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Campaign for minimum wage ballot proposal turns in 610,000 signatures for 2024 ballot

Brenda Lindsay, 58, is gathering signatures for a couple of statewide petitions on issues that include voting rights and raising the minimum wage. She helps run a local Indivsible chapter in Livingston County, Mich.
Asma Khalid
/
NPR
Brenda Lindsay, 58, is gathering signatures for a couple of statewide petitions on issues that include voting rights and raising the minimum wage. She helps run a local Indivsible chapter in Livingston County, Mich.

Leaders of a campaign to boost Michigan's minimum wage say they've turned in around 610,000 petition signatures in hopes of getting the proposal on the November 2024 ballot.

If passed, the initiative from the group One Fair Wage would require Michigan employers to pay both tipped and non-tipped employees at least $15 an hour, starting in 2027.

Campaign co-chair Maricela Gutierrez said it’s important to include tipped workers in that group.

“A lot of workers are not actually making the minimum wage. It depends a lot on the math and a lot of people don’t do the math. And since it’s like, ‘Did I make enough? I made enough on Saturday, but I didn’t make enough on Monday or Tuesday.’ You know? So, it’s really not fair for folks to be living on these wages,” Gutierrez said.

The campaign could have turned in signatures earlier this year to join the 2022 ballot, but it held off to gather what organizers said is a record number of signatures for initiative petitions.

The ballot question spells out incremental wage increases that were supposed to start in 2023.

Campaign co-chair Dave Woodward said if the proposal passes, those increases would skip ahead to the next relevant year. He said he’s not concerned about potential lawsuits over the language.

“What I have learned over the last many years is that there’s always going to be a force of people working to keep workers down and deny workers fair wages," he said. "What I do know, more than 600,000 people have signed onto this petition to raise the minimum wage. The public’s on our side."

The signature drop-off comes on heels of a court ruling that restores the incremental minimum wage increases in a 2018 law.

That law originated from a petition campaign. The Republican-led legislature used a process known as “adopt-and-amend” to take up the ballot proposal and then slow the wage increases. The court ruling found the process was unconstitutional.

One Fair Wage worked on that petition drive as well.

“We had been trying in 2018 to get on the ballot then the whole thing happened with the adopt-and-amend so it really works out perfectly. People are going to see a raise starting next year and then they’ll be able to build momentum in 2024 to vote themselves another raise, which is really needed,” Gutierrez said.

Next, the Bureau of Elections will check the petition’s signatures for validity and recommend whether it should go before voters.

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