Society

Michigan's Minimum Wage Should Be Raised To $15

| by Shani Shahmoon

The "Fight for 15" movement has spread across the nation, calling for a $15 minimum wage, and now has Michigan rallying for change.

The Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2014 suggested Michigan's minimum wage increase to $9.25 an hour by January 2018. WOWA does not properly reflect the cost of living in Michigan and needs to be adjusted, as suggested by an amendment proposed by two of the state's Democratic senators, Coleman A. Young II and David Knezek.

While WOWA was created in 2014 to address the insufficient wages in the state, it was caught early that this plan would not be enough to truly address the problem. In June 2015, Democratic Sen. Bert Johnson proposed a different bill to increase Michigan's minimum wage in increments that would bring the wage to $15 an hour by January 2018. While that bill did not pass, it did spark a revolution in Michigan.

Despite the current legislation suggesting its support to help workers, its many loopholes show otherwise.

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According to Michigan's Chamber of Commerce, exceptions to the minimum wage exist. For example, so long as employees who receive all their tips or earn more than $30 a month in tips (quite literally can be just over a dollar a day), employers do not have to pay these employees more than $3.38 an hour. As if their tips for great service compensated for their expected amount of pay. One might as well promote poor customer service while supporting this clause.

Also, the source adds that employees in training who are under the age of 20 are only required to be paid $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment, while those aged 16 to 17 only have to be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage in the state of Michigan.

Forget encouraging students to prepare for heaping student debt, or helping support their low-income parents.

With hundreds of thousands of potential employees between the ages of 15 and 19 not receiving a fair minimum wage under this current bill, according to the Suburban Stats, it would be essential to address this gap by mandating the $15 minimum hourly wage.

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According to Economic Policy Institute, the fight for increased minimum wage is growing. So far, 27 states -- plus the country's capitol -- have increased their effective minimum wage since 2014, while over 30 localities mandated minimum wages surpassing their state's requirement. All the while, 29 states already have a minimum wage beyond the federal requirement.

WZZM reports that according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states started the year with minimum wages that were higher than the year before. 

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called the federal minimum wage a "starvation pay" and insisted to increase it to $15 an hour. With a loss of hope in the federal government after this recent election, Americans should look to Michigan and the many other states that have fought or are fighting to make this change on a state level.

Click here to read the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Bernie Sanders, Suburban Stats, Economic Policy Institute, Upper Michigan Source, Peninsula ReportsMichigan Legislature (2, 3), WZZM  / Photo credit: Detroit 15

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