KALAMAZOO–Wednesday evening, Governor Rick Snyder was in Kalamazoo as the keynote speaker for the 10th anniversary of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center. The center helps develop life science businesses that primarily focus on health. Dozens of protesters stood outside the Radisson Plaza Hotel to send a clear message to Snyder that $7.40 an hour can not support a single person or a family.
Michigan United, community leaders, Good Jobs Now, as well as low wage workers and people of faith held signs and chants that $7.40, the current minimum wage has got to go. They say they can’t live on what they’re making. Dozens stood outside in the rain/snow mix wanted to have a serious discussion with Governor Snyder who was inside the Radisson hotel in downtown Kalamazoo at a celebration for the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.
Numerous speakers echoed the importance of boosting the local economy as well as creating sustainability is to increase the minimum wage. A study released by the Michigan League for Public Policy reports that since 1968, the value of the minimum wage has dropped by 20%. The report also finds that most low-wage workers in Michigan who would be affected by a raise in the minimum wage are over the age of 20(84%) and work at least 20 hours a week.
The demonstrators sent a letter to the Governor’s Office last week, calling for action. A 2012 population survey by the Economic Policy Institute suggests that one our of every four workers, which is roughly 958,000 would benefit from raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour. Over half of workers making minimum wage have some college education or degrees.
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) has introduced bill (H.B 4554) that would raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10 per hour and index it to rise automatically with the cost of living each year. This would also include a raise for tipped workers who have not seen a increase from $2.65 an hour in decades.
Currently, Michigan’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Five states, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee — have no minimum wage law, according to the United States Department of Labor.
H.B. 4554 has not been embraced by Republicans who control the Legislature. GOP legislative leaders say hiking the minimum wage would hurt employers’ ability to hire people.
According to National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates that the boost in hourly wage would create over 9,600 new full-time jobs in Michigan stimulating over 1 billion dollars in economic activity that would be created if the minimum wage were raised to $10 an hour