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MLive, the Minimum Wage challenge and the people behind both campaigns

July 17, 2018

On Friday, MLive reported that there is a group that is legally challenging the Michigan Ballot Initiative for an increase in the state’s minimum wage. 

MLive reported that the group Michigan Opportunity, is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to not allow the One Fair Wage campaign initiative to be on the ballot this fall. The One Fair Wage campaign is calling for a $12 an hour minimum wage in Michigan. 

The MLive article states:

“We firmly believe that the Michigan One Fair Wage petition, financed almost exclusively by out-of-state interests, has willfully violated Michigan’s Constitution and … election law to achieve the special interest ends of their financiers,” Michigan Opportunity committee spokesman Justin Winslow said in the release. 

The MLive article also cites someone with the One Fair Wage campaign:

“Michigan One Fair Wage will be intervening in the lawsuit to defend the petition and will be responding to the challenges filed with the Board of Canvassers,” said Mark Brewer, legal counsel to the Michigan One Fair Wage.

The MLive article doesn’t provide any background for either Justin Winslow, the group Michigan Opportunity or Mark Brewer.

According to the campaign finance requirements, which you can find on the Michigan Secretary of State office, the group Michigan Opportunity received $100,000 from the Michigan Restaurant Association in April to fund their effort to defeat the One Fair Wage campaign. The MLive article does say that Michigan Opportunity, is “an opposition group with ties to the Michigan Restaurant Association.”

However, upon further investigation, saying Michigan Opportunity has ties to the Michigan Restaurant Association is somewhat misleading. MLive does quote Justin Winslow from the Michigan Opportunity group, but fails to mention that he is also the President of the Michigan Restaurant Association and has been since 2015

Prior to that position, it is important to note that Winslow has served as, “chief of staff for Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, leading appropriations and legislative strategy. He also served as legislative director for Sen. Tony Stamas, R-Midland, and director of external affairs for Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Troy.

On the other side, it should be noted that Mark Brewer, the person cited in the MLive article, as legal counsel to the One Fair Wage campaign, is the former head of the Michigan Democratic Party. As with so many of the ballot initiatives, they are highly partisan.

Lastly, it should be noted that there has been a national campaign to make $15 an hour the federal minimum wage. The current minimum wage in Michigan makes it impossible for most people making minimum wage to afford housing with the current market rate for housing. 

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