Democratic nominee for governor unveils minimum wage plan in Detroit
The man who wants Gov. Rick Snyder’s job has already begun flexing his political muscle by taking on an issue that has long been the bane of the struggle between liberals and conservatives: the minimum wage.
Democrat Mark Schauer, who will be the nominee for governor for Michigan Democrats in 2014, came to Detroit this week to announce a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour.
This, according to Schauer, will match the purchasing power of the minimum wage during its peak in 1968.
“This is just common-sense economics. When working families have more to spend on things like gas, groceries and clothes for their kids, it creates demand,” Schauer said. “And when demand increases, small businesses grow and hire more workers. Minimum wage workers have waited long enough for a raise. It’s time to do what’s right for our families, our businesses and our economy by raising the minimum wage.”
The Schauer plan would be phased in three years and the minimum wage would increase from the current rate of $7.40 to $8.00 in year one, $8.60 in year two and $9.25 in year three.
Moving forward, the Democratic flag bearer said the minimum wage would then be tied to inflation, and said the hourly rate should be indexed to the Consumer Price Index, with adjustments taking place every two years.
Already some working people are receiving Schauer’s plan as realistic and just what the working class needs. Kim Pearce, grocery store employee in Detroit, has embraced the minimum wage proposal from the Democrat.
“Working hard is part of who we are in Michigan,” Pearce said. “But no matter how hard we work, families like mine are still struggling to get ahead. Raising the minimum wage would help lift up thousands of families across the state.”
The battle for minimum wage increase already is gaining a lot of traction with California passing minimum wage to $10. In that case the wage will be implemented in two phases: an increase to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by a $1 increase to $10 in 2016.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs. This legislation is overdue and will help families who are struggling in this harsh economy,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in support of the new law.
In Seattle, Washington, voters on Nov. 5 passed Proposition 1 by 54-46 percent, which calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage for airport, hotel and restaurant workers, the highest in the nation. Called the Sea-Tac initiative, it will affect workers in and near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The current wage is $9.19.
The Michigan League for Public Policy is applauding the move by Schauer on the minimum wage.
“No one who works hard should be forced to work for poverty wages, whether they are parents supporting young kids or teenagers who are just starting their working lives,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “But this is exactly what we’re asking many minimum-wage workers to do — to put in their time at work and still remain poor.”
Erica Hill, Detroit political observer and campaign veteran, said while Schauer’s minimum wage announcement is a good start, the leader of the Democratic pack for 2014 cannot just rely on traditional supporters.
“He has to identify with newer, non-traditional voters, within the 18-35 demographic, utilize social media, establish a ground game in urban centers early and establish solutions that challenge Gov. Synder on issues such as emergency management, Right to Work, pension dissolution and public education,” Hill said. “He should clearly establish how democracy is currently being undermined and how he can help to restore it.”
Hill said minimum wage is not enough to reduce voter apathy and give voters a reason to show up at the polls.
“I believe it is a step in the right direction, as long as the party is prepared to take on the fight by our corporate friends,” Hill said. “We don’t want to muddy the water like we did in 2012, with an extremely crowded ballot, but taking another stab at the Emergency Manager Law may excite some voters, considering how Detroit is currently fairing under the law.”
Democrats have come under fire numerous times for not paying attention to the urban vote.
“Time after time, election year after election year, urban centers only come into play at the end of the election cycle, in both thought and financial investment,” Hill said. “The one thing that has not changed about Michigan politics is the fact that as Detroit goes, so does the region. This is the perfect opportunity to allow Detroit to work for the party. Make no assumptions.”
She said the streets of Detroit are still “simmering from the mayoral election. Don’t let the energy die. Capitalize on it by investing in a solid ground game in urban centers, now.”
Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.