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.”