Too many workers in Detroit, particularly Black workers, earn very low wages, have few benefits, and experience poor working conditions, leading to a range of problems for workers and the community alike. Detroit’s poverty rate is 35%; its median household income is $16,000 lower for African-American households and $12,000 lower for Hispanic households when compared to white households. Such disparities are in no small part to blame for leaving Black Detroiters 2.5 times as likely as white residents to depend on food banks, and 10 times as likely to have friends or family die from COVID-19.
But there is some good news amid these bleak circumstances: Detroit’s City Council recently voted to approve an innovative approach to supporting the city’s workers. The just-passed Industry Standards Board ordinance, which Mayor Mike Duggan is expected to sign, sets out a process for bringing together representatives of workers, employers, and the public to make recommendations regarding minimum compensation, safety, scheduling stability, and training standards for industries such as fast-food or nursing homes that can help determine the wages and standards for whole sectors of the economy.
The above excerpt was originally published in the Detroit Free Press. See the November 28 print edition for the full article.
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Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project