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UUs Hard at Work to Raise the Wage in Michigan

March 11, 2014

All over the country, UUs are building momentum in the campaign to raise the minimum wage. Inspired by calls from UU leaders, UUSC President Rev. Bill Schulz, and President Obama, the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) is working hard to ensure that low-wage workers in their state get the raise they deserve.

The current minimum wages in Michigan are $7.40 per hour and $2.65 per hour for tipped workers. Raise Michigan, a coalition of groups from around the state, is petitioning to raise the wage — both for tipped and untipped workers — to $10.10 per hour by 2017. In order to do so, activists need to collect over 258,000 signatures by May 28. If they succeed, the initiative will head to the state legislature, where it will either be rejected, or accepted and enacted. If the legislature fails to act on or rejects the bill, the proposed wage increase will appear on the November ballot, for the voters to decide.

Thus far, the state legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) have not been supportive of raising the wage, but advocates for justice in the state are as enthused as ever.

MUUSJN is a statewide network of UUs who work with allies for progressive change. By partnering with groups such as Michigan United, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Mothering Justice, and the Center for Progressive Leadership, MUUSJN and its network of 1,400 activists are building capacity to foster change, while educating UUs and others throughout the state on the importance of raising the minimum wage.

Recruiting UUs to be campaign organizers, team leaders, and core volunteers, MUUSJN will keep its finger on the pulse of the minimum wage petition and enhance the role of UUs in fighting for justice. Dessa Cosma, director of Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL) and a UU, is leading free organizing training for those who agree to volunteer to help get a raise in Michigan’s minimum wage on the ballot. The training includes background on the minimum wage and ways to engage voters on the issue. People who complete the training are eligible to join the team of volunteers collecting signatures throughout Michigan’s 27 UU congregations.

Through their efforts, MUUSJN is expanding the call for economic justice beyond the UU community. By engaging with other faith and secular groups to create lasting change, they are helping to build a sustainable and inclusive future for all Michiganders.

Trainings will be held in the Lansing, Detroit, and Grand Rapids areas. For more information or to sign up, visit bit.ly/cplvolunteer. For more on MUUSJN, visit uujustice.org.

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