Detroit City Council supports $15 per hour minimum wage

Detroit City Council supports $15 per hour minimum wage
Tyler Clifford, Crain’s Detroit Business

Detroit City Council is backing a movement toward increasing wages for the city’s service workers, approving Tuesday a resolution to support a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

While the vote is symbolic and nonbinding, the city’s nine council members say they are backing the Service Employees International Union Local 1’s “One Detroit” campaign that seeks to secure at least $15 an hour for downtown sanitation workers as 1,700 members begin contract negotiations with janitorial service companies Wednesday. The union launched the campaign Thursday, citing that most of its workers are paid $9.25-$12.45 per hour.

The current three-year contract is set to expire July 31.

Councilman Scott Benson said that while supporting the SEIU’s goal, the resolution will help ensure “that workers citywide also receive the benefits of the resurgence of the city as whole.”

SEIU says a path to at least a $15-per-hour wage will allow workers to better support their families.

“We all need the opportunity to share in the prosperity from Detroit’s ‘rebirth,’ not just the wealthy owners,” Daniel Bell, a member of SEIU Local 1 and janitor at Chase Tower, said in a statement. “Making sure all Detroiters make at least $15 per hour and have union rights is a good start. These developments are built with our tax dollars — $15 per hour and union rights is the least they could do in return.”

The resolution was put forth by council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield, who said at Tuesday’s meeting that it will “make sure we hold developers accountable as it relates to better pay for our workers in downtown Detroit.”

Council President Brenda Jones said it is “unacceptable” that Detroit’s poverty rate is 36 percent compared to the national poverty rate of 14 percent.