GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The group behind a proposal that would raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $15 is taking it to court, according to The Detroit News.
The Detroit News reported Friday that the Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on certifying the petition for the ballot. Those who voted against it took issue with a change in the petition’s definition of “employer.”
The initial version of the petition — and the summary shown to petition signers, which was written based on the initial version — defined an employer as someone who employs one person or more, The Detroit News reported.
But the language of the full petition that circulated was different. According to The Detroit News, it defined an employer as someone who employs 21 people or more — which would exempt around 90% of Michigan businesses from following the new law, if it were adopted.
Michigan Opportunity, the group arguing against certifying the petition, said the change was significant and rendered the summary misleading for signers, according to The Detroit News. Meanwhile, Raise the Wage Michigan argued that the canvassers’ job was simply to approve the petition since it gathered enough signatures.
The petition was recently certified for inclusion on the Nov. 5, 2024 ballot by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, according to One Fair Wage. But it was not approved by the Board of Canvassers, which requires three votes in favor: The Detroit News reported Friday that the two Republican canvassers voted against the petition, while the two Democratic canvassers voted to approve it.
In a statement provided to News 8, Michigan Opportunity spokesperson John Sellek expressed the group’s support for the canvassers’ decision, calling the proposal “a sloppy, haphazard scheme that disrespects our electoral system and the intelligence of voters.”
Saru Jayaraman — the president of One Fair Wage, the national group behind the petition — termed the Board of Canvassers’ decision a “ridiculously outrageous, partisan, unethical act,” The Detroit News reported. According to the report, Jayaraman said One Fair Wage plans to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
If passed, the initiative would gradually increase the Michigan minimum wage — which is currently $10.10 per hour — to $15 per hour, according to One Fair Wage. The minimum wage would increase by $1 a year. One Fair Wage said the goal would be to hit $15 by 2027. After 2027, One Fair Wage said the minimum wage would automatically adjust based on inflation, so future legislation wouldn’t be needed. The group said the initiative would also phase out the subminimum wage system for tipped workers, youth workers and workers with disabilities.