No Minimum Wage Madness in Michigan

Oklahoma’s legislature beat Michigan to the Death Star punch. Gov. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) said in April 2014 there would be no increase in the state’s minimum wage. The Oklahoma Legislature followed suit by approving legislation to block a drive in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

And the state of New York has had similar legislation on its books for several years.

But labor advocates and Democrats see this as not a multi-state fortuitous coincidence. They believe it is, at its heart, a conspiracy launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The Guardian reported ALEC has orchestrated a legislative drive to prohibit local control of the minimum wage in at least a dozen states, including Michigan and Oklahoma.

Help is only a click away for any of the other 38 states concerned with local officials messing around with their minimum wage. ALEC’s website contains a “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act” legislative template, which is designed to repeal “any local ‘living wage’ mandates, ordinances or laws enacted by political subdivisions of the state.”

The model legislation would also “prohibit political subdivisions from enacting laws establishing ‘living wage’ mandates on private businesses, including those businesses that have service contracts with and/or receive financial assistance from such political subdivisions of state government.”

ALEC sees the rising minimum wage as the most critical battle faced by the nation’s businesses and as a result the U.S. economy.

Well, Michigan has not seen the end of its minimum wage battles. Its state Senate has approved SB 250, which would lower the minimum wage paid to people under the age of 20 by $2 an hour.

Any business in the state can give that kind of a haircut to the paychecks of workers under 18. The idea is to make it more affordable to hire teenagers.

But paying someone old enough to fight and die in the military the same as a teenager splitting time between a part-time job, his high school glee club, and getting to second base with his girlfriend angers Dessa Cosma, executive director of the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan.

“Bills like these make it clear that Republican leadership in Lansing would rather work on behalf of well-connected lobbyists than work to improve the lives of those they represent,” Cosma said.

“Instead of listening to the lobbyists that swarm around their offices, those who voted for this pay cut should listen to the young people of Michigan who are working hard for their families and their futures.”