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UAW joins push for $15 minimum wage proposal for Michigan’s November election

UAW backs $15 minimum wage proposal
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Fight for $15 may be coming to the ballot in Michigan.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is backing a ballot proposal raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for everyone, including tipped workers and minors.

As of May 11, Michigan’s minimum wage is $9.87 an hour. Organizers behind the ballot drive said raising it will help protect workers, but people in the business community tell News 10 the job market is already raising pay on its own.

“The cost of everything is going up and that’s not really reflective with wages,” said Loki Williamson, Midtown Brewery bar manager.

He said raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour could be good for the community.

“Honestly, our bosses take really good care of us here so having the minimum increase like that wouldn’t really affect us,” said Williamson.

“We want these employers who have raised their wages to keep them there,” said Chantel Watkins, One Fair Wage lead organizer.

One Fair Wage is the group leading the effort to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027. This includes tipped workers, kids, and people with disabilities, who currently can be paid less than minimum wage.

Watkins is worried that people will get pay cuts when the job market slows down without the increase.

“Whenever they get ready, they can decrease them. That will affect workers and then we will have another great resignation in the workforce,” said Watkins.

The UAW joined the effort. In a statement, the union said adjusting the wage will help protect workers from being exploited.

But Wendy Block, Vice President of Business Advocacy at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the ballot drive isn’t needed.

“This is a fierce job market. The market is already responding in this regard. Most employers already paying well above Michigan’s current minimum wage and even above a 15 minimum wage because that’s what markets require,” said Block.

Block said raising the minimum wage could backfire, especially since inflation is so high right now.

“This could have the adverse effect of actually causing employers to have to shed workers so they can absorb the cost increases associated with this proposal,” said Block.

One Fair Wage has 250,000 signatures. It needs 340,000 by June 1 to get the proposal on the November ballot.

Washington, D.C. has the highest minimum wage at $15.20 an hour. States are working their way up to $15 an hour.

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