As part of the passage of a new law that did an end-run around citizen efforts to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10/hour over time, today Michigan’s minimum wage rises to $8.15/hour for non-tipped workers. The minimum wage for tipped workers will be 38% of that starting today, as well. Still, a new report by the United Way shows that 40% of the households in Michigan are either in poverty or are in so-called ALICE households – Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. In other words, two out of five Michigan households don’t make enough money to pay all of their bills each month.
Also, as I mentioned yesterday, Michigan teachers have seen their wages drop by 8.2% from 1999 to 2012 when adjusted for inflation.
When Rick Snyder came into office in 2011, he promised that he would “create more and better jobs”. Unfortunately for all of us, he has largely failed to do that and Michigan continues to have the third highest unemployment rate in the country. 63% of our jobs pay less than $20/hour and in nearly three quarters of our towns, 30% of households cannot afford basic necessities.
After the Labor Day picnics and barbeques, it’s time for us to get serious about the coming election. Michiganders have a stark contrast before them. On one side we have the Republicans who have time and time again shown their allegiance is to corporate America and wealthy Michiganders. They have trampled the rights of workers, worked to destroy unions, and undermined their ability to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of their members. In the world they envision, workers’ wages will continue to decrease with the profits and fruits of their labor flowing into the bank accounts of the business owners and their shareholders.
On the other side we have the Democrats who have struggled valiantly to hold the line against the attacks on middle income and low income families and workers. They have proven to be the allies of the middle class and of working Michiganders and point the way toward a new, more economically robust path for Michigan where EVERYONE benefits, not just the rich and the corporations.
Starting tomorrow, I challenge all of the readers of Eclectablog to join me in canvassing and phonebanking and all of the other tasks that go into getting out the vote. I am committing to canvassing twice a week between now and election day. It’s time for all of us to get out from behind the keyboards and start having real, one-on-one conversations with our neighbors about what is at stake in this election. We face an incredible amount of corporate money working to elect Republicans. My standard line during the get out the vote (GOTV) trainings that I do is, “These canvas packs are the only thing that beats Super PACs.” And it’s true.
So, enjoy the day. Celebrate our workers with some hamburgers, hot dogs, veggies burgers, chips, and potato salad or whatever your tradition is. Then, tomorrow, join me in committing to making a serious effort to help our Democratic candidates win across the state.
It’s not hyperbole to say that, in Michigan, on November 4, 2014, our very democracy is at stake.