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2018 Election Review: Employment & Labor Ballot Measures

Voters in three states weighed in on employment-related ballot measures on Tuesday. Measures in Arkansas and Missouri to raise the minimum wage both passed overwhelmingly. Voters approved Issue 5 in Arkansas, which will raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2021 and Proposition B in Missouri, which will increase the minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023.  California Proposition 11 also passed, allowing ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call with pay during breaks.

Employment-related activity at the ballot notably decreased in 2018 compared to 2014 and 2016, when voters increased the minimum wage in four states each year and decided whether to enact right-to-work laws in several states.

Some of the downturn in ballot activity can be attributed to the legislatures in Delaware (DE SB 170), Massachusetts (MA HB 4640), and Michigan (Initiative Petition Workforce Opportunity Wage Act), all of which enacted legislation this year to increase the minimum wage. Legislation in Delaware increased the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on October 1, 2018, and to $9.25 per hour October 1, 2019. In Massachusetts and Michigan, the legislatures acted specifically to keep voters from deciding on ballot measures.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed a “Grand Bargain” bill in June that incrementally increases the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years and eliminates required overtime pay on Sundays and holidays. The legislation also includes a paid family and medical leave program that was set to appear before voters as well. Prior to the passage of the “Grand Bargain,” both the Massachusetts $15 Minimum Wage Initiative and the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Initiative, backed by Raise Up Massachusetts, were on their way to the ballot. Afterward, proponents agreed to drop the initiatives and did not submit the additional 10,792 signatures required to put the measures before voters.

In Michigan, the legislature voted to enact the proposed Michigan One Fair Wage initiative, which increases the minimum wage to $12 per hour, and the “MI Time to Care” initiative, which mandates that employers provide employees with paid sick leave that accrues at a rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked. It is highly likely that voters would have approved the initiatives if they had appeared on the ballot, which would have barred the legislature from amending them except with a three-fourths vote. Because the Republican-controlled legislature enacted the initiatives, it may now make changes to the legislation with a simple majority.

Read on for full descriptions of the ballot measures in Arkansas, California, and Missouri.  

Minimum Wage_ 2018 (2)

Arkansas Issue 5: Minimum Wage Increase Initiative
Arkansas Issue 5 would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2021, beginning with an increase from the current minimum wage of $8.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2019. Arkansans for a Fair Wage is registered in support of Issue 5, with backing from the Fairness Project, Sixteen Thirty Fund, and National Employment Law Project. Thus far, it has raised over $600,000 for the initiative. Arkansans for a Strong Economy is registered in opposition to Issue 5 and has raised around $16,000, but has not yet spent any money.

California Proposition 11: Ambulance Employees Paid On-Call Breaks, Training, and Mental Health Services Initiative
California Proposition 11 is a response to the 2016 California Supreme Court ruling in Augustus v. ABM Security Services that found on-call employment rest breaks violated state labor law. Proposition 11 would allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during their breaks, which would be paid. Californians for Emergency Preparedness and Safety is leading the supporting campaign for the proposition, having raised $21.9 million and spent $12 million.

Missouri Proposition B: $12 Minimum Wage Initiative
Missouri Proposition B incrementally increases the minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023, with annual increases or decreases thereafter tied to the Consumer Price Index. Currently, the minimum wage in Missouri is $7.85 per hour. If passed, the wage would rise to $8.60 per hour on January 1, 2019, with scheduled annual increases until 2023. Raise Up Missouri is registered in support of Proposition B, with support from the Fairness Project, Sixteen Thirty Fund, and National Employment Law Project. Raise Up Missouri has raised $1.74 million in support of Proposition B and spent $1.08 million. No committees have registered in opposition to Proposition B.

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