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Levin calls for putting $15 minimum wage on Michigan ballot

royal oak – U.S. Representative Andy Levin joined petitioners on Saturday calling for a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Michigan.

According to the proposal, by the Raise the Wage Michigan Ballot Committee, Michigan would raise the minimum wage by $9.87 an hour in $1 increments over five years, starting at $11 in January 2023 and increasing to $15 from 2027.

The initiative would require automatic adjustments for inflation every year after 2027.

It would also end “subminimum pay” for tipped workers, people under 20, or people with disabilities. The sub-minimum wage would be phased out until it reaches parity with the standard minimum wage on Jan. 1, 2028, Levin said.

Levin joined One Fair Wage petitioners outside the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Saturday, saying the fight for $15 an hour had long been advocated by the Service Employees International Union.

“Two-thirds of people earning minimum wage are women and they are disproportionately colored. If we could raise it to $15 an hour, including tipped workers, I think that would be important right now. of COVID and with this inflation, people need to make more money,” Levin told the Detroit News.

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Levin said it was unfair for workers to say that raising the minimum wage would lead to higher inflation.

U.S. Representative Andy Levin joined One Fair Wage petitioners Saturday, March 26, 2022, at Royal Oak's Farmers Market, calling for a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Michigan.

“If you follow the logic of that, then the workers are going to have the end of the stick,” he said, adding that it is not clear that current fast food workers who earn between 14 and 16 dollars an hour are sustainable. “We need to put a better floor under them, which is why it’s important to do it now. I don’t think wages are going to come down anytime soon.”

In 2020, 73.3 million workers ages 16 and older in the United States were paid hourly, representing 55.5% of all wage and salary earners, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics . Of those paid by the hour, 247,000 workers earned exactly the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, according to the BLS.

Three-fifths of all workers paid at or below the federal minimum wage were employed in the hospitality industry, almost entirely in restaurants, bars and other food service industries. Bus drivers, health care aides and school assistants are also among the most common minimum wage workers.

The group said it was confident it could collect the 340,047 valid signatures needed to contest the November ballot.

“As a four-year server, I think this could be a boost across the country and something worth fighting for,” said University of California, Berkeley student Marisol Franco. who petitioned the Farmers Market with One Just Wage. “We are here to raise awareness because many people do not know that a good part of the population still earns a small minimum wage.”

In 2018, organizers gathered enough signatures to put a similar minimum wage increase on the ballot. However, Levin said the Republican-led Legislature instead passed the proposal before it went to a ballot and amended it “for slower implementation.”

Changes made by the Legislature increased the minimum wage from $9.25 to $12.05 per hour by 2030, slowing the initial proposed increase to $12 by 2022 The minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers will increase to $4.58 by 2030 from $12 by 2024.

The petition proposal is viewed with skepticism by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which said state law and private sector employees already address the issue of wages.

“Michigan’s minimum wage increased just three months ago and will continue to do so responsibly for the next several years due to bipartisan legislation,” said Michigan House spokeswoman Sara Wurfel. , in a press release.

“The talent shortage is forcing employers to already pay higher wages, while facing rising inflation and supply chain chaos, just to keep the doors open. Instead, we need to focus on ways to “Helping job providers fully recover from the impacts of COVID and workers overcome barriers to employment, such as ensuring affordable childcare, housing and transportation. Our members will carefully consider any proposal that will qualify for the ballot.

The minimum wage petition would join what could be a crowded field of initiative.

Other initiative petitions include bans on public health orders, tightened voter ID rules, reformed term limits, caps on short-term loan interest, scholarship programs tax incentives, sentencing law changes and a forensic audit of the 2020 election.

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