Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > COVID-19 > Chamber Urges Gov. Whitmer to Support Comprehensive Back to Work Strategy

Chamber Urges Gov. Whitmer to Support Comprehensive Back to Work Strategy

June 17, 2021
The Detroit Regional Chamber’s data driven three-legged stool approach to bringing employees back to work hinges on the signature of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  Employers have been clamoring for help in bringing workers back to offices, factory floors, and retail and restaurant locations across Michigan. The Chamber’s strategy based on outreach to members and confirmed by the data in the Michigan Priorities Poll recognizes three key ingredients that Michiganders have said are barriers to returning to work.

  1. Safety

In the Michigan Priorities Poll, the number one factor for Michigander’s not returning to work was safety.  The Chamber crafted House Bills 4224 and 4225 sponsored by Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Twp.) and Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), which would end Michigan’s Worker Safety Tax by exempting PPE purchases during the pandemic from Sales and Use Tax.  These bills passed the Legislature nearly unanimously and await Governor Whitmer’s decision on a signature.

  1. Child care

The Chamber participated in two press conferences this week, offering support for Gov. Whitmer’s plan to spend $1.4 billion of federal dollars to bolster affordability and accessibility of child care across Michigan.  The next day, the Chamber indicated support for a bipartisan package of bills led by Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), making the statutory changes necessary to expand daycare options for parents permanently across Michigan.

  1. Expanding our Workforce

The Michigan Priorities Poll indicated that 4.2% of Michiganders who were working prior to the pandemic are no longer in the labor force (and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits).  The ongoing worker shortage is why the Chamber proposed our 100k by Labor Day Return to Work Incentive which would provide $2,000 signing bonuses for new hires and $1,000 for their employers and $100 vaccine incentives.  The Chamber is encouraged to see Gov. Whitmer’s support for using federal Work Share dollars for a similar program.

Getting Michigan back to work will not be fixed by a silver bullet, but it starts with one step.  Gov. Whitmer ending the Worker Safety Tax, then moving on to daycare and expanding our workforce.  If the political leadership in Lansing can work together to address these critical business needs, Michigan can be back to full strength before we know it.