The dust has cleared on a brouhaha surrounding a proposed minimum wage hike in Michigan.
The good guys (mostly) won – thanks to grassroots organizing, massive public pressure and some skilled negotiating behind closed doors. It was an incomplete victory, but it was a victory all the same – most low-wage workers in Michigan are getting a 25 percent pay increase over the next four years to $9.25.
The story starts at Raise Michigan, a grassroots organization that put together a petition drive in February to put a proposal before the legislature to amend the minimum wage to raise the wage. If the legislature didn’t pass it, it would go before voters in November. It’s a similar gambit that anti-choice organizations used to circumvent Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of legislation that excluded abortion coverage from Michigan’s health insurance exchange last summer.
The idea was to raise the wage for most workers from $7.40 to $10.10 an hour over three years from, 2015 to 2017, and then index future increases to inflation. As importantly, the petition would also raise the minimum of tipped workers from the current unconscionable $2.65 an hour by 85 cents a year until it reached parity with the rest of the work force.
Of course, the usual suspects in business and the restaurant industry cried bloody murder about how giving low wage workers a raise to non-poverty income levels would wreck the economy. But the legislature’s Republican majority was in a pickle – if they defeated the measure in the ledge, then it would go on the ballot – where minimum wage increases tend to fare quite well.
In response, Senate majority leader Randy Richardville (the dude who drove me to blog in the first place) reasoned that if the minimum wage law was repealed, then technically an initiative amending the law would be out of order.
Follow me below the fold for how that particular evil gambit actually turned into a productive set of negotiations and a legislative victory.