Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)

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A Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative was not on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Michigan as an indirect initiated state statute. The measure would have increased the state minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years and index the wage to inflation. It would have also increased the minimum wage for tip workers by 85¢ per year until it reached $10.10.[1]

The Minimum Wage Law of 1964, which the initiative sought to amend, was repealed and superseded on May 28, 2014, by Senate Bill 934. The primary purpose of the supersession was to render the minimum wage initiative moot.[2]

On May 28, 2014, Raise Michigan and other supporters submitted 320,000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State.[3] However, the election board rejected the initiative because proponents had too many duplicates in their sample.[4]


Michigan's minimum wage, prior to the implementation of SB 934, was $7.40 per hour. The federal minimum wage in 2014 was $7.25 per hour. The tip wage for waiters, bartenders and the like was $2.65 per hour in Michigan.[5]


The campaign in support of the measure was led by Raise Michigan.[6]

Raise Michigan Logo.jpeg




  • Michigan United[8]
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan
  • Mothering Justice
  • Center for Progressive Leadership
  • Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES)


Michael Reich, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and professor of economics at UC-Berkeley, and Ken Jacobs, chairperson of the Center for Labor Research and Education at Berkeley, said, "With the national debate stuck in the same old rut, states and cities have again become laboratories of democracy. Are they on the right path? For the last 15 years we have been doing research on just this question." The two wrote an op-ed supporting actions to raise the minimum wage at the state and local levels:[9]

  • They highlighted their research on San Francisco, a city with a municipality-wide minimum wage higher than the state's, saying, “After adding the effects of other local laws mandating employers to pay for sick leave and health spending, the minimum compensation standard at larger firms in San Francisco reaches $13. Our studies show that the impact of these laws on workers’ wages (and access to health care) is strong and positive and that none of the dire predictions of employment loss have come to pass. Research at the University of New Mexico on Santa Fe’s floor (now $10.66) found similar results.”
  • “But how can minimum wage increases not have negative effects on employment? After all, according to basic economic theory, an increase in the price of labor should reduce employer demand for labor… Our research and that of other scholars illuminates how businesses actually absorb minimum wages at low-wage industries. Higher standards have an immediate effect in reducing employee turnover, leading to significant cost savings. Minimum wage increases do lead to small price increases, mainly in restaurants, which are intensive users of low-paid workers. How much? A 10 percent minimum wage increase adds 0.7 cents on the dollar to restaurant prices. Price increases in most other sectors, like retail, are too small to be visible, partly because retail pays more than restaurants.”

Other arguments in support of the initiative included:

  • Frank Houston, consultant for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan, argued, “Our politicians in both Lansing and Congress have failed us, so we have to start looking at other ways to move this issue forward and get people a raise. It's ridiculous that working people have had to wait on politicians to get this done when there is overwhelming support. It's really unacceptable.”[10]
  • Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift stated, “The failure to pay employees a livable minimum wage is bad for workers, and it is bad for our state. An economy with a collapsing floor erodes the middle class and depresses consumer demand. The less you pay a worker, the less money he or she spends in the local community.”[5]

Campaign contributions

Proponents received $354,015 in contributions.[11]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Raise Michigan $354,015 $174,419
Total $354,015 $174,419

Top 7 contributors:

Donor Amount
Restaurant Opportunities Center Action Fund $100,000
Michigan United Ballot Committee $90,121
National Employment Law Project $50,000
AFT AAUP Michigan $50,000
Restaurant Opportunities Center MI Campaign to Raise Michigan $24,000
Progress MI Minimum Wage Committee $16,475
Center For Progressive Leadership $10,594


People Protecting Michigan Jobs, a campaign organization supported by the Michigan Restaurant Association, led the campaign in opposition to the initiative.[12]




  • Michigan Chamber of Commerce[8]
  • Michigan Restaurant Association[15]


  • Wendy Block, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, argued, "If Michigan increases the cost of employing entry-level workers, lower-skilled workers will see less job opportunities because employers will be forced to hire higher-skilled job applicants to fill multiple roles or cut jobs to absorb the costs associated with the increase."[5]

Tactics and strategies


Sens. Rick Jones (R-24), Randy Richardville (R-17) and Rep. Margaret O'Brien (R-61) each proposed minimum wage increases as alternatives to the initiative. The alternative statutes were introduced to raise the hourly minimum wage to $8.15. Richardville's SB 934 was later amended to raise the minimum wage to $9.25 by 2018 in a compromise with Democrats. Richardville's bill, unlike the other two, would repeal 1964 PA 154, the statute that the initiative sought to amend. Therefore, the initiative would have changed a law that no longer exists and have no effect. Sen. Richardville, acknowledging this, said, "If it wasn’t a situation I felt was critical, I’d let the (ballot initiative) process go along as it is. This is just too important."[16] Ultimately, Sen. Richardville's bill was passed and signed by the governor.

