Michigan Court of Claims Rules Reversal of State’s 2018 Minimum Wage Law Unconstitutional

The State of Michigan Court of Claims issued a ruling that the Michigan legislature’s 2018 decision to reverse state law mandating a $12 minimum wage for all workers, including tipped workers earning the subminimum wage, was unconstitutional. 

VIEW THE ORDER HERE: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LHKvdlZbu1iiBp48oAQFXbCdkR5CBP5N/view?usp=sharing

In reaction to the Court’s announcement, Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit advocating on behalf of restaurant workers earning the subminimum wage for tipped workers, issued the following statement:

“The subminimum wage for tipped workers has existed since Emancipation in 1863, when restaurant owners sought to hire newly freed slaves and pay them nothing, making them live on tips alone. Workers have been fighting this subminimum wage, which has been a source of sexual harassment and racial inequity, for decades – including in 2018, when we collected 400,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. 

“Today, the courts in Michigan vindicated the rights of these millions of workers, and millions of voters, to demand that workers in Michigan be paid a full, livable wage with tips on top. So many states are about to follow – given the Great Resignation. And Michigan’s minimum wage will continue to go up, because we at One Fair Wage have collected enough signatures to force the wage up to $15 an hour in 2024. Today we made history!” 

Mark Brewer, election attorney, added: 

“This is a great victory for all Michigan workers and for all Michigan voters whose constitutional right to initiative has been protected by the court.”

In 2018, the Republican-controlled legislature passed as law two ballot measures approved to be on the November 2018 ballot – a minimum wage increase and required paid sick leave – specifically stating that they were doing so in order to take these measures off the ballot and thus prevent low-wage workers and workers of color from going to the polls in large numbers. After the November 2020 election, Republicans then gutted the law with a simple majority vote, returning the proposed $12 per hour minimum wage for tipped workers down to a little over $3 per hour.

The Court’s decision was in response to a lawsuit, filed by One Fair Wage and a coalition of Michigan organizations, which argued that the Republican legislature’s attempt to subvert the will of the people through manipulative legislative practices should be deemed unconstitutional per the state constitution and demands that the law requiring a minimum wage increase and One Fair Wage – a full minimum wage for tipped workers, as originally passed, be enforced. The law would guarantee hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers a raise, including hundreds of thousands of tipped Michigan workers currently earning a subminimum wage, the full minimum wage with tips on top, as well as earned paid sick leave.

“It is a moment of severe restaurant industry crisis, when over half of restaurant workers are saying they’re leaving the restaurant industry due to low wages and tips, and Michigan restaurant owners cannot re-open due to a lack of workers,” added Jayaraman. “Over three quarters of Michigan workers say the number one reason they’d consider coming back to work in the restaurant industry, allowing restaurants to reopen, is a raise.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/rick-snyder-michigan-minimum-wage-sick-leave_n_5c092023e4b0bf813ef4ac39

Free doula training to support to birthing people of color

Fall 2022 Training Series:
September 6 – November 29
Tuesdays 6-9 pm
Baxter Community Center
(hybrid option will be available.)

Learn more and apply here through July 22.

Day One Doula Collective is looking for people to join their team of community-based doulas. Comprehensive training and hands-on experience are provided at no cost. Their doulas provide holistic, culturally affirming support to birthing people of color throughout their full reproductive experience to address the racial inequalities in parental and infant health outcomes.

Day One Doula Collective has a dual-mission: recruit, train, and support people of color as community-based doulas and provide holistic, culturally affirming doula support to birthing people of color throughout their full reproductive experience to address the inequalities in parental and infant health outcomes. Improved birthing outcomes include increased birth weight, decrease preterm births, decreased rates of infant mortality, decreased rates of maternal/parental mortality, decreased c-sections, and increased breastfeeding initiatives

Doula eligibility requirements:

  • Live within Kent County
  • Identify as black and/or a person of color
  • Passion for supporting birthing people of color

Doulas earn up to $800 per client supported (for six visits and labor/delivery support). Doulas must provide support to at least five clients through Day One Doula Collective within 18 months of your training in order to be eligible for Community-based Doula Certification.

