minimum wage

There’s an old saying that conservative lawmakers are for local control, except when they’re not.

Meaning, whenever local units of government want to do something that they don’t like.

Now, we’ve learned that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, believes in democracy, except when he doesn’t.

In the past, Richardville has staunchly supported Michigan voters’ decisions to outlaw gay marriage and affirmative action.

But he doesn’t want to allow voters to vote to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

It now seems likely that supporters of the higher minimum will collect enough signatures to put a proposition doing so on the November ballot.

Now, it would be one thing to campaign against this amendment, and encourage people to vote it down.

That would be perfectly legitimate, regardless of whether you agree.


Republican state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, may have just turned up the heat in the fight over increasing Michigan’s minimum wage. But the petition campaign – headed by Raise Michigan – is already planning its pushback.

Richardville proposed yesterday his own legislation to raise the state minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15, and a boost for tipped workers, too. But, really, this is not so much about raising the minimum wage as derailing the petition drive underway to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour plus a really big raise for tipped workers.

The Richardville proposal is separate from an earlier bill sponsored by Senator Rick Jones, R-Eaton Rapids, that would also raise the minimum wage. That one also meant to blunt the petition drive.

Both were introduced because it appears the petition drive is on track to turn in the necessary number of signatures before the deadline at the end of the month. Under the Michigan Constitution, once those signatures are certified, the state Legislature would have 40 days to vote it into law. If it doesn’t – the question goes on the November ballot.

And the polling shows, it’s pretty popular. Popular enough, Democrats hope, to boost turnout among their voters who tend to stay home in mid-term elections.

Last week at noon I snuck over to a little restaurant near Detroit’s Eastern Market that usually isn't very crowded.

The place isn’t fine dining, but it’s quiet, I like their food, and they left me alone for a romantic hour-long interval with coffee and a bunch of term papers on the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

My server is usually a woman I’ll call Stephanie, who is sweet, efficient and a trifle careworn. I think she is in her mid-40s, I know she has kids, and she has worked there for 18 years. 

My bill was about $9, and I left Stephanie$3, which sounds generous – after all, that’s more than the 15 to 20% they say you are supposed to tip. But afterwards I realized what I gave her was outrageously cheap.

I know the restaurant, and Stephanie is almost certainly being paid the minimum wage of $2.65 an hour. She had no more than three tables while I was there. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow is criticizing her Republican Senate colleagues for blocking a vote on increasing the federal minimum wage.

The bill would have gradually increased the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

Democrats say it would have helped millions of low-income families.

Stabenow says GOP opposition to the wage hike and to legislation to require equal pay for women is "unacceptable".

“This is really the one-two punch that hurts women in Michigan,” says Stabenow. 

Jake Neher / MPRN

Women’s rights advocates say boosting the state’s minimum wage would be a big step toward equal pay in the workplace. Groups backing both causes joined forces Tuesday during an equal pay rally at the state Capitol.

“Women are disproportionately represented in low-wage work. So, when we raise the minimum wage we are raising them a little bit more out of poverty,” said Danielle Atkinson with Raise Michigan, a coalition working to put a minimum wage increase on the November ballot.

Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan voters could see a question about increasing the minimum wage on the ballot this year. A petition drive is under way to collect enough signatures. But one Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage in Michigan. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour and an increase from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour for tipped workers.

“I’m suggesting that this is a good alternative," Jones says. "I don’t want to see all these waiters and waitresses lose these jobs; many of them are single moms who depend on this income and this is very good income for somebody typically with just a high school diploma."

Jones believes that minimum wage is intended as a starter job and that there are good jobs in Michigan, but that companies are having a difficult time filling those positions. Jones emphasizes that people need to understand the risks behind a possible ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage.

It’s Michigan minimum wage redux. This week, conservative Republican state Senator Rick Jones introduced a bill to increase Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour. The measure would also increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour.

Yes, you read that correctly. A Republican lawmaker wants to increase the state’s minimum wage.

Melanie Kruvelis / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama spoke on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor today. His speech focused on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

Here's the text of his speech, and you can watch it here.

And you can listen below to hear how the speech wrapped up:

Click on the slideshow above to see some of the images captured during his speech.

Melanie Kruvelis / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama was in Ann Arbor today, pushing the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

That’s the bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2016. Senate Democrats are planning votes on a bill, but Republicans are working to block it.

Back here in Michigan, the minimum wage is $7.40 an hour – though groups are working to gather petition signatures to boost the state's minimum wage.

But can a state that is still recovering from a terrible recession weather a 36% hike in the minimum wage?

Paul Saginaw is co-founder of Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor. He has been pushing to increase the minimum wage and he is already committed to paying Zingerman's workers above the minimum wage.

We talk to Saginaw about the president's push for raising the minimum wage.

Listen to the full interview above.

Melanie Kruvelis / Michigan Radio

President Obama is in Ann Arbor on the campus of the University of Michigan today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

You can watch his speech below (or you can follow this link):

Pete Souza / White House

President Obama was in Ann Arbor today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage. Prior to the speech, Mr. Obama stopped at Zingerman's Delicatessen and ordered a Reuben sandwich. 

