KALAMAZOO – Michigan United community leaders in Kalamazoo took the festive holiday tradition of caroling and added an activist twist. They created carols with lyrics about raising Michigan’s minimum wage and visited the houses of their state representatives, Margaret O’Brien, Tonya Schuitmaker, and Sean McCann.
“Through our Christmas carols, we are raising awareness about the need to raise Michigan’s minimum wage,” says Pat Early, a member of the caroling group. “We want to spread Christmas cheer while addressing this important issue,” added another caroler from Portage, Randy Iuliano.
Since August, the group has been calling on the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2016. They have also been trying to schedule a meeting with Governor Snyder to discuss wages and poverty. They hope that he will be a leader in Lansing and work to rally support for this issue.
Michigan United believes that the political gridlock in Lansing is not allowing for common sense policies to be passed. Raising the minimum wage is something that both Democrat and Republican-led legislatures and Governors have done in the past. The group believes it is important for the minimum wage to be raised so that it can maintain its value and purchasing power. The purchasing power of Michigan’s minimum wage has currently decreased to a point where a full-time job at minimum wage pay will still keep a family in poverty.
Caroler, Brenda Hahn, who lives in Kalamazoo, adds, “We hope that as people are celebrating the goodness of the season, they will understand that there are people out there struggling to bring home the Christmas cheer to their families. We think that raising minimum wage is one step our state government could take toward addressing poverty and fair pay.”