Needs of struggling workers and their families continue to be overlooked by legislators
LANSING—The Michigan Senate quickly followed through on its promise to pass dramatic changes to earned paid sick leave and minimum wage increase legislation. The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement, which can be attributed to President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.
“It didn’t take long for Lame Duck to get ugly, as Senate Republicans quickly moved to pass antithetical and wholesale changes to legislation that was originally intended to provide an increased minimum wage and earned sick leave for all workers. These issues were brought forth directly by the voters, and today’s action is a slap in the face of democracy and the hundreds of thousands of residents who signed the petitions.
“Workers’ rights and needs are too often overlooked by legislative leaders, especially those at the low end of the wage scale who are barely getting by, and instead of following the lead of what the people want and offering these much-needed supports, the Senate snatched away what little hope they had. Today, Senate Republicans again show how out of touch they are. The needs of our working men and women should mean something to the people elected to serve them, as should the will of the people who exercise their legal and democratic rights our state affords them. Low-paid workers are yet again getting left behind by the Senate action today while deep-pocketed business interests yet again get exactly what they want.”
The Senate’s changes to earned paid sick leave today make it available to only employees of establishments of 50 employees or more, locking out many of our state’s lowest paid workers from paid sick leave! In addition, they increased the number of hours worked needed to earn sick time and decreased the number of hours that could be accumulated, again gutting the original resident-driven petition.
As for the struggles of tipped workers, they often are not paid the legal minimum wage on slow days, and many employers do not make up the difference, making their wages and their lives perpetually uncertain. This is why we must eliminate the separate tipped wage and have one fair minimum wage for all employees—which is exactly what the proposal headed for the ballot would have done. The Senate today actually lowered the tipped wage as a percentage of the basic minimum wage. Furthermore, the Senate bill passed today only raises the basic minimum wage by $0.23 per year until 2030, when it reaches $12. This minimal and sluggish increase will fail to keep up with the ever-rising cost of inflation and the cost of living—exactly what a minimum wage is supposed to do.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.