From the White House pool report:

POTUS and motorcade stopped at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor just before 1:30 p.m. With his suit coat off and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters by his side, the president ordered a Reuben sandwich.

Pete Souza / White House

A minimum wage increase is something President Obama has been calling for since he was a candidate.

Buzzfeed has a whole collection of "I'm going to raise the minimum wage" videos from campaign stops Obama made in 2008.

Here's one of them:

NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the impact of a fourth member of the state's congressional delegation who won't seek re-election, Medicaid expansion, President Obama's trip to Michigan to talk about the minimum wage, and Detroit's latest plan for bankruptcy.

Megha Satyanarayana / Michigan Radio

President Obama will fly to Michigan tomorrow aboard Air Force One. He's scheduled to deliver a speech on raising the national minimum wage at around 3 p.m. on the campus of the University of Michigan in the Intramural Sports Building.

The event is open to those with tickets and the media.

Students on the campus of the University of Michigan started lining up last night for tickets. They had to wait overnight with their sleeping bags as the Michigan Union just started distributing tickets at 9 a.m. this morning.

MLive's Ben Freed spoke with students in line last night who told him that seeing the president speak is a "pretty unique opportunity." Janie Brown, Freed writes, was one of the first in line:

“I came down here to get food at about four and then I decided to just set up out here so that I wouldn’t get shafted and not get a ticket,” [Brown said]... 

“The last thing I waited this long for was the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie. I showed up more than 15 hours early for that and I was in full costume,” she said.

“But that was in daylight, and for a Harry Potter movie. Hopefully this is a bit more impressive.”

The president's last visit to Michigan was on Feb. 7, 2014 when he signed the Farm Bill into law on the campus of Michigan State University. This will be Obama's third trip to U of M while president. The Ann Arbor News' Kellie Woodhouse points out that no other president has visited more while in office.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s poorest workers have seen their paychecks shrink as the economy has grown.

A new study claims Michigan workers in the lowest-earning 20% of the workforce are now earning about 55 cents an hour less than they did in 2009, when adjusted for inflation.

Doug Hall authored the study for the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning Washington D.C. think tank.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It's a question Michigan voters may have to answer this November.

The Board of State Canvassers yesterday approved petition language put forward by Raise Michigan, a coalition that wants to increase Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, and also index the minimum wage to inflation.

To get the question on the November ballot, it needs to collect 258,000 signatures by May 28.

Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants spoke with All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

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.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss money to help fix potholes, an effort to raise the minimum wage, the possible release of Detroit’s bankruptcy plan, and the upcoming trial challenging gay marriage in Michigan.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Group files petition today to bump minimum wage to $9.50

"The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage has settled on a target of $9.50 an hour. The group expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials," Rick Pluta reports.

Belle Isle becomes a state park

Detroit's Belle Isle park becomes Michigan's newest state park today.

"The state is taking over the city-owned park under a lease deal with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. [The move is] expected to save the bankrupt city between $4 million and $6 million a year," the Associated Press reports.

Saginaw school board continues to negotiate deficit elimination plan

"Saginaw school board members will try again tomorrow to hash out a deficit elimination plan. Last week school board members met three times to discuss a plan to trim the district’s multi-million dollar deficit. The plan included layoffs and school closings," Steve Carmody reports.

In 270 days – come Election Day 2014 – it’s not just candidates you’ll be voting for, there are likely to be plenty of ballot questions, too. And, much like 2012, when there were half a dozen ballot questions, we might just see a repeat of Ballot-o-palooza.

Ballot questions can sometimes get people who might not be super-invested in voting for a candidate to actually get out and vote for a particular issue. For example, 2004, when a slew of anti-gay marriage ballot proposals may very well have helped George W. Bush win reelection.

But it’s not easy to get ballot questions passed. Voters tend to shy away from passing new laws via ballot. In fact, if you don’t start out with more than a 60% approval of your question, the chances are you won’t win come Election Day.

In 2012, $154 million dollars were spent on ballot questions and yet all six were defeated.

Which raises the issue: Money spent on ballot questions is often money that would otherwise be spent on other campaigns. Thus, the decision to go to the ballot with a certain issue raises lots of questions: Is it the best use of money, personnel, volunteers? How will it affect turnout – that’s if it affects turnout at all.

What will this year’s dynamic be?

Well, look for news early next week on the minimum wage ballot drive that would initiate a law raising Michigan’s minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10 an hour.

President Obama is expected to talk about raising the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address tonight.  Across Michigan, there’s also increasing focus on raising the minimum wage for the first time since 2008.   The Raise Michigan campaign is working to get an initiative on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to somewhere between $9 and $10.10 per hour. But the Michigan Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes raising the minimum wage.  Joining us to explain why is Wendy Block, director of health policy in human resources at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.   We also spoke with Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard.

There’s a new group called the Economic Justice Coalition which is seriously considering trying to get a proposal on the ballot to raise the minimum wage in Michigan.

You might think that would make Democrats happy. Their gubernatorial candidate, Mark Schauer, came out in favor of a minimum wage hike two months ago.

