Tag Archive | Living Wage

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

“We Just Unionized Amazon”: How Two Best Friends Beat the Retail Giant’s Union-Busting Campaign

Click on this Democracy Now! link to watch the video interview and read the transcript.

Hear how two best friends led a drive to organize workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island, New York, and made history Friday after a majority voted to form the first Amazon union in the U.S.

“I think we proved that it’s possible, no matter what industry you work in, what corporation you work for,” says Christian Smalls, interim president of the new union and former Amazon supervisor. “We just unionized Amazon. If we can do that, we can unionize anywhere.”

Reporter Josefa Velásquez covered the union drive for The City and discusses what the victory means for the broader labor movement.

Workers rally in celebration of the Raise the Wage Act

Workers in DC, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix & Detroit Hold Socially Distanced Rallies in Support of $15 Minimum Wage & Raise the Wage Act

Today, starting at 2:30pm, Detroit essential workers will hold a socially distanced rally in celebration of the Raise the Wage Act, legislation that would end the subminimum wage for tipped workers and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and that is included in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID package, at Senator Gary Peters’ Office. Speakers will include:

  • Davante Burnley, an executive chef for an upcoming restaurant in Detroit, who has 12 years of experience in the restaurant industry in every kitchen position. He’s an activist because he notices that fair wages make all the difference for quality of work and life.
  • Godwin Ihentuge, owner of beloved Detroit restaurant Yum Village
  • Lisa Ludwinski of Sister Pie, a bakery in Detroit

WHERE: Senator Gary Peters’ Detroit Office, 477 Michigan Avenue Suite 1837 Detroit, MI 48226
WHEN: Monday, February 22, 2:30pm EST
LOCAL CONTACT: Chantel Watkins, 313-623-9022, chantel@onefairwage.org

OKT Food Justice Series: Food Justice, Food Workers and a Living Wage

stop-supersizing-povertyThis is the fifth  in a series of weekly posts highlighting OKT’s Food Justice series. You can download series handouts here for free.

In May 2014, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill increasing Michigan’s minimum wage to $9.25 an hour by 2018.

Most likely, this decision was made to undercut the Democratic Party’s statewide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. While, raising the minimum wage is a step in the right direction, it ignores the larger issue of a living wage, especially as it relates to workers in the food industry.

A Living Wage is different than a minimum wage. It takes inflation into account inflation and addresses what an individual actually needs to earn in order to live in the current economy. Many organizers around the country are calling $15 an hour a Living Wage and have won campaigns to get such an hourly wage passed.

These $15 an hour campaigns are mostly being organized by workers in the food industry, restaurant workers, those in retail and the fast food industry. These food industry workers have been among the most exploited in the US in recent decades. They are challenging a system that has made billions in profits by paying low wages.

jrw-farmworker-1Almost all workers in the food industry earn an unjust wage—from migrant workers and those working in food processing plants to grocery store clerks and people in restaurants, institutional food cafeterias and fast food chains. In both the restaurant and agriculture industries, minimum wage laws do not apply. Migrant workers are at the mercy of whatever farm owners want to pay them; people working for tips in restaurants have a whole different minimum wage standard applied to them.

For instance, the minimum wage for tip workers in Michigan is $2.65 an hour. The 2014 minimum wage law would increase that to a meager $3.52 by 2018. Imagine working for those wages and relying on the generosity of the general public—especially when larger numbers of people in the US are experiencing poverty.

As an organization that promotes and practices food justice, Our Kitchen Table (OKT) supports the efforts of food workers who are organizing to demand a livable wage and better working conditions. Check these out:

OKT knows that more and more people want to eat local, nutritious food that is chemical- and GMO-free. However, it is equally important that we demand that growers, migrant workers, restaurant workers and fast food workers be paid a living wage, have safe working conditions and have the right to organize fellow workers.

taste-233x173When we enter a grocery store, shop at a farmers market, eat at a restaurant or look at food labels, we should ask:

  • How were the workers who provided us with this food treated?
  • What is the wage that these food workers make?
  • Is it a living wage?
  • Do these food workers have the right to organize?
  • Does this food we are about to purchase and eat promote food justice?

OKT recognizes that workers in the food industry need justice as well!