Category Archives: Raise the Wage

Progressive coalition brings together hopefuls 13th House seat in candidate forum

Candidates hear concerns of constituents on jobs, healthcare, immigration

Many of the leading candidates in the race to fill John Conyers Jr.’s seat in the US house heard from the people they seek to represent Saturday in a candidate forum held Detroit’s New Providence Baptist Church. Detroit City  Council president, Brenda Jones, mayor of Westland Bill Wild and state senator Coleman Young Jr. answered questions from constituents about the issues they deal with every day. State senator Ian Conyers and former state representative, Rashida Tlaib were also invited but couldn’t appear due to scheduling conflicts.

Paul Johnson III of the Disability Network of Wayne County wanted to know who supported a public program for elder care that would guarantee seniors access to quality, affordable long-term care. “I am lifelong Detroiter who  has learned the value of assisting others  from his Parents.” Johnson told the candidates.  “I have had to overcome learning disabilities always treating customer, friends and all others with compassion. “

A teacher in Detroit bravely told the story of how she had been impacted by sexual harassment. Gevonchai Hudnall said a man who had power over her made sexually suggestive comments at work, making her feel deeply uncomfortable, embarrassed, intimidated, and afraid for her job. She challenged the candidates to stand up for survivors of sexual assault on campus. “ I am glad we are now living in the #MeToo moment, and we are seeing an important shift in our culture.” Hudnall  said. “Sexual harassment and assault must no longer be tolerated. Campuses are one place where we must continue to fight and ensure that students are safe.”

Rokhyatou Toure (ROCK-key-ah-too too-RAY), a member of African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), came to protect what remains of her family after aggressive immigration enforcement that took her father, Katim last month despite having lived peacefully in Michigan for 29 years. “If elected, we expect one of you to be a champion for immigrant communities and refugees.” Toure told the candidates. “ It is time for a Compassionate Immigration Reform, that focuses, ONLY in legalization and the reunification of separated families, NOT one more dollar for deportations. Our loved ones are being stolen away from us and deported, simply for driving to work, or for showing up to their court appointments. Immigration authorities don’t even care if the spouse or children are American citizens.”

Since no Republicans have been nominated to run in the 13th district this year, whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 7th will be unopposed in the general election in November.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future

Candidates challenged with issues by the people they affect

Thousands of people from across Michigan packed the sanctuary of Detroit’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Saturday to hear from four of the candidates vying to lead the state in 2018. Democrats Bill Cobbs, Abdul El-Sayed, Gretchen Whitmer were joined by Republican Patrick Colbeck on stage to explain their positions on criminal justice reform, environmental justice, education, care, immigration and workers rights at the event co-sponsored by more than 70 community organizations.

The People’s Governor Forum: Transforming Michigan’s Future was moderated by Rev. Dee Dee Coleman, President of the Baptist Pastors Council of Detroit and Vicinity, and Detroit Free Press journalist Niraj Warikoo. But as important as the answers they gave were the people who posed the questions.

WENDY KYLES of Detroit asked “What will you do as Governor to reduce air pollution in overburdened communities, like mine, and throughout our state?” Kyles, who lives in the 48217 zip code, suffers from the worst air quality in the state due to the nearby Marathon oil refinery. Her mother died from emphysema even though never smoked a cigarette in her life.

Arthur Howard is a returning citizen who is working hard to be a productive member of the community. He pointed out that Michigan has seen a reduction in spending on post-release services in the past few years while states like California and Colorado are instead are investing in programs like prison diversion and community enrichment to help the formerly incarcerated get on the right path. “These programs pay for themselves because keeping someone out of prison saves a lot of money.” He wanted to know which candidates would consider a similar model in Michigan.

Jason Hackney is a teacher at one of Michigan’s 300 charter schools, 75% of which are “for-profit”. Michigan has also dropped to the bottom ten of states for education in the nation. An estimated $1 billion of Michigan tax money goes into these charters with no transparency, and for results that are no better than public schools. “A people’s governor should not treat Michigan students as commodities that can make the most profit for a management company and the authorizer.” Hackney said. He wanted to know How each of the candidates would address the problem of fully funding our schools, holding authorizers and management companies accountable, and where do you stand on the privatization of our education system?

Immigrant families at risk if Trump keeps promises

Don’t despair. Organize!

Join Michigan United and our partners as we work to resist deportations.

Michigan Sanctuary Movement 

Are you or your congregation interested in providing sanctuary for immigrants in danger of deportation? CLICK HERE  to become part of the statewide movement to protect immigrant families.