The following is a comparison of Jones' SB 912, O'Brien's HB 5579, Richardville's SB 934 and Raise Michigan's initiative and how they would each affect 1964 PA 154, also known as the "Minimum Wage Law of 1964":

Comparison of SB 912, HB 5579, SB 934 and Raise Michigan's Initiative
Minimum Wage Proposal SB 912 (Jones)[17]

Rick Jones.jpg

HB 5579 (O'Brien)[18]

Margaret O'Brien.jpg

SB 934 (Richardville)[19]


Raise Michigan Initiative[20]

Raise Michigan Logo.jpeg

Effect on 1964 PA 154 Amends 1964 PA 154, Sections 4 and 7a Amends 1964 PA 154, Sections 4, 4b and 7a Repeals 1964 PA 154 Amends 1964 PA 154, Sections 4 and 7a
Wage Increase and Date On December 1, 2014 to $8.15 On December 1, 2014 to $8.15 for those 21+
On September 1, 2014 to $8.15

On January 1, 2016 to $8.50
On January 1, 2017 to $8.90
On January 1, 2018 to $9.25
Thereafter, indexed to consumer price increases

On January 1, 2015 to $8.10

On January 1, 2016 to $9.10
On January 1, 2017 to $10.10
Thereafter, indexed to inflation

Tipped Wage Increase and Date On December 1, 2014 to $2.75 On December 1, 2014 to $2.75 On September 1, 2014 to 38% of the minimum hourly wage rate

Thereafter, 38% of the minimum hourly wage rate

On January 1, 2015 to $3.50

Thereafter, 85¢ per year until $10.10

SB 912

Sen. Rick Jones (R-24) introduced a senate bill to increase the state's hourly minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 on April 24, 2014. Jones said the bill is meant to counter the ballot initiative, which would increase the minimum wage to $10.10. He stated, "My intent is to stop the ballot initiative because of the crushing blow it will deal to Michigan restaurants."[21] The Michigan Restaurant Association, an opponent of the initiative, called the bill a "far more reasonable and rational" proposal. Sen. Bert Johnson (D-2) said he supports the bill, despite disagreeing that the legislation goes far enough. He noted, "If you make $7.40 today and you make $8.15 tomorrow, you can't call that a bad day at the office. Is it where we want to be at the end of the day? No. But do you ever get anything you really want out of this process … No. So you take what you can get." Johnson acknowledged that the bill could hurt the ballot initiative.

Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice and Raise Michigan stated, "While it is somewhat encouraging that Republicans in the legislature have finally realized that Michigan workers deserve a raise, this proposal does little to lift families out of poverty and falls short of the goals of the Raise Michigan Coalition."[14]

HB 5579

Rep. Margaret O'Brien (R-61) introduced House Bill 5579. The bill differs from Jones' in one key way. The proposal differentiates the hourly minimum wage for people less than 21 years of age and people 21 and older. For people under 21, the minimum wage would stay the same at $7.40. For people 21 and older, the minimum wage would be $8.15.[18]

SB 934

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-17) proposed his own bill, distinct from Jones', to raise the minimum wage to $8.15. After negotiations with Democrats, the bill was amended to increase the wage to $9.25 by 2018.[22] Sen. Richardville's bill was different in that the legislation would repeal the current law and create a new one, rather than just amending the statute. This invalidated Raise Michigan's initiative since their initiative would have amended a repealed statute. The initiative would have been rendered moot and merely symbolic.[23]

Sen. Richardville, acknowledging that his bill would damage the initiative, said, "If it wasn’t a situation I felt was critical, I’d let the (ballot initiative) process go along as it is. This is just too important."[16]

Bob McCann, spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-23), stated, "The legislation is very clearly designed to render the ballot initiate moot because you can’t amend a law that no longer exists." Danielle Atkinson of Raise Michigan also criticized the legislation, saying, "Clearly, conservatives are running scared and this is a last ditch effort to cheat Michigan workers out of a living wage."[24] Donyetta Hill, a petition gatherer, argued, "If the Senator takes our petitions away, it hurts us. Our voice is being taken away from us and it’s not right. The Senator is playing dirty games and we won’t forget this."[25]

Jack Lessenberry, professor of journalism and political commentator, strongly criticized the bill and Sen. Richardville. He said:

There’s an old saying that conservative lawmakers are for local control, except when they’re not... Now, we’ve learned that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, believes in democracy, except when he doesn’t. In the past, Richardville has staunchly supported Michigan voters’ decisions to outlaw gay marriage and affirmative action. But he doesn’t want to allow voters to vote to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour... Now, it would be one thing to campaign against this amendment, and encourage people to vote it down. That would be perfectly legitimate, regardless of whether you agree. But what Richardville wants to do instead is sabotage the referendum... In other words, Big Brother, or Big Randy, knows best. What is particularly hilarious, or contemptible, is that Richardville doesn’t want much of a hearing on his bill either. Instead of referring it to a committee, he is keeping it on the floor.


