NOTE: this story has been updated HERE.
The Republican-led House Government Operations Committee passed a substitute to S.B. 934 that reduces the final minimum wage to $8.50/hour and strips out indexing the minimum wage to inflation, ensuring that, if it is passed, workers will not keep up with the shrinking value of the dollars they earn. $8.50/hour means that full-time minimum wage workers will earn a mere $44 extra per week before taxes and that won’t happen for three more years.
According to my sources, the full House could pass the bill yet today without suspending rules. The Senate would have to suspend rules to take it up today. The Senate can agree to House version which I am told is unlikely, amend House version which is also unlikely, or send the bill to a conference committee to hammer out a compromise bill. The conference committee must give 6 hours notice before meeting and, since it is a Senate bill, a Senator will chair the conference committee and decide if/when to call a meeting
It’s clear, based on this callous move, that Michigan House Republicans don’t want to raise the minimum wage at all and are passing this token and insulting legislation simply to avoid letting Michigan voters decide for themselves if it should rise by more and give a raise to our working poor workers.
Meanwhile, the Raise Michigan ballot initiative will turn in its signatures tomorrow to put a citizen-initiated ballot proposal on the November ballot to repeal the current law and replace it with one that raises the minimum wage to $10.10 over time, indexed to inflation, and will give tipped workers parity with their non-tipped counterparts. They held press conferences in Detroit, Flint, and Kalamazoo today to announce that their petition signature gathering is complete. They will finish up tomorrow with one in Lansing where they will turn in their petitions.
Courts have traditionally sided with voter-initiated efforts so it is very likely that this scam by Michigan Republicans to favor corporations over workers will not go well from them.
Sam Inglot from Progress Michigan attended the House hearing last week and shared his observations at the Progress Michigan blog. Here are a couple of the more salient observations:
- The business and corporate lobby didn’t have one single woman testify today on an issue that overwhelmingly affects women. Nor did they have a single worker testify.
- Nearly all the business owners that lobbyists brought before the committee said they paid their workers above the minimum wage. And yet, they went on record saying a higher minimum wage would somehow hurt their business.
The Detroit Free Press released poll findings today showing that over half (56%) of Michiganders favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and more than half (54%) also think what Republicans are doing to thwart the ballot initiative is wrong.
Pollster Bernie Porn was blunt in his analysis:
“The blatant way they’re dealing with it — by eliminating the law — is meeting with great disfavor, even among Republican (respondents).
“They could pay a price this election by trying to get it off the ballot.”
If Democrats and minimum wage activists have anything to say about it, he is absolutely right.
UPDATE: The Michigan AFL-CIO put out this call to action this afternoon:
Brothers and Sisters:
On May 15, the Michigan Senate passed a minimum wage bill with bi-partisan support.
Early this morning, the House Government Operations Committee gutted the minimum wage bill drastically lowering the increase, untethering minimum wage from inflation, and reducing the increase for tipped workers.
This assault on the minimum wage bill flies in the face of public opinion and undermines the hard work of those that have organized to raise the minimum wage.
Please call your state representative – Republican, Democrat, or Independent and tell them you want to see real solutions, not political gamesmanship. Restore the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act [SB 934] as passed by the Senate on May 15, 2014 and pass it in the House.