 Michigan United statewide strategy summit-December 10th

We have a lot of work to do, and we need to get organized. Please cjoin our statewide strategy summit, co-sponsored with the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center. CLICK HERE to be part of the discussion on how we can resist the deportations, support families, and develop strategies for how we can stand up for justice and dignity for all. 

Strategy Summit

Saturday, December 10
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Trinity Lutheran Church
1400 W. Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Capitol Day 2016

Join hundreds of Michigan United leaders and allies from across the state as we take over Lansing in the name of economic, environmental, and racial justice!

Click here to register for Capitol Day 2016 NOW!

We will meet with our legislators to push for grassroots solutions to injustices our communities face. Following the meetings, we will join with allies from across the state to amplify our voices against those causing pain in our communities by carrying out a DIRECT ACTION.

Michigan United will provide buses for transportation from Detroit and Kalamazoo. Detroit will depart from 6451 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn & Kalamazoo will depart from their office at 1009 E Stockbridge Ave, Kalamazoo. A logistics email will be sent to all registered attendees a week before the event with many details, including depart times and locations.

Please click here to register if you plan to attend. A space to enter attendees’ names will appear once you choose how many places you would like to reserve. Please include the names of everyone for whom you reserve a spot.

A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please indicate any dietary restrictions when registering.

Childcare will also be provided. Please indicate if you will require childcare, along with their names and ages. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide childcare for children under the age of 2 years.

This is a FREE event. However, we greatly appreciate donations to help offset the costs. Click here to donate now! A donation of $60 more makes you an official member in good standing!

For additional information about Capitol Day 2016, please contact our office, 877-507-7774, ext 725 or email branden@miunited.org.

DETROIT PARENTS DEMAND QUALITY, AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE FOR ALL

Fight  for $15 calls for urgent fix to child care crisis, citing new report on widespread economic benefits to national investment in quality care and workforce

As child care workers and other underpaid workers prepare for the biggest-ever protests across the country on April 14,  child care advocates and parents in the Fight for $15 reacted today to a new national study that found widespread benefits to a national investment in quality child care and higher pay for child care workers, calling on their elected leaders to invest in affordable, quality child care and a stronger workforce.

The new report by the Economic Policy Institute released this week found that a national investment that caps families’ child care expenditures at 10 percent of their income could help more women join and stay in the workforce, boosting national GDP by about $210 billion and putting $5.7 (B) billion into Michigan’s economy. Making child care affordable would also save the average Michigan family $3,888 a year. Child care providers are currently among the lowest paid workers in the country, with a median hourly wage 39.3% lower than the median hourly wage of workers in other occupations.

Audio actualities from the tele-press conference are available for download by clicking here

“It doesn’t matter how much you make, you still have to pay for quality care regardless of income. And it’s just that much harder when you can afford it.” said Tina Patterson, mother of a 3 year old girl in Detroit, Michigan. “I don’t want to compromise the quality of my child’s care, but that can be difficult given the cost of child care.”

The report also found that fixing our broken child care system would put more money into the pockets of working people and improve the quality of care. A wage of at least $15 an hour would directly raise wages for 60% of child care workers. Higher wages, the report found, would also create incentives for child care centers to invest in staff training, ultimately improving quality and strengthening the workforce. Last week, 6.5 million Californians and millions of workers in New York—where the Fight for $15 began just three and a half years ago—celebrated a historic $15/hr win, in which more than 10 million workers secured unprecedented raises from coast to coast.

“Right now, Michigan’s Child Development and Care program provides child care subsidies to low-income working families with incomes below 121% of poverty.” Said Meredith Loomis Quinlan, Michigan United Child Care Advocacy Coordinator.We are advocating for the threshold to be bumped up to 150% of the poverty line in 2017. That would mean an income of just over $30,000 for a family of three. To provide access for those families, the state would need to invest an additional $44 million into the budget for the Child Development and Care program.”

At presidential debates over the last few months from Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina, child care workers have been protesting and calling on candidates to back $15/hr and union rights to get their vote. Last year, child care workers and parents in the Fight for $15 met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the need for economic policies that strengthen the child care workforce and invest in affordable quality child care. Congressional leaders have introduced Senate and House resolutions calling for affordable, accessible care for all families and a living wage for all child care workers.

Push To Raise Minimum Wage Gains Momentum, New Goal $10.10

WWJ Newsradio 950AM,

DETROIT- There’s been a change in a proposal to raise the minimum wage.

They received so much support for a wage increase from $7.40 an hour to $9.50 an hour, they decided to try for even more.

Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee and the director of the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Michigan , spoke with WWJ’s Tom Jordon about the initiative.

“So I think there was a desire to push the wage level a little bit higher to give more folks a chance to get into the middle-class, even the lower middle-class,” said Houston.

The “Raise Michigan” campaign has announced a new number for minimum wage: $10.10 an hour.

The new proposal would be implemented over a several year period, reaching $10.10 by January of 2017 if it’s approved.

The Michigan Board of Canvassers will review the petition Wednesday.

Republicans have said hiking the minimum wage would hurt employers’ ability to hire people. The restaurant industry says it already operates on thin margins and argues sharply higher wages would lead to steeper prices.

“If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers, lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase,” said Wendy Block, director of health policy and human resources for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The group said businesses already are grappling with costs associated with the federal health care law and that government should focus  on helping people get jobs, not make it more expensive to hire them.

“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”

Michigan coalition seeks to raise minimum wage through ballot proposal

MLive article by Melissa Anders:

LANSING — A coalition of labor and civil rights groups have formed a committee that could push for a ballot proposal to raise Michigan’s minimum wage.

The organizations on Monday said they were going to submit paperwork to the Michigan Secretary of State to form a ballot proposal committee. They plan to make a formal decision on moving forward with a campaign for the Nov. 2014 ballot in the next few weeks.

Michigan last increased its minimum wage to $7.40 per hour in 2008. It is among 21 states with a minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25.

The coalition hasn’t announced specific numbers yet, but wants to raise both the regular minimum wage as well as the minimum for tipped employees, which has been $2.65 per hour for about 22 years.

“We know we have public support for this; it’s just common sense that if you’re working 40 hours a week you should be making enough to support your family,” said Danielle Atkinson, director of Mothering Justice, one of the coalition members.

The news comes one day before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, a forum which Obama has used in the past to push for a federal minimum wage increase, and he is expected to discuss income inequality on Tuesday.

Workers and activists held several protests throughout Michigan and nationwide last year to call for an increase in the state and federal minimum wages.

And lawmakers in at least 30 states are sponsoring or are expected to introduce wage hike measures, according to a national review by The Associated Press. They hope to notch state-level victories as Obama and congressional Democrats remain stymied in attempts to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.

In Michigan, Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, introduced legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $10 per hour by 2016. He introduced a similar bill last session that never made it out of committee. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer has proposed a minimum wage hike to $9.25 per hour.

Opponents, many of them Republicans, argue that the higher wages translate into fewer jobs and higher consumer costs. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the claim that working families need the boost to make ends meet makes him “cringe, because I know that statement is a lie,” noting that even with a higher minimum wage, families couldn’t make ends meet, according to the AP. He said he’s focused instead on creating better jobs and careers.

“Our politicians in both Lansing and Congress have failed us, so we have to start looking at other ways to move this issue forward and get people a raise,” said Frank Houston, chair of the Oakland County Democratic Party and consultant for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan. “It’s ridiculous that working people have had to wait on politicians to get this done when there is overwhelming support. It’s really unacceptable.”

Muskegon resident Shannon Bryson, 33, is a single mom with two kids and earns minimum wage working part time at a fast food restaurant.

“By the time I pay for gas to get to and from work, there’s not much left of my pay check,” she said in a statement. “Raising the minimum wage could do a lot for mothers like me. I see people evicted from their homes because they don’t earn enough to pay their rent, and during this cold, cold winter, I see children whose parents can’t afford to dress them warmly enough.”

The coalition includes the Center for Progressive Leadership, Michigan United, MOSES, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of (ROC) Michigan, Mothering Justice and Building Movement Project/People’s Platform.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email Melissa Anders at manders@mlive.com. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter: @MelissaDAnders. Download the MLive app for iPhone and Android

Ballot Effort Underway To Raise Michigan Minimum Wage

WWJ/AP-

LANSING  – Groups backing an increase in Michigan’s minimum wage laid the groundwork Monday for a statewide ballot drive in November, forming a committee that is very likely to commence with collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to qualify.

“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”

“It is impossible to raise a child on a job that pays minimum wage. I worked full time and still only brought home one third of the amount I needed to get a decent apartment. Not to mention childcare costs. Sometimes it feels like I am just working to pay someone else to raise my child,” said Cori Johnson, a 24 year-old mother of one in Detroit who is a member of Mothering Justice.

Gov. Rick Snyder and various state legislative leaders have indicated that they will not take up the bills this year. Last fall, Snyder stated that raising the minimum wage was not a “significant issue” for his administration, and that raising minimum wage could have negative consequences.

