Labor — February 28, 2014 at 7:09 am

Michigan’s Big Business coalition ramps up campaign against raising minimum wage


As groups around the state prepare to gather signatures to put a proposal on the ballot to raise Michigan’s minimum wage, a coalition of businessmen is preparing to fight the proposal tooth and nail.

Before you bust my chops for using the phrase “businessmen”, take a look at video from the event. Other than Sen. Rebecca Warren, there do not appear to be ANY women there among the mostly white men:

The group plans to use a four-prong strategy to defeat the ballot initiative:

  1. Block the petition drive by taking it to court
  2. Undermine the petition drive through advertising and other means to discourage people from signing the petition
  3. Fight the proposal if it does go on the ballot
  4. Turn to Republican lawmakers to pass laws to prevent an increase in the minimum wage
  5. These people want to ensure that our lowest-paid workers stay right where they are. It’s an ample source of low-cost labor for Michigan businesses who will spend enormous amounts of money and energy to preserve it.

    Detroiter Sherryl McCray, a member of the Michigan United minimum wage committee, issued a statement saying, “I’m disgusted that corporate lobbyists who are making millions would consider filing frivolous lawsuits to stop working people from getting a raise. Companies like McDonald’s and Walmart are making record profits while their workers have to go on food stamps. These companies should spend that money on fair wages instead of lawyers and lobbyists.”

    There are a lot of myths propagated about the raising of the minimum wage. For example, that it is a job-killer. It’s not. In fact, according to Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman, “the great preponderance of the evidence from these natural experiments points to little if any negative effect of minimum wage increases on employment.”

    One of the people interviewed in video above says that if the minimum wage is raised, it will “put pressure” on other employers to raise their wages, as well. There is virtually no evidence for this but it is put forth as fact, unchallenged by the journalist who asked it.

    The fact is, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.74/hour right now, not $7.40. Every Walmart employee or other minimum wage employee who collects government assistance like food stamps represents a government subsidy of that business since they don’t pay their employees enough to make ends meet. It’s time to end this indirect subsidy of businesses and pay people a living wage.

    By the way, this is not just a “workers issue”. It’s a “women’s issue”, as well. 64% of the people working in minimum wage jobs are women.

    At the end of the day, it’s good for the economy and we should all support that.

    [CC Diego Rivera photo credit: Vasenka | Flickr]