Wage, Leave-Time Petition Drives Moving Ahead

Both petition drives have been tried before and failed to get on the ballot.

Jake Neher/WDET

Voters might have the chance to decide a pair of workers’ rights questions next year.

A petition campaign to require businesses to offer employees paid sick and family leave has launched its signature-gathering drive. On the same day, a state elections board approved the form of a campaign to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour, which plans to start gathering names next month.

The minimum wage campaign would also require employers pay the $12 an hour even to workers who count tips as part of their earnings.

Alicia Farris chairs the One Fair Wage campaign. She says the drive is aimed, in particular, at helping restaurant workers.

“We’re looking for economic freedom for all workers in Michigan,” she said.  

The earned sick leave campaign would require employers to provide time off for illness or family business based on the number of hours worked.

“We all know what it’s like to get sick and to have to make that decision on whether or not you’re going to work, and, unfortunately, there are people who have to make that decision because it’s about making the rent,” said Danielle Atkinson of  the “Time to Care” campaign. “It’s about paying for childcare, and so they have to make a really tough decision and go to work sick.” 

Both are aiming to win a spot on the 2018 ballot if they don’t convince the Republican-controlled Legislature to adopt their initiatives.

Business groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce oppose the drives. Chamber President Richard Studley says both proposals would drive up costs for businesses and consumers.

“Part of the frustration we have is not only the damaging economic impact,” said Studley. “There will be fewer jobs for inexperienced people who need to get that first job.”

Both petition drives have been tried before and failed to get on the ballot.

Click here to read the Michigan earned sick time petition

Click here to read the Michigan minimum wage petition