“Our politicians in Lansing and D.C. have failed workers. There are a lot of people who work hard who’ve been waiting for a raise,” said Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee.

Michigan’s $7.40-an-hour minimum wage last went up in 2008 and is slightly higher than the $7.25 federal hourly minimum. Republicans have not embraced calls by both President Barack Obama and Michigan Democrats to raise the minimum wage to $10 at the federal and state levels. Democrats are planning to make income inequality a top issue this election year.

“All indications are that we’re highly likely to move forward,” said Houston, who also is chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party. “We fully expect Michigan to be the No. 1 place in the country where we’re having a conversation around economic dignity and inequality.”

The coalition involved includes labor unions, community organizers, a restaurant worker center, and faith-based and civil rights groups. The groups sent out statements Monday from low-wage mothers who said their income is not enough to get by.

“If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo.

Shannon Bryson, 33, of Muskegon is a single mom with two kids, who works part time at a fast food chain and earns minimum wage. “By the time I pay for gas to get to and from work, there’s not much left of my pay check.  Raising the minimum wage could do a lot for mothers like me,” she said. “I see people evicted from their homes because they don’t earn enough to pay their rent, and during this cold, cold winter, I see children whose parents can’t afford to dress them warmly enough.”

A final decision to proceed is expected within days. The proposal would likely aim to change a state statute, not change the state constitution. The minimum wage would rise to the “ballpark” of between $9 and $10.10 an hour and be indexed to inflation, Houston said.

Republicans have said hiking the minimum wage would hurt employers’ ability to hire people. The restaurant industry says it already operates on thin margins and argues sharply higher wages would lead to steeper prices.

“If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers, lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase,” said Wendy Block, director of health policy and human resources for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The group said businesses already are grappling with costs associated with the federal health care law and that government should focus on helping people get jobs, not make it more expensive to hire them.

“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”

Said  Cori Johnson, a 24 year-old mother of one in Detroit, “It is impossible to raise a child on a job that pays minimum wage. I worked full time and still only brought home one third of the amount I needed to get a decent apartment. Not to mention childcare costs. Sometimes it feels like I am just working to pay someone else to raise my child.”

In November, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer proposed increasing the hourly minimum to $9.25 over three years. He said it would aid the consumer-driven economy by putting more money in employees’ pockets and give low-wage workers the same buying power as 1968, when the wage had its highest purchasing power.

A message seeking comment was left by the AP for Republican Gov. Snyder, who is up for re-election.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson, who has wanted to avoid ballot issues this year to stay focused on candidate campaigns, said in a statement that it was not surprising to see “a lot of energy surrounding this issue. Democrats at all levels are fighting to increase the minimum wage because we believe that people who work hard and play by the rules deserve a fair shot at supporting themselves and their families.”

Workers Rally in Lansing for Higher Minimum Wage

Detroit Free Press September. 18, 2013

LANSING — About 150 people from around the state rallied in downtown Lansing on Wednesday to urge Michigan lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Workers say they can’t earn a living wage on $7.40 an hour, Michigan’s mandatory minimum for hourly workers.

“Our hard-working families can’t make ends meet no matter how hard they try when they’re working for minimum wage,” Kalamazoo business owner Nick Boyd said to the exuberant crowd of demonstrators. “We have to have a fair wage in the state of Michigan.”

Working full time on Michigan’s minimum wage equates to an annual salary of $15,400 before taxes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines poverty as earning $15,510 a year less for two-person households and earning $23,550 a year for four-person households.

The “day of action” was sponsored by Michigan United, a coalition of labor unions and progressive groups that often organizes demonstrations at the Capitol. The demonstrators wanted Michigan lawmakers to sign a pledge supporting an increase in the minimum wage.

Democratic lawmakers introduced bills earlier this year — one in the Senate, two in the House — to incrementally raise Michigan’s minimum wage to either $9 or $10 an hour over the next couple years.

The bills have been referred to legislative committees but haven’t been taken up yet by the Republican-led legislature. And it’s unlikely — at least in the short term — that they ever will.

“It’s not a priority, given everything else that we’re focused on right now,” said Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

“We have a lot of things we want to accomplish that will focus on making it easier and less expensive to do business in Michigan, because we believe that will create more jobs,” Adler said. “If you force additional costs on employers, you will often see a decline in the number of jobs available or the number of hours available to those working already.”

Kristen M. Daum is a state government reporter for the Lansing State Journal. Contact her at kdaum@lsj.com