Politics & Government
11:22 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Minimum wage campaign begins collecting names

The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage will now begin collecting signatures.

A state panel gave the petition campaign the OK to go ahead. The Board of State Canvassers said the petition complies with the law, and now the campaign has until mid-May to collect 258,000 valid signatures. That would put the question to the Legislature. If lawmakers don’t adopt it, then it would go on the November ballot.

“We think it’s essential that working people who are truly working hard to stay out of poverty truly have a fighting chance to do so,” said Frank Houston, who's with the “Raise Michigan” campaign. “It gives them a fair opportunity to work their way into the middle class.”                    

Houston’s group wants to gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017. It would also end the exemption that allows employers to pay less to workers who earn tips.

“A tip is supposed to be a reward for good service, not a subsidy to restaurant employers who pay their servers just $2.65 an hour,” said Yannet Lathrop, a researcher for the Michigan League for Public Policy, who is working with the campaign. She says the exception puts an even bigger financial burden on restaurant workers.

 

Business groups are opposed to the minimum wage increase. They say it will tamp down hiring.

Justin Winslow of the Michigan Restaurant Association says ending the tipped employees exception would particularly hurt his industry.

“Not only are we talking about slowing the economy and jobs actually being lost, but when you’re talking about some mom-and-pop restaurants actually closing their doors permanently, I think that has a real effect in some communities,” he said.