Michigan voters gear up to fight back if GOP governor guts sick leave


Michigan Republicans are using the lame-duck session to undermine the will of the voters, but people are fighting back.

Michigan's lame-duck session is moving almost too fast to keep track of, as the GOP races to strip citizens of paid sick leave and undercut the authority of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general.

Now, two bills — one that functionally dismantles paid sick leave and another that delays the minimum wage hike for nearly a decade — are headed to the governor's office for a signature.

The changes to the minimum wage law are drastic. Where the existing law would have raised the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2022, the revised bill drags that raise out until 2030. And tipped workers will only see a farcical 48 cents per hour wage hike in that same time, a rise that can't possibly keep up with inflation.

The changes to the paid sick time law are equally bad. The new bill exempts all companies that employ 50 or fewer workers, which is actually the bulk of the companies in the state. Workers would also need to wait a full year before sick time starts accruing.

Those bills are now headed to the desk of lame-duck GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, and there's no reason to think that the anti-worker governor won't sign them.

But the people are gearing up to fight back. Groups such as Mothering Justice that supported the paid sick leave ballot initiative are phone banking to get people to call Snyder and ask him to veto the bills. That may ultimately prove unsuccessful at this stage, but may also galvanize Michigan citizens for the battle ahead.

One of the organizations that backed the original ballot initiative supporting paid sick leave, the Michigan Time to Care coalition, has already filed new petition language. That's the first step in getting paid sick time back on the ballot in 2020. In a press release, the coalition said they are also ready to take the matter to court, arguing that there is a 1964 Michigan Attorney General's opinion that says the GOP can't do what it is trying to do now.

And if not, Michigan Time to Care and other groups will go back to the voters and begin collecting petitions again. The citizens of Michigan are going to have to continue to mobilize against a GOP legislature that has no interest in protecting and uplifting the workers of the state.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.