GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A looming increase in Michigan’s minimum wage could be delayed.
It’s supposed to happen on Feb. 20, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to slow things down, her office confirmed to News 8 on Wednesday.
The state’s minimum wage is supposed to jump from $9.87 to $10.10 in January and then in February jump again to $12 an hour. It would increase each subsequent year with inflation.
Back in 2018, advocates tried raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2022 by putting it on the ballot. But Republican lawmakers prevented that from happening by jumping in and changing the law so the increase wouldn’t happen until 2030.
Over the summer, a Michigan Court of Claims judge ruled that move unconstitutional.
The judge ordered businesses to raise the minimum wage to $12 but agreed that order won’t take effect until February because the case is under appeal.
On Wednesday, Whitmer told Crain’s Detroit Business that upping the minimum wage to $12 that quickly is “probably not sustainable for businesses.” Instead, the governor reportedly wants the Legislature to work with her on a plan to phase in the wage increase so it doesn’t happen “overnight” this February.
Roland Leggett, the Midwest campaigns manager for One Fair Wage, which led the minimum wage ballot initiative, told News 8 he hopes the governor misspoke.
“We’ve got at least 30,000 workers we’re mobilizing to vote based on the premise that she, rather than her opponent, will enforce the raise that MI courts agree they are owed from 4 years ago,” Leggett said in a statement.
Leggett said that nationwide “millions of workers are leaving the restaurant industry” because of low wages.
“Thousands of restaurants are raising wages to recruit staff,” Leggett said. “However these restaurants are saying they need a level playing field, and they need policy to signal to millions of workers it’s worth coming back to work in restaurants.”
“If the state min wage doesn’t go up, restaurants in Michigan will never have enough workers to fully reopen,” Leggett added. “Workers are owed this and business needs this in order to have enough staff to reopen.”
News 8 reached out to the governor’s office but did not hear back as of Wednesday night.