Protect & Defend
EJAM’s Protect & Defend Campaign was created to save the voter led One Fair Wage (OFW) and Earned Paid Sick Time (EPST) proposals. If adopted into law, the ballot initiatives would have increased the state minimum wage to $12 by 2022, raised the subminimum salary to the full minimum wage by 2024, and required employers to provide workers with nine sick days per year. In the lame-duck session, however, the Michigan legislature gutted the minimum wage law and killed OFW for more than 160,000 tipped workers who earn just $3.52 per hour. Michigan legislators approved the bill in September to preempt it going to the November ballot, which would have made it harder to amend later. The gutted version went into effect March 29, increasing the minimum wage by .35.
To preserve the original contents of the OFW and EPST proposals, EJAM alliance members adopted a multi-channel approach to:
- Raise awareness of new laws in targeted districts
- Increase popularity of laws in targeted districts
- Encourage voters to ask legislators to protect and defend laws
Detroit People’s Platform (DPP) and Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) were particularly active, scheduling phone banks and conducting door-to-door canvassing.
In December 2018, a team of experienced canvassers from MUUSJN traveled to Escanaba, Traverse City, and Muskegon (cities in the northern part of the state) where they distributed 963 flyers (see attached) to the same number of homes in 51 hours. Almost half of the leaflets (427) were distributed in Escanaba and Escanaba Township in the Upper Peninsula.
In collaboration with EJAM partners, DPP took the lead on developing educational messaging and materials for the campaign. They also set up a phone bank, and 13 canvassers made more than 17,000 calls to let people know how they could be supportive. In tandem, they used social media to educate the public about the OFW and EPST legislative outcome. In November 2018, the group distributed OFW and EPST literature at select polling places in three city council districts. Another outreach effort was a text campaign done with assistance from Progress Michigan, an EJAM ally. People who responded were contacted to ask if they were willing to volunteer, attend a lobby day, contact a legislature, or donate.