May 29, 2014: Other than endorsing mom or apple pie, rarely does a proposed law pass both legislative houses and get signed by the governor in less than one hour. But that happened two days ago in Michigan: the law raised the minimum wage in four steps to $9.25 by January 1, 2018.
But that isn’t the news here. The news is, the governor and the bill’s sponsors are totally against raising the minimum wage! One legislator who voted for it told the press he is opposed to any minimum wage at all, because we need our wages competitive with China’s.
How did it happen?
The very day this passed, an organization called Raise Michigan was about to submit 300,000 signatures to put a raise to $10.10 on the November ballot. Polls show it passing handily, despite the opposition of the governor, corporations, and big money.
So the Republican legislative leaders and governor came up with a trick: they repealed the minimum wage law which the ballot initiative would amend, thus aiming to block the people’s right to vote on the initiative. Then they quickly passed their watered down version in this election year.
The lesson: these minimum wage initiatives are so powerful, even corporate-bought politicians may have to get half-way on board, when faced with a grassroots campaign. We need more such campaigns, all across the country, backed by unions and community groups. And we need to aim higher than $10.10.