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Michigan Appeals Court Ruling Could Stall Minimum-Wage Increase Next Month

Restaurant workers’ tipped wages could also be impacted

A jar of tips with a piece of tape with thank you written on it sitting on a pink countertop. Getty Images
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

The Michigan Court of Appeals on Thursday, January 26, voted to overturn a 2022 lower court judge ruling, halting a statewide minimum wage and sick leave increase that was scheduled to take effect next month.

According to WXYZ, back in 2018 the citizen-led One Fair Wage ballot initiative asked voters to decide whether to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $13.03 an hour and for tipped workers to get $11.73 an hour starting this year. A second petition focused on sick leave. The state’s Republican-led legislature adopted both bills and later amended them to instead increase the minimum wage to $12.05 by 2030. Thursday’s appeals court voted unanimously 3-0 to rule that the state legislature acted constitutionally in making those amendments under the “adopt and amend rule” that allows the legislature to adopt and later amend petitions before they hit voters’ ballots.

According to Crain’s Detroit, the minimum wage will remain at $10.10 and not go up to $13.03 next month, while tipped workers will continue to receive an hourly wage of $3.84. The case will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Advocates for a higher minimum wage include the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which over the years has argued that the tipped minimum wage disproportionately impacts people of color and women working in the restaurant industry. But industry groups like the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association have adamantly warned of how a minimum wage increase could negatively impact small business owners.

Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, issued the following statement on Thursday in response to the appeals court vote.

We are relieved and appreciative of the unanimous ‘Adopt and Amend’ decision out of the Court of Appeals today that will allow Michigan and its 18,000 restaurants and hotels to move forward with greater certainty as to their operating future. Through this ruling, countless restaurants and 50,000 hospitality jobs have been at least temporarily saved. We are optimistic that the Michigan Supreme Court will recognize the same and allow this industry to redirect its focus to the daunting task of recovering from a pandemic that decimated it so completely.