Learn more and apply at https://forms.gle/7xHhPBrpWbVELMLK6

Community-based doulas provide culturally sensitive pregnancy and childbirth education, early linkage to health care and other services; labor coaching, breastfeeding promotion, and counseling, and parenting education while encouraging parental attachment. Community-Based Doula Programs improve infant health, strengthen families, and establish supports to ensure ongoing family success:

  • Improved prenatal care
  • Increased breastfeeding rates
  • Fewer medical interventions
  • Fewer c-section deliveries
  • Increased parent-child interaction
  • More positive birth experiences
  • Improved parenting skills

Southeast Area Farmers Market begins July 9

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MLK Jr Park, 900 Fuller SE 49506. Click here for more information.

Grand Rapids Public Library will share its Mobile Library, giveaways, information about services, resources and programs, library cards sign-ups, stories and crafts.

Michigan League of Conservation Voters will share information on how to use your vote to promote environmental justice.

Molina Healthcare will share information and resources.

Michigan Egg Producer Pays Settlement to Farmworker Survivor of Sexual Assault

Workers who have questions about their rights can call MIRC’s free confidential Farmworker and Immigrant Worker hotline at 800-968-4046. 

Reported by MIRC

Michigan egg producer Konos, Inc. (Konos) has paid a major financial settlement to compensate “Jane Doe,” a client of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), ending a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the Western District of Michigan. MIRC’s client was allowed by the court to maintain anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the events at issue in the case. As a condition of settlement, Konos also entered into a consent decree with the EEOC for three years, requiring them to train their workforce and management on sexual harassment, post notices for all employees at their egg processing plants on the existence of the case and the right to a sexual harassment-free workplace, and self-report sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.   

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center represented the female farmworker who intervened to join the lawsuit and added two individual Defendants and state law claims under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. 

MIRC’s client suffered repeated sexual advances by her male supervisor which escalated to sexual assault. When MIRC’s client went to Konos management to complain, instead of taking any steps to protect her, they sent her home. The male supervisor was eventually criminally prosecuted and convicted of the charges. Konos employed their corporate attorney to represent the male supervisor in criminal court while continuing to represent Konos during the EEOC investigation and the civil litigation. During both the criminal and civil proceedings, Konos’ attorney attempted to use Jane Doe’s immigration status against her and as a defense against the company’s liability but was unsuccessful in deterring Jane Doe from seeking justice. 

“Sexual harassment and assault in agriculture is a pervasive and invisible problem with many immigrant survivors too scared to come forward and report due to concerns about immigration status being used against them,” said MIRC supervising attorney Diana Marin. “The weaponizing of immigration status by employers and defense counsel against our immigrant communities must end. It took incredible courage for our client to not only report the abuse, but also to see through a protracted legal battle against a multi-million dollar egg producer. We hope this case sends the message that sexual harassment and assault will not be tolerated and there are recourses for immigrant survivors who work in agriculture and experience harassment in the workplace.”  

For more information on sexual harassment, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment

For more information on retaliation, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/retaliation.

Survivors of sexual assault and abuse can call the State of Michigan’s free and confidential 24/7 hotline at 855-VOICES4 or by texting 866-238-1454.

Workers who have questions about their rights can call MIRC’s free confidential Farmworker and Immigrant Worker hotline at 800-968-4046. 

Free MSUE online classes on preserving fruits and veggies

Southeast Area Farmers Market opens in a couple week! If you learn how to can and freeze the fresh Michigan produce you buy there, you can feed your family good food all year ’round. Tonight’s class highlight African American Cuisine. On June 23, learn how to make jams and jellies. And on July 7, learn how to can. Click here for information and registration.

Did you miss Chef Jermond’s June 4 cooking class?

If you missed our June Educate to Elevate virtual Cook, Eat & Talk, here is Chef Jermond’s June recipe for Cast Iron Zucchini Rolls below. See you in July!

A native of Little Rock Arkansas, Chef Jermond has worked in more than a dozen restaurants in several positions. Next September, his pizza restaurant will open in the new Allied Media headquarters in Detroit’s Love Building. He also works as a grocery and retail consultant with his latest project, Seasons Market & Cafe, which recently opened in Midtown Detroit. He also serves as a classroom facilitator for the Detroit Food Academy, teaching middle and high school students basic culinary art skills. Lastly, Jermond is one of three the founders of Taste the Diaspora Detroit.