Republicans in the Michigan state legislature are in power—at least until year’s end—and they’re trying to fleece the hell out of workers.
On Wednesday, the state Senate approved legislation to push back a minimum wage hike and strictly limit paid sick days for Michiganders. After making it out of committee in the morning, Senate Bill 1171 passed the Senate by a vote of 26-12. It will now head to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk to almost certainly be signed into law.
The state’s minimum wage was supposed to hit $12 by 2022 and then increase based on inflation; under the new bill, the minimum wage, currently $9.25, will remain in place as the increase is pushed back to 2030, according to MLive.com. The bill was also altered to remove the inflation-based increases, meaning the minimum wage would tap out at $12. Additionally, the law keeps the hourly wages of tipped workers at $3.52 and absolves bosses of their legal responsibility to make up the difference when their employees’ wages do not meet the $9.25 minimum wage.
And that was just the first bill.
A second bill, Senate Bill 1175, passed Wednesday by the same margin as S.B. 1171. The measure attacks the mandatory paid sick leave already approved by the Michigan citizenry. Under the law as it was initially drafted, Michigan workers at larger companies could have amassed up to 72 paid sick hours (nine sick days) per year, or one hour for every 30 hours of work; employees at smaller company would have been capped at 40 hours per year, or less than five days. The legislation as it reads now, however, will do away with this and instead cap all employees, regardless of company size, at three days of paid sick leave.
This latest batch of legislation on minimum wage and paid sick leave was a similarly slimy political maneuver on the behalf of the Republicans. After groups collected over 300,000 signatures apiece for initiatives on paid sick leave and minimum wage reform, the GOP decided in September that instead of allowing the minimum wage to be on the ballot as a proposition or amendment and voted on by all Michigan citizens, they would adopt the issue and corrupt it for themselves.
Allow MLive to take you through the fine folks supporting these bills (emphasis mine):
The bill sponsor, Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, said he had been hearing from tipped employees who said this would damage their income potential.
“Michigan has a long history of being a tipping culture, which was eliminated in this initiated law,” Hildenbrand said.
Repealing the tip credit as the ballot proposal would do “fundamentally goes against what tipped employees want,” said Robert O’Meara of the Michigan Restaurant Association.
The changes were supported by Charlie Owens of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, who testified in support of the bill.
“These changes represent the collective input of employers large and small,” said Owens, who said business groups were not consulted with the initial initiative.
Conservatives in the state legislature are trying to rush these bills through now, before the turn of the year, because they’re about to lose the power of the executive branch. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, was elected governor over Attorney General Rick Schuette, breaking the trifecta the Republican Party’s held in the state since 2011. This means any particularly heinous legislation the GOP wants to inflict upon the state’s working class has to be done by the time Whitmer is sworn into office in January, lest they run the risk of a veto.
Still, the Michigan state House and state Senate will both still be controlled by Republican majorities. Per the Detroit Free Press, the counts are 58-52 in the House and 22-16 in the Senate, neither of which are near close enough to the required supermajority numbers needed to override a governor’s veto. The GOP has managed to cling onto this power in the state legislature thanks to a set of district maps they drew up in 2010 that gerrymandered the hell out of the Democratic base. So despite Democratic state House candidates garnering 175,000 more votes in the 2018 midterms and state Senate candidates carving out a 117,300-vote advantage, both chambers still belong to the GOP.
Recognizing that they were being consistently fucked over by a conservative state legislature content with stuffing its donor’s pockets, Michigan voters earlier this month passed a ballot initiative to create an independent redistricting citizens’ commission to redraw the maps. Until then, however, working people in Michigan will have to pray this last-minute charge by the conservative ghouls to fuck them over can somehow be staved off, at least until 2019.
Correction: The post initially stated that 72 hours of paid sick leave would result in three days off of work. That total would actually be nine work days.