With a global pandemic still ravaging families, communities and the economy, bad policy is putting the health of all Michiganders and our loved ones at risk; and a growing number of people are in economically precarious circumstances. Attorney General Nessel must take immediate action to enact paid sick leave and an increased minimum wage, and by doing so deliver justice to people for whom justice has been too long delayed.

To: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Dear Attorney General Nessel, Thank you for the leadership you’ve shown during this pandemic. And thank you to your staff members reading this for all the work you’re putting in right now. We, the undersigned individuals, organizations and legislators respectfully request that you implement a solution which will sustain millions of Michigan workers through the duration of this, and future, public health issues and economic downturns. As previously requested by Senator Chang, we urge you to take action regarding Michigan Time To Care (PA 338) and raising the minimum wage (PA 337).

In the wake of the global pandemic, President Biden has encouraged us to Build Back Better. To rebuild, Michigan families and workers need to be able to take paid time off when sick. Withholding paid sick time under normal circumstances is bad policy; during a pandemic it’s a public health disaster. Tipped and untipped workers need to earn at least twelve dollars per hour. The American Rescue Package is giving $28.6 billion of targeted relief to independent restaurant operators to help them take the next step in recovery. It’s time for workers to take the next step too. Michigan could be at the forefront of advancing equitable wages for people risking their lives during a pandemic working low wage frontline jobs.

In May of 2018 Michigan Time To Care (MTTC) and the MOFW ballot committee each filed proposals setting forth that workers would accrue one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked, and to raise the Michigan minimum wage to twelve dollars per hour for all workers including those making the sub-minimum tipped wage. Instead, the Republican legislature engaged in the devious tactic now known as Adopt and Amend -- adopting ballot measures with the express intent of muting democratic participation and gutting the laws.

Despite polls showing that over 70% of Michigan voters support earned paid sick time and raising the minimum wage, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation enacting anemic, hollow versions of these proposals into law. This action left 1.7 million people, or half the Michigan workforce, without access to paid sick time during a global pandemic. In Michigan 33.2% of workers make less than $12/hr and 45.8% make less than $15/hr. Tipped workers in Michigan make $3.67 and many who are laid off due to the pandemic have not been eligible for unemployment protections. By 2022 this will result in $10,358 in stolen wages from the average full-time worker. Even the paltry minimum wage increase scheduled for January 1st, 2021 did not go into effect because the amended law prevents raises if there are high unemployment numbers.

As Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson aptly noted, “Both the Michigan Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protect Michigan citizens’ right to amend our laws or state constitution through direct citizen petitions.” Adopt and Amend sets the alarming precedent of blocking Michigan citizens from engaging in the democratic process, regardless of their purpose or which party is in power.

If enacted as they were originally written and adopted into law, this legislation will help alleviate poverty and allow workers who are ill to stay home, thus preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19. If you opt to passively allow these inequitable and unconstitutional practices to stand, the legal avenue for citizens to enact laws through popular initiatives may be blocked on any issue. Further, the legislature acted on behalf of special interests who publicly celebrated their intent to obstruct Michigan voters from engaging in the democratic process, dangerously undermining voting rights.

You have the power to rectify the situation with the stroke of your pen. Please take immediate action to enact paid sick leave and increase the minimum wage. Deliver justice to people for whom justice has been long delayed.

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