minimum wage

Newsmaker Interview
5:28 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

One group strongly opposes raising the minimum wage

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.

Opinion
10:41 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Why Michigan's Democratic leaders aren't happy with a minimum-wage ballot campaign

Jack Lessenberry

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.

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Business
12:56 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Michigan fast-food workers demand $15 dollars an hour

A small group pickets in front of a Pizza Hut on Lansing's south side
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.

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Economy
9:02 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Protesters target Walmart in suburban Detroit

Protesters, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry (center), protest at the Sterling Heights Walmart Friday.
Credit 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.

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It's Just Politics
11:08 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Dems cry foul over pay raises for state's investment managers

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

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.

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It's Just Politics
6:32 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Dems try to leverage minimum wage for maximum political benefit

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

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.

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Politics & Government
12:07 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Lessenberry talks minimum wage, issue ads and Detroit Public Schools

Michigan's charitable tax credit allows taxpayers to essentially double their contributions to certain nonprofits
user Penywise morguefile

Week in Michigan politics interview

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.

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Newsmaker Interview
5:21 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

What the state could gain by raising the minimum wage

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.

Opinion
9:12 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Raising the minimum wage is the least we can do

Lessenberry commentary for 11/19/13

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.

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Politics & Government
7:55 am
Mon November 18, 2013

In this morning's headlines: 460,000 without power, six wolves killed, minimum wage increase

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
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.

Investigative
9:06 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Making $1.50 an hour to pick blueberries

Chuck Grimmet flickr

This week I’m bringing you segments from my documentary, “Voices from the Fields,” a story of migrant workers in Michigan. It will air Wednesday on Stateside.

To hear the audio story, click here

Michigan is the nation’s largest producer of blueberries. But getting blueberries to our bowls means long tedious work for the people who pick them. And in some cases, workers complain that the pay is far too low.

When I was reporting for this documentary, I visited the Hamilton Family.

When I met up with them they were living in a broken down trailer behind an old flea market garage and a vacant parking lot cluttered with tall weeds in southwest Michigan.

Seven people were living in the trailer. One of them was Randy Hamilton Sr., the father of the family. They are white and are a minority in the fields. Hamtilon Sr. has been doing migrant work since he was in 8th grade. That's when he dropped out of school in order to make money picking in the fields.  

“There’s no other jobs for us that you’ve got a high school diploma, and we don’t have it,” he says.

The Hamilton’s were out of work and out of money.

They quit their job picking blueberries in southwest Michigan. That’s because they couldn’t keep up with the picking demands in order to make minimum wage.

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Stateside
5:18 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Should fast food workers make more than minimum wage? Moo Cluck Moo says yes

The employee that made this buffalo chicken burger earns $12 an hour.
Twitter

The push by fast food workers to make more than minimum wage has swept across the nation. It's raised the question: can fast-food restaurants pay their workers more than the $7.40 an hour minimum wage? If they do, will they last? Is it sustainable?

At the fast food restaurant Moo Cluck Moo, the answer is yes.

Moo Cluck Moo serves up burgers, chicken, shakes in Dearborn Heights in Wayne County.  And starting wages at Moo Cluck Moo are $12.00 an hour.

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Politics & Culture
5:09 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

It's called many things -- the

ACA, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. As implementation of the law continues, so does the confusion. On today's show, we sat down and tried to make sense of it all. What will the law mean for Michigan and for you?

And, we spoke with the Detroit Bureau correspondent for the new TV network Al Jazeera America.

And, author Jim Tobin and illustrator Dave Coverly joined us to talk about their new children’s book.

And, public transportation can be confusing, especially for children. The Youth Transit Alliance in Detroit is looking to improve this. 

Also, Moo Cluck Moo, a fast food restaurant in Dearborn Heights, has stepped up and raised their starting wage to $12 an hour. The founder spoke with us about why he thinks fast food workers deserve to be paid more than minimum wage.

First on the show, President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

Economy
5:11 pm
Sun September 1, 2013

Calls to raise minimum wage return with Labor Day

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A call to raise the minimum wage has returned in the run-up to Labor Day.