—Jack Lessenberry [27]

On May 15, 2014, the Michigan Senate approved the amended SB 934 with bipartisan support in a 24 to 14 vote.[28] The Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill 76 to 34. Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-106) said he voted for the bill because "the alternative is terrible." On May 28, 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law.[29]

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which originally supported Richardville's bill, stated its opposition to the amended SB 934.[30] The Michigan Restaurant Association and National Federation of Independent Business also criticized the compromise.[31]

Media editorial positions


  • Holland Sentinel, endorsing SB 934, said, "Here, legislators are giving citizen activists much of what they want, not denying their efforts. The success of the Raise Michigan coalition in gathering signatures has already affected policy. In spurring Republican state senators to raise the minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.20, they have achieved two-thirds of their goal, which, in the world of politics, is generally described as a victory."[32]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Denno Research
AVERAGES 60.5% 35.5% 4% +/-4 600
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Reports and analyses

Economic Policy Institute

Economic Policy Institute (EPI), an economics think tank that supports an increased minimum wage, analyzed the relationship between higher state minimum wages and changes in economic conditions to hypothesize about the effects that would be generated by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would increase the minimum hourly wage to $10.10. Multiple initiative campaigns have cited the research as a supporting argument. EPI developed the two following key points:[33]

  • Such an hourly amount would restore the minimum wage to an inflation-adjusted value equivalent to the minimum wage in 1968. “It is important to also recognize that today’s minimum wage has not fallen to exceptional lows out of economic necessity. Over the past 45 years, the U.S. economy has vastly expanded, and productivity (our ability to produce goods and services for the same amount of work) has more than doubled. Yet the minimum wage—our agreed-upon standard for the minimum amount a worker in our society should be paid—has been left to stagnate and decline.”
  • An increased minimum wage would create more consumer demand and thus create more jobs and spur economic growth. “Research over the past two decades has shown that, despite skeptics’ claims, modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no negative impact on jobs. In fact, under current labor market conditions, where tepid consumer demand is a major factor holding businesses back from expanding their payrolls, raising the minimum wage can provide a catalyst for new hiring.” Such an increase would indirectly raise the wages of an additional 27.8 million workers, who would receive about $35 billion in additional wages over the phase-in period.

To read the full report, see here.

Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report on the “principal effects” of increasing the minimum hourly wage to $9.00 or $10.10. An increase to $10.10, the office concluded, would have a more substantial effect on wages and employment than $9.00. The CBO made the following conclusions about raising the minimum wage:

  • An increase to $9.00 would reduce total employment by about 100,000 and an increase to $10.10 by approximately 500,000. The CBO postulated that this would happen because employers would raise commodity prices to offset wage increases.
  • An increase may be accompanied by reductions in real-income due to inflation and higher consumer prices.
  • The aggregate income, after increases and losses, would still be net positive for low-income families. The aggregate would be an increase of $2 billion.
  • A minimum wage hike to $10.10 would boost an average family's income by about three percent.
  • The hike would also move about 900,000 people above the poverty line. Currently, 45 million people live below the poverty line.
  • Raising the minimum wage would cause a small decrease in federal budget deficits for several years following.

To read the full report, see here.

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

Supporters were required to gather 258,087 valid signatures and submit them by May 28, 2014 to the Office of the Secretary of State. Since the measure was an indirect initiated state statute, the legislature would have had the opportunity to approve or disapprove the minimum wage increase. They would have had 40 days to do so following signature certification. If they disapproved the measure or did nothing, it would have gone on the November general election ballot. On May 28, 2014, Raise Michigan and other supporters submitted 320,000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State.[3]

First proposal

On February 10, 2014, proponents submitted their first initiative proposal to the Office of the Secretary of State. The first proposal would increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.50.[34]

Second proposal

On February 17, 2014, Raise Michigan submitted a second ballot measure proposal to the Office of the Secretary of State. The second proposal would increase the hourly minimum wage to $10.10. Frank Houston stated the organization's reasoning, saying, "The public support was there for a higher wage."[1] On February 19, the Board of State Canvassers approved the second proposal.[35]

