Potential Labor Threats with New Democratic Leadership
A Government Affairs Update
The start of each new legislative session is always an exciting time. The long and rigorous days on the campaign trail finally come to fruition as both legislators and staff begin a new chapter in their lives. As with all changes, a new legislative term brings new challenges along with opportunities. For the first time in 40 years, Michigan’s Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of government are all controlled by Democrats. This change in leadership will not alter the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association’s (MRLA) mission of being the leading voice on behalf of Michigan’s hospitality industry. It may, however, at times adjust our approach to shaping public policy. Here is a look at our top legislative priorities as we approach a new year with new leadership as an industry.
Workforce development will continue to stay at the top of list in our advocacy efforts as the industry remains an estimated 20,000 employees short of 2019 staffing levels. Last year, the MRLA was successful in securing a record $2.5 million in funding for the ProStart
and Hospitality and Tourism Management Programs (HTM). While the ProStart Program trains the future of our hospitality industry, ensuring the survival and longevity of the employees who endured the pandemic and already exist within the hospitality industry remains a top priority. This is why the MRLA founded the Hospitality Training Institute of Michigan (HTIM) with the mission to provide current employees quality training to advance their skills sets, grow operational knowledge and expand necessary attributes to expand their career options in the hospitality industry. The MRLA has already met with several newly elected leaders to advocate for funding to
support foster growth for the HTIM.
The hospitality industry happily accommodates busy students, working parents and those who just want to make some extra money. These diverse groups of people come to our industry for one reason: flexibility. The ability to make your own schedule and pick up extra hours allows many of these individuals to craft their own schedule. New legislation has been introduced that targets one of the hospitality industry’s most appealing factors. If signed, the law would require a schedule be provided to employees 14 days in advance with limited ability to amend the schedule or have employees on call. Work has begun to educate lawmakers on why this practice hinders one of the
greatest benefits of the hospitality industry. Only one other state has been successful in implementing predictive scheduling statewide and the MRLA will continue the fight to ensure that Michigan is not the second.
Labor Council Threats
In addition to predictive scheduling, other new threats arise as the debate over wages in the hospitality industry continues. For those not familiar with the Fast Act, it is a California law that creates a 10-member state council or “Fast Food Council” with wide-ranging authority over fast food and fast casual restaurants. The council could raise the minimum wage to $22 per hour in 2023 and up to 3.5% annually after that. It could also set minimum standards for working conditions, maximum hours worked, security, and more. After approval by the legislature, a lawsuit has temporarily delayed implementation of the California Fast Act. A Michigan version of the Fast Act has not been introduced yet, but with this legislative session still in its infancy, the potential threat is still on the horizon. The MRLA is prepared to
be the leading voice in opposition should similar legislation be introduced in Michigan.
As an industry and at the MRLA, we don’t back down from a challenge. As components of our industry may feel unstable in terms of inflation, supply chain issues, or major changes in our state leadership, the promise the MRLA makes to its members is that it will always be a stabilizing force in our guarantee to be the only voice working on behalf of Michigan’s entire hospitality industry in Lansing. For questions, please contact VP of Government Affairs, John McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org.