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Michigan Court Rules $12 Minimum Wage Proposal Should Go on November Ballot

The measure would eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2024

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Voters may get to decide whether to increase Michigan’s minimum wage and eliminate the tipped minimum wage in November. The Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled in favor of placing a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour on the November ballot, the Detroit Free Press reports. The three judges who heard the case ruled 2-1 against Michigan Opportunity, a group backed by the conservative-leaning Michigan Restaurant Association.

One Fair Wage, a campaign supported by progressive labor group the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), has campaigned extensively in Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia in support of increasing minimum wages and eliminating the tipped minimum wage. The group ran a petition this year to get a minimum wage increase on the November ballot in Michigan.

The state’s minimum wage is currently $9.25 per hour and the tipped minimum wage, which applies to restaurant servers and bartenders, sits at $3.52 per hour. The tipped minimum wage assumes that employees make enough tips to earn $5.73 per hour. If the proposal makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters this fall, it would gradually raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022 and slowly increase the tipped minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2024.

Supporters of the One Fair Wage campaign argue that the tipped minimum wage disportionately impacts people of color and women working in the restaurant industry and contributes to sexual harassment, discrimination, and poverty. The Michigan Restaurant Association has strongly opposed the proposal. The organization argues eliminating the tip credit would negatively impact businesses and result in layoffs and restaurant closures.

The One Fair Wage measure received more than the required number of valid signatures in July; however, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on approval of the ballot proposal and left it up to a challenge in the Michigan Court of Appeals. Michigan Opportunity sought to block the ballot measure in court by arguing that the language of the One Fair Wage petition was misleading.

In the ruling the court ordered the Michigan Secretary of State, the Board of State Canvassers, and the Director of Elections to “take all necessary measures to place the proposal on the November 2018 general election ballot.” From here, the Michigan legislature could take up the issue of a $12 minimum wage and keep the issue off the ballot, place an alternative measure on the November ballot, or do nothing and allow the measure to go on the ballot as it was proposed. In addition to the minimum wage ballot measure, voters will also decide on a proposal to require employers to provide paid sick leave — an issue that would also have a substantial impact on the restaurant industry in Michigan.

Are you a restaurant owner of employee in Detroit? Eater wants to hear your thoughts on the paid sick leave and minimum wage increase proposals. Drop a note at the tipline.

Voters Should Decide Hike in Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour, Court Rules [Freep]
Legislature Could Act on Minimum Wage, Sick Time Proposals After Labor Day [Crain’s]
All Wages Coverage [ED]

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