Win for Michigan workers

January 24, 2023

From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters

Detroit–At last over 600,000 Michigan workers will receive increased minimum wages and earn paid sick leave, thanks to a court ruling this summer overturning a 2018 law the state legislature had quickly and cynically passed. The court thus pre-empted a minimum wage ballot proposal that had been heading for adoption in an upcoming election.

 “Sweet victory!” one might say. However, the legislature, in the tradition of “bait and switch,” had employed an “adopt and amend” tactic to gut the law, including delaying an increased minimum wage until 2030!

A coalition of non-profit and activist organizations, MI Time to Care, was formed, including Mothering Justice and Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United).

The coalition went to court to fight for Michigan workers. It took years, and millions in lost wages and paid sick leave, but the new ruling takes effect this Feb. 19.

Under the ruling, at businesses with 10 or fewer employees, workers can now earn 40 hours of paid sick leave annually; at larger businesses, up to 72 hours per year. Michigan’s minimum wage will rise to $13.03 per hour, $11.73 for tipped workers.

Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled that the legislature’s action was unconstitutional. Therefore the original provisions of the ballot proposal still stand.

This “adopt and amend” kind of tactic is but one of the methods Republicans are using to undermine democracy. Even though Michigan’s legislature now has a Democratic majority, we must remain vigilant and nip these moves in the bud!

—Union member

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