On July 26, 2022, the One Fair Wage campaign announced that it submitted more than 610,000 signatures to qualify a $15 minimum wage initiative for the Michigan ballot in 2024.
The proposal is an indirect initiative, meaning, if enough signatures are verified, it goes to the state legislature first for consideration before being placed on the ballot. If the legislature approves the measure, it is enacted into law, but if the legislature does not approve of the measure, it goes to the ballot for voters to decide.
If approved by the legislature or voters, the initiative would increase the state minimum wage incrementally by a dollar every year, over the course of five years, until it reaches $15. The state’s current minimum wage is $9.87 per hour. The initiative would also phase out the lower-than-minimum wage for tipped, disabled, and underage workers, and would increase regardless of the unemployment rate.
“This is going to help hundreds of thousands of Michiganders get a raise that’s much needed,” said One Fair Wage co-organizing director Maricela Gutierrez.
The signature submission follows a recent ruling by a Michigan judge regarding two 2018 citizen-initiated laws, including one that would raise the minimum wage to $12 incrementally by 2022. Rather than having the measures go to the ballot, the state legislature voted to approve them, but later amended the minimum wage measure to increase the wage to $12 by 2030, changing the timeline for the wage increase. The amended version was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Michigan One Fair Wage and Michigan Time to Care — the campaigns behind the two initiatives — sued the state of Michigan. The Michigan Court of Claims struck down these two amended initiatives, ruling that the adopt-and-amend tactic is unconstitutional.
“We’re going to get it back on the ballot,” said State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D), “We saw the court decision. That is a huge move in the right direction but as we saw in the recent Dobbs decision on the federal level, court rulings are also not settled. So that requires all of us getting into it.”
Brian Calley, chief executive officer of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said, “This type of government action is a big part of the reason we are now facing such devastating inflation, which hurts lower-income families the most. We should not make a bad problem worse with this proposal.”
There is currently one minimum wage ballot measure certified for the ballot in 2022. It would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024 in Nevada.
In Michigan, between 1985 and 2020, 26 citizen-initiated measures have appeared on the ballot. Eight of them (31%) were approved, while 18 of them (69%) were defeated.