But Democratic leaders aren’t thrilled with a ballot campaign, for reasons I’ll explain in a minute. Now, it’s not that they don’t want a higher minimum wage.Virtually all of them do. Schauer said if elected, he would try to raise Michigan’s from the present $7.40 an hour to $9.25 an hour over three years.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Fast-food workers in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing and other Michigan cities hit the picket lines today.

They are demanding a big increase in the minimum wage.

In Lansing, a small group of protesters chanted and waved signs outside a Pizza Hut.  

Tina Ervin has worked at the pizza joint for the past year. She says she’s having a hard time supporting herself and her three children on $7.40 an hour. Ervin is hopeful the national campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will succeed.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protesters called for higher wages and better working conditions for Walmart employees at stores around the country Friday, including one store in suburban Detroit.

Store managers and security met the protesters as they marched to the entrance to the Sterling Heights Walmart.

They were blocked from going in—but did hand over petitions protesting Walmart’s treatment of its workers. Police also arrived, but the protesters left peacefully.

This week, on our tryptophan recovery edition of It’s Just Politics, we’re talking money: salaries, wages, and how they’re becoming an issue in the campaign for governor.

Last week, gubernatorial-hopeful and former Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer, called for an increase in the state minimum wage. Schauer wants to increase the rate to $9.25 an hour over three years.

And, like we talked about last week - this is a subtle twist, not just hammering Governor Rick Snyder over his support for a pension tax, and school funding, but trying to give voters something to support, not just be against.

But giving voters things to be against is still an important part of any campaign narrative, and this week, for Democrats and Mark Schauer it was all about serendipity; a nexus of timing and opportunity.

Putative Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer rolled out his proposal this week to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 over three years; which, as of right now, would make it one of the highest state-mandated minimum wage in the nation.

That’s sparked a debate over the efficacy of the minimum wage – does it encourage prosperity by pushing more money into the economy? Or does it stifle hiring and job creation?

But we’re here to discuss the red meat politics of the minimum wage. Mark Schauer’s announcement sets the stage for a classic class warfare throw down. So, instead of diving too deep into the policy side, let’s take on the political calculation that’s part of choosing that number of $9.25.

Polling shows big support nationally for a minimum wage of $9 an hour. There is some Michigan public opinion research that’s not quite as reliable, but still suggests it’s about the same - about 70 percent favor it.

But that support plummets as the suggested minimum wage goes up, especially above $10 dollars an hour. This shows the risk in using the minimum wage as a political wedge. To a point, it has populist appeal, but people still fear the consequences of setting wage floors. So the key is to find the sweet spot, and Mark Schauer seems to have settled on $9.25. (He says the policy-side reason is that number will make up for the erosion of its buying power over the last four decades.)

Which brings us to the next question: why now? Why not keep beating the Democratic drums - pension tax, school cuts, with a little right-to-work thrown in just to fire up the base.

The answer: Because the base isn’t fired up. And the most recent polling shows Rick Snyder expanding his lead over Schauer. No matter how much Democrats may dislike what they’re seeing in Lansing, a lot of them are still not warming up to Mark Schauer, who is low-key, to say the least.

The minimum wage is supposed to be a jolt to try to put some electricity into his campaign.

user Penywise / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss Mark Schauer’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, the political drama over issue ads, and the state of Detroit Public Schools.

sushi ina / flickr

There is legislation pending at the national and state level that seeks to increase the minimum wage. In Michigan it's $7.40 per hour, just over the federal minimum wage of $7.25.  A person working full time and earning the minimum would pull down just over $15,300 per year before taxes. 

Now, there are three bills from Democrats in the state legislature seeking an increase of Michigan’s minimum wage to $9 or $10 per hour. Opponents of those bills say it would lead to layoffs, decreased hours, and a spike in prices. Proponents say now is the time to increase the minimum wage.

Today, we talked with Yannet Lathrop, policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy and author of the study “Raising the Minimum Wage: Good for Working Families, Good for Michigan’s Economy.” 

Listen to the full interview above.

How would you like to work 40 hours a week, every week of the year, for an annual income of $19,240 dollars? I didn’t think so.

The good news, if you could call it that, is that Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for governor next year, wants to raise the minimum wage to that level. Which would be, precisely $9.25 an hour. The bad news is that our current minimum is a lot worse at $7.40 an hour. 

Someone working for it full-time makes only a little over $15,000. And the worst news is there is little chance of the minimum being raised to the level the candidate wants.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

460,000 without power

A storm with winds up to 70 miles per hour and heavy rain knocked down trees and power lines across Michigan yesterday. 460,000 homes and businesses are without power. Consumers Energy says power should be restored by late Wednesday for most customers and by Thursday for those in isolated areas.

Six wolves killed in hunt

"Michigan’s controversial wolf hunt wrapped up  its first weekend with just six wolves killed in the first three days. Michigan wildlife officials have set a goal of 43 wolves in this year’s hunt," Steve Carmody reports.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate wants to raise minimum wage to $9.25

"Mark Schauer says he'll make raising the minimum wage a top priority as Michigan governor. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate is proposing to increase Michigan's minimum wage from $7.40 an hour to $9.25 per hour over three years," the Associated Press reports.

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