Board of State Canvassers

People Protecting Michigan Jobs, a campaign organization supported by the Michigan Restaurant Association, sought to convince the board of state canvassers not to certify the minimum wage initiative. Their argument, filed by attorneys John Pirich and Andrea Hansen, said the board must deny certification because the ballot measure would ask voters to amend a law that doesn't exist.[36]

People Protecting Michigan Jobs also contested the signatures submitted. The board determined - in a 3 to 1 split - that the measure would not qualify for the ballot based on the number of duplicate signatures in the sample. Their projection illustrated that the initiative would come up 3,900 signatures short. However, the complaint was filed by People Protecting Michigan Jobs twelve days after the deadline for complaint submissions. Raise Michigan claimed it wasn't fair for the board to hear a complaint submitted the day before their decision and twelves days after the deadline. Oakland County Democratic chairman Frank Houston said, "The fix was in early. There’s an issue of fairness. It was clear they were looking to keep this off the ballot."[4]

Similar measures

The following measures related to minimum wage increases were proposed for the general election ballot in November 2014:

See also

Suggest a link

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 MLive, "Michigan minimum wage group increases proposal to $10.10 per hour," February 17, 2014
  2. The Times Herald, "Minimum wage will rise to $9.25 after Snyder signs law; ballot measure now moot," May 27, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Republic, "Michigan grassroots group submits 320,000 signatures for $10.10 minimum wage ballot measure," May 28, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Detroit News, "$10 minimum wage off Michigan ballot," July 24, 2014 (dead link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Battle Creek Enquirer, "Group forms to get increase on Nov. ballot," January 27, 2014
  6. Raise Michigan
  7. WEMU, "Ballot Proposal to Raise Michigan's Minimum Wage Possible This Year," January 27, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Detroit News, "Groups plan to form ballot campaign to raise Michigan's minimum wage," January 27, 2014 (dead link)
  9. New York Times, "All Economics Is Local," March 22, 2014
  10. MLive, "Michigan coalition seeks to raise minimum wage through ballot proposal," January 27, 2014
  11. Michigan Secretary of State, "Michigan Committee Statement of Organization," accessed April 28, 2014
  12. MLive, "Michigan minimum wage: Restaurant group forms ballot committee as it explores legal options," May 30, 2014
  13. Greenfield Daily Reporter, "Plan set for hiking Mich.'s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016, eventually include tipped workers," February 10, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 MLive, "Republican Senator proposes Michigan minimum wage increase to undermine ballot proposal," April 24, 2014
  15. The Detroit News, "Mich. GOP leaders: Little chance of minimum wage hike by Legislature," February 11, 2014 (dead link)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Detroit Free Press, "Brian Dickerson: Michigan GOP concocts way to silence the voice of voters," May 10, 2014
  17. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Bill No. 912," accessed May 12, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Michigan Legislature, "House Bill No. 5579," accessed May 15, 2014
  19. Michigan Legislature, "Senate Bill No. 934," accessed May 28, 2014
  20. Michigan Secretary of State, "Full Text of Statewide Ballot Proposals," May 6, 2014
  21. Michigan Radio, "State senator offers minimum wage hike alternative," April 24, 2014
  22. MLive, "Michigan minimum wage would rise to $9.20 by 2017 under compromise bill passed by Senate," May 15, 2014
  23. Michigan Radio, "Latest GOP minimum wage salvo could spark restaurant war," May 9, 2014
  24. The Detroit News, "Bill could block Michigan minimum wage ballot issue," May 8, 2014
  25. The Times Herald, "Supporters of Michigan minimum wage increase call counter bill 'dirty games'," May 13, 2014
  26. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  27. Michigan Radio, "Michigan's minimum-wage bill could render your vote null and void," May 13, 2014
  28. Lansing State Journal, "Michigan Senate OKs minimum wage hike to $9.20, putting petition drive at risk," May 15, 2014
  29. The Kansas City Star, "Michigan's Snyder signs bill raising minimum wage," May 27, 2014 (dead link)
  30. MLive, "Michigan business groups oppose latest minimum wage compromise," May 19, 2014
  31. Greenfield Daily Reporter, "Restaurant, retail organizations oppose minimum wage raise in Michigan House committee hearing," May 21, 2014
  32. Holland Sentinel, "Our View: Minimum-wage compromise is a good deal for Michigan," May 22, 2014 (dead link)
  33. Economics Policy Institute, "Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Lift Wages for Millions and Provide a Modest Economic Boost," December 19, 2013
  34. Detroit Free Press, "Supporters ask Michigan voters to OK minimum wage of $9.50," February 10, 2014
  35. Detroit Free Press, "Michigan approves revamped petition pushing for $10.10 minimum wage," February 19, 2014
  36. Crain's Detroit Business, "Next battle in minimum wage fight looms in Lansing," July 20, 2014