ECONOMIC JUSTICE COALITION FORMS “RAISE MICHIGAN” COMMITTEE TO EXPLORE POTENTIAL 2014 MINIMUM WAGE BALLOT CAMPAIGN

Lansing, MI – Community organizing, social justice and labor groups have formed Lets Get Moneya 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.

Kalamazoo Group Goes Caroling with Lyrics About Raising Minimum Wage

KALAMAZOO – Michigan United community leaders in Kalamazoo took the Michigan United Carolersfestive 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.”

 

 

Follow Up Meeting To Recent PCB Rally In Edison Neighborhood

(Kalamazoo, MI)-Michigan United organizers and community supporters will host a community meeting to keep the conversation going about the PCB’s clean up at the Allied Paper landfill in Kalamazoo’s Edison neighborhood.

The community is invited to attend the meeting for the “Cleanup Not Coverup” campaign scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, in the gym of St. Joseph’s Church, 930 Lake Street.

A panel of community leaders and those closest to the resolution will be able to answer any questions.

Celebrate The Work Of Immigrants And Call For Immigration Reform In Bronson Park

Michigan United, immigrants and community supporters from various cities throughout SW Michigan will meet in Kalamazoo, MI for “Working Hand” National Day of Action Wednesday.

Kalamazoo is one on many cities around the country honoring the work of immigrants and bring more awareness to a much needed overall to immigration reform.

 

The rally is set for May 1, 2013 at Bronson Park 12pm-1PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

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