It's come in the form of worker rallies and a report finding Michigan ranks second-to-worst among states for wage growth during the past 30 years.

Fast-food workers in Detroit, Flint, Lansing and elsewhere protested Thursday demanding higher wages. They seek $15 an hour - more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

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Economy
12:00 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Report shows increase in people earning poverty wages in Michigan

Fast food workers in Detroit strike for higher wages.
Credit www.detroit15.org

The Michigan League for Public Policy released its Labor Day report today. The report shows Michigan  increased the number of workers earning a poverty wage.

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Politics & Government
7:38 am
Mon July 29, 2013

In this morning's news: School safety drills, unconstitutional tracking tech, minimum wage protests

Morning News Roundup for Monday, July 29, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Safety drills in schools are being ignored

Under a proposal in Lansing, schools would be forced to report when and how emergency safety drills are conducted. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, state police officials say too many schools are ignoring laws meant to ensure school safety. The reports would have to be posted on schools’ web sites whenever they conduct a safety drill.

Tracking by cell phone GPS could become a felony

Another piece of legislation in Lansing would make it a felony for police officers to track someone by GPS in their cell phone without a warrant. The US Supreme Court ruled last year that the practice is unconstitutional. Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin says the legislation is necessary to make sure law enforcement agencies are held accountable for such actions.

Fast food workers protesting in Detroit and Flint

Workers at some fast food chains in Detroit and Flint are expected to walk off the job as part of a protest for higher wages today. They want to be paid fifteen dollars an hour. Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40. The strike is expected to affect some McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants.

Business
12:45 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Fast food workers expected to strike in Flint & Detroit today

ebruli http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbling/

It may be difficult to get a fast food hamburger in parts of Detroit and Flint later today.

Workers at some fast food chains in six cities, including the two in Michigan, are expected to walk off the job as part of a protest for higher wages.

They want to be paid $15 an hour. Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40.

Claudette Wilson is a member of Detroit–15,  a group that advocates for a higher wage for fast food workers. Wilson defended raising fast food worker wages at a news conference in Lansing last week. 

“I believe that changing the wage from $7.40 to $15 will provide a better living circumstance for workers that are living in poverty,” says Wilson.

The strike is expected to affect some McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants.

Business
4:08 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

There's a new push for a higher minimum wage in Michigan

What should Michigan's minimum wage be?
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several groups are calling for an increase in the Michigan minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

The current rate in Michigan is $7.40 an hour. That's higher than the national minimum wage.  Michigan is among more than a dozen states with minimum wage rates higher than the federal benchmark. 

Danielle Atkinson is with ‘Mothering Justice’, one of the groups calling on state lawmakers to increase Michigan’s minimum wage.

“We believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair pay. And it’s time for the Michigan legislature to support that as well,” says Atkinson. 

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Economy
1:22 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

An average family in Ann Arbor needs $68,140 to get by

What is takes for families to get by in cities around the country.
EPI

That's the estimate for a family made up of two parents and two kids.

The numbers are calculated by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank based in Washington D.C.

You can look up your specific living situation with their updated "Family Budget Calculator."

EPI says the calculator estimates the annual income a family needs for a "secure yet modest living standard."

It estimates expenses related to housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. And by their calculations, families at the poverty level set by the federal government are nowhere near the EPI's "getting by" threshold.

The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children)...EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.

Of the 20 areas the EPI examined in Michigan, the Ann Arbor area came out on top as the most expensive place to live.  Rural Michigan was the least expensive.

Here's a look at the Michigan areas EPI put into their calculator, from most expensive to least expensive (for two-parent, two-child families):

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Economy
3:23 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Is rent affordable for Michigan's minimum wage workers? Group says 'no'

The darker the yellow, the less affordable rent is. Michigan was ranked 30 out of 52 (incl. Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico).
National Low Income Housing Coalition

The National Low Income Housing Coalition asked the question, "where in America can a low-wage worker afford a two bedroom apartment?"

Their answer:

"Nowhere"

That's "nowhere" assuming the renter is spending no more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.

Ask any financial advisor and they'll tell you that's the general rule of thumb. It's called the 'housing cost burden.'

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