Thousands of tipped workers mobilize to protect and defend their legislated raise

A coalition of activists, actors and authors crisscrossed Michigan over the weekend, mobilizing thousands of tipped workers to encourage voter participation and urge the Michigan Legislature to protect the One Fair Wage proposal.

Actress, author and activist Jane Fonda, who spoke in Grand Rapids Friday night, joined Saru Jayaraman, president/co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) and Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter co-founder, in a series of events, rallies, and meetings with community/church leaders and elected officials in Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Benton Harbor and River Rouge.

Actress Taraji P. Henson joined the group Sunday for the One Fair Wage Protect and Defend Get Out The Vote rally at River Rouge High School.

One Fair Wage was adopted by the Legislature on Sept. 5, putting in motion incremental increases in the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022. The policy also raises the subminimum wage for tipped workers to the full minimum wage by 2024. However, the Legislature adopted One Fair Wage, it is reported, to keep it off the ballot and with plans to alter it after the election, undermining the democratic process.

“I support One Fair Wage because it will lift working families – especially women – out of poverty and move families off public assistance so they can be more independent,” Cullors said. “The Legislature’s disingenuous plan of gutting this policy after the election is a cynical ploy to undermine the will of more than 400,000 voters who signed the One Fair Wage petition.”

Encouraged by the minimum wage ballot proposal earlier this year and then mobilized after learning state legislators may gut the recently adopted law, thousands of registered voters participated in this weekend’s GOTV events.

“It’s women, and women of color, like me who are not going to let legislators steal from us the wage increases we would vote for if we had a chance this November. We are here to stay and we will vote for those candidates who protect Michigan working families,” said Detroit tipped worker Rachel Burnett.

“One Fair Wage will pump money into local communities, support small businesses and keep Michigan’s comeback going, which is why the Legislature should leave the policy in place as is,” Fonda said. “Adopting this proposal only to gut it in lame duck is a slap in the face to Michigan’s 1.3 million tipped workers.”

“A strong showing at the polls will send a message to lawmakers that voters are engaged and watching what they are doing,” Jayaraman said. “Voting is a tried and true way of holding your local legislators accountable for how they vote, who they stand for and who they stand against.”

The campaign recently launched a relational voter program designed to use personal connections to drive civic engagement. To date, the program has helped One Fair Wage register more than 11,000 workers to vote.

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