hart research, July 2013).
Over the last year State Representatives Jon Switalski, of Warren, and Rashida Tlaib, of Detroit, and State Senator Bert Johnson, have introduced various bills to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over three years while also raising the minimum wage for tipped employees and indexing the wage to inflation. Governor Snyder and various legislative leaders have indicated that they will not take up the bills this year. Last fall, Governor Snyder stated that raising the minimum wage was not a “significant issue” for his administration
“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”
“It is impossible to raise a child on a job that pays minimum wage. I worked full time and still only brought home one third of the amount I needed to get a decent apartment. Not to mention childcare costs. Sometimes it feels like I am just working to pay someone else to raise my child,” said Cori Johnson, a 24 year-old mother of one in Detroit who is a member of Mothering Justice.
Members of the coalition will make a formal decision on moving forward with a ballot campaign in the next few weeks.
The coalition includes a diverse set of non-profit organizations including: the Center for Progressive Leadership, Michigan United, MOSES, the Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) Michigan, Mothering Justice and Building Movement Project/ People’s Platform.
The coalition believes that if Lansing won’t act, voters across Michigan will.
Twelve states increased their minimum wage January 1st, 2014.