For nearly a year, activists and organizers with MI Time to Care worked day and night collecting signatures in the fight for earned paid sick time in Michigan. Our goal was to put a question on the ballot that would have allowed all working people in Michigan to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours on the job.
We didn’t quite make it, but we’re going to continue on because this campaign is too important and too many people need this vital tool in their lives. It’s about families, it’s about justice and it’s about creating a better Michigan for everyone.
An astonishing number of Michiganders – 1.5 million – don’t have the opportunity to take time to care for themselves or a loved one when they’re ill without fear of losing out on their paycheck or being fired.
Allowing people to take time off work when they’re sick without the fear of missing bill payments or affording medication should not be a controversial issue – and in Michigan, it isn’t. The vast majority of voters support the opportunity for all working people to earn paid sick time.
It was a simple, fair and just proposal. However, a combination of conservatives in the legislature changing the rules at the last minute and the prohibitive costs to running such a campaign from the grassroots forced us to sideline our campaign.
The ability of citizens to petition their representatives in government through ballot drives is becoming increasingly difficult because of legislative shell games and prohibitive costs that are set up to deny us our right to have a say in our democracy.
But the push for earned paid sick leave for all is far from over. That’s why we’ve re-launched our campaign with an eye for the November 2018 ballot. With the experience of this last campaign, we have grown as a coalition. We have learned where we made mistakes, have built up the relationships that we need to succeed and know we continue to have the backing of Michigan families.
We have the support from social justice, economic and labor organizations across the state. And most importantly, we are unhindered in our quest to create a state where no one is left behind and everyone has an opportunity to get ahead.
Despite our setback in an effort to get to the ballot this year, we are undeterred. We will be back on the streets asking Michiganders to back earned paid sick time for all working people. And we know we’ll have their support because they were there for us before.
Conservatives in the legislature may continue to stack the deck against grassroots campaigns like ours in favor of wealthy corporate interests, but by working together we can build thriving communities where every working person is able to take care of themselves and their families.
We stand strong in the fight for economic justice for all and we will be back out there again with a new signature effort for 2018.
Dave Woodward is chair of Raise Michigan and an Oakland County Commissioner.
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