To substantially improve the economic circumstances of hundred of thousands of low wage earners throughout the Commonwealth by increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation and requiring that earned sick