New $15 Minimum Wage Ballot Proposal Would Kill 44,000 Michigan Jobs

Anti-tipping activist group One Fair Wage announced it submitted enough signatures to qualify a measure that would create a $15 minimum wage and fully eliminate the state’s tip credit. If certified and approved on the ballot in November 2024, this measure would increase the state’s current tipped minimum wage by nearly 300 percent and bring harmful consequences to the state that are already playing out elsewhere in the country.

Research shows the proposal would kill jobs and reduce earnings for Michigan’s tipped employees: Economists from Miami and Trinity Universities find that a $15 minimum wage with tip credit elimination would result in nearly 44,000 jobs lost statewide – including close to 14,000 jobs lost by tipped restaurant and bar employees. They also estimate tip credit elimination alone could cost up to $48 million in employee earnings statewide and up to $6,800 annually for tipped employees’ families.

Servers and bartenders have already expressed their opposition to a tip credit ban in the state, warning that it would lead to a decrease in tips and employment opportunities.

The measure hit a roadblock this week — although the required signatures were gathered and submitted by proponents, Michigan’s Board of Canvassers found the original measure language had changed since it was originally submitted to begin the certification process. The Board deadlocked over whether or not to certify the measure, failing to send it to the ballot officially for November 2024.

This isn’t the first time Michiganders have been confronted with this issue. In 2018, state legislators chose to adopt a similar proposed measure, and after hearing concerns from local business owners and employees on potential job losses and business closures, amended the proposal to set the current minimum wage law. As of now, Michigan’s minimum wage is set to incrementally rise to reach $12.05 per hour in several years, and continues to protect the state’s tip credit. One Fair Wage activists sued to reinstate the original $15 minimum wage, which was initially upheld in a lower court but reversed in the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Michigan Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments soon on this case, and has the chance to protect small businesses and their employees from the harmful consequences of a $15 minimum wage and full tip credit elimination.