Michigan GOP just started rolling back sick leave and minimum wage


It only took one day of the lame-duck session for Michigan Republicans to start gutting the state's paid sick leave and minimum wage laws.

The Michigan legislature began its lame-duck session on Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, the GOP-controlled state Senate had completely decimated the state's paid sick leave and mandatory minimum wage laws.

It should come as no surprise, since the GOP was telling everyone this was exactly what they were going to do.

Back in September, they took the choice away from voters who organized for a minimum wage and sick leave by passing their own bills instead of letting the issues be decided by ballot. After they did so, they immediately announced they would hobble the bills during the lame-duck session — or entirely overturn them.

The minimum wage law took a huge hit, and the existing law wasn't all that great to begin with. The law passed in September was set to go into effect in March 2019. At that time, it would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to the level of the regular minimum wage. It would then have raised the minimum wage to a very modest $12 per hour by 2022.

The bill that just cleared the Senate Government Operations Committee takes until 2030 to raise the minimum wage to $12, and it keeps tipped workers at the lower minimum wage. Taking 11 years to raise the minimum wage from $9.25 to $12 is a disgrace and a slap in the face to the 373,000 Michigan residents that asked for the initiative to be on the ballot.

The sick leave law didn't fare any better. The existing law would have required employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work, or 72 hours per year. Businesses with fewer than 10 employees would only have needed to make 40 of those 72 hours paid leave.

Under the new proposal, employees would only earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked and employers could cap paid sick leave at 36 hours per year. Additionally, the bill drastically circumscribes who is covered. The existing law covered every employee, albeit with some changes for very small businesses. The proposed law exempts all businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

There's still a bit of hope for Michigan citizens who wanted these protections: The bills have to clear Michigan's House and they have to be signed by current governor Rick Snyder. Michiganders can still try to get their government to recognize their wishes, even as Republicans seem to be determined to ignore them.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.