As Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan work to cement their anti-worker agenda into our states’ laws during their petulant, sore loser session before they lose significant political power in 2019, perhaps the most outrageous is the effort to take away sick time pay for workers in over 93% of Michigan’s firms. This is because they changed the threshold for exemption from the law by raising number of employees a company employs from 5 — the number spelled out in the proposed ballot proposal they scuttled — to 50.
The most recent census data, from 2015, shows that Michigan has 162,003 firms with fewer than 50 employees. That’s out of a total of 173,309 firms. In other words, 93.5% of the firms in Michigan would be exempted from having to allow their employees earn paid sick time leave.
This, of course, is precisely the reason they passed legislation before the election that prevented this issue from from going on the ballot. They wanted to be able to thwart the will of the voters with a simple majority vote rather than needing 75% of the vote had it passed as a ballot proposal.
Of course, this is not ALL they did. They also made it harder for employees to actually earn paid sick time and capped the number of hours they could earn among other things:
On minimum wage, instead of raising it to $12 per hour by 2022, the bill raises it to $12.05 by 2030. And tipped workers such as bartenders and wait staff, who also were supposed to see a $12-hour wage more gradually by 2024, will see their wages only rise to $4.58 by 2030. If a tipped worker’s tips don’t reach $12.05, the employer is required to make up the difference.
The change from $12 to $12.05 was an attempt to make up for the fact that the new bill no longer ties hourly wages to the rate of inflation. The current $9.25 minimum wage, which was passed in 2014, ties the wage to the rate of inflation that would have ended up increasing the minimum wage to more than $12 by 2030.
Paid sick time, which was supposed to accrue to one hour for every 30 hours worked, or 72 hours per year, was cut to one hour for every 35 hours worked, or a maximum of 40 hours per year. And businesses with 50 or fewer employees were exempted from the paid sick time provisions. The ballot proposal would have exempted businesses with five or fewer employees.
The bill now sits on the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder. Unlike his counterpart in Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Gov. Snyder has, on a very scant number of occasions, gone against his Republican colleagues in the state legislature. However, he is also the same corporatist who signed “Right to Work” legislation into law and along with numerous other bills that benefit corporations over workers.
Gov. Snyder has already established his legacy as the governor who poisoned an entire metropolitan city’s water supply with a powerful neurotoxin. What remains to be seen is if he also wants to be known as the man who thwarted democracy in order to promote the interests of corporations over the interests of workers on his way out the door. Given that his legacy is likely already cemented, forever tying him to the Flint Water Crisis, it seems likely that he’ll do whatever he can to ingratiate himself with the corporate interests that can make his life after he leaves office as lucrative as possible. This seems even more likely when you consider that, according to the Detroit Free Press‘s reporting, “Gov. Rick Snyder worked on the bills with the House and Senate.”
Let’s hope I’m wrong.
Write and call Gov. Snyder and tell him to veto Senate Bills 1171 and 1175. Here’s the information that you need:
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
You can reach Governor Rick Snyder by telephone at: 517-373-3400
[Snyder caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]