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Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in on state minimum wage

Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in on state minimum wage
Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in on state minimum wage 02:23

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Michigan's minimum wage could change when the state Supreme Court weighs in. 

A case from 2018 is at the center of a decision that should be coming down the pipe from the Michigan Supreme Court.

"There are so many states about to follow Michigan's lead because of this Supreme Court decision, and the only question is not whether tipped workers are about to get one fair wage because they're about to get one fair wage here in Michigan for the first time since emancipation. The only question is, will the legislature leave the wage at $12," said Saru Jayaraman, the president of One Fair Wage. 

According to supporters of the change, that 2018 ballot initiative would have raised the state's minimum wage to $12 per hour. However, lawmakers at the time used a political strategy called "amend and adopt" that diluted the proposal. 

The Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in on whether that move by the legislature was constitutional. If the justices determine it is unconstitutional, low-wage workers could be getting a raise. 

"We went from zero dollars in 1938 for tipped workers to $2.13 an hour at the federal level for tipped workers and just over three dollars here in the great state of Michigan," Jayaraman said. "Michigan has been one of 43 states that persists with this legacy of slavery, but that is about to change."

A change like this is welcome news for some workers, but restaurant owners are one group worried about the wider impact of this change. 

"If you're going to see the elimination of the tip credit now, you're going to see dramatic fallout. We've polled the industry, and we understand that 1 in 6 full-service restaurants will just shut down," said Justin Winslow, the president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. "We think 40 to 60,000 restaurant jobs would be would be lost in very short order."

One advocate for tipped workers reiterated that concern. 

"We could be losing upwards of at least 30,000 jobs across Michigan inside restaurants," said John Sellek, a spokesman for Save MI Tips. "That doesn't just mean the jobs only go away to get that level of economic damage. It means whole restaurants are going to close because they simply can't operate on that economic model."

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