They also rolled back paid sick leave before a Democrat becomes governor in January.
Late this summer, it seemed almost inevitable that Michigan would be one of a handful of states this election cycle to pass ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage and require paid sick leave. Both proposals received more than the required number of signatures to get on the ballot. But in early September, the state Legislature preempted the ballot measures and adopted the proposals. What would have seemed like a win for organizers quickly brought concern. Advocates feared that the Republican-controlled state Legislature had only made the decision so it could gut those new laws in the lame-duck session following the election.
And they were right. With just weeks before their majority dwindles in the state’s House and Senate and Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is replaced by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, the GOP-stacked Legislature is rushing to rewrite the laws it previously adopted. Less than a week after a set of weakened versions of the minimum wage and paid sick leave laws passed the Senate, the House passed them late Tuesday evening as protests from the gallery echoed through the chamber. The bills now just await Snyder’s signature.
“We’re incredibly disappointed in the Legislature,” Danielle Atkinson, co-chair of MI Time to Care, the group behind the paid sick leave ballot initiative, tells Mother Jones. “The atrocity of the lame duck is that people who are not in office in January are making decisions that will make an impact for decades.”
The original paid sick leave proposal adopted by the state Legislature before the election would have given employees an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked from their start date, with leave capped at 72 hours a year. Under the new bill from the lame-duck session, workers are only guaranteed 36 hours of all forms of paid leave. The bill also went from covering all Michiganders to excluding 55 percent of the state’s workers, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy. “It’s really not an earned sick time bill,” says Atkinson. “It’s a poor imitation of one.”
The same can be said about the rewriting of a proposal to raise the minimum wage. In the original proposal, the minimum wage would have been raised to $12 an hour by 2020, then indexed to costs of living increases. It also included a tipped minimum wage, which has been struck from the new bill. Now, non-tipped workers will only be guaranteed a $12 per hour minimum wage by 2030. In 2018, the living wage required to meet basic needs, such as food and rent, in Michigan for a working parent is already over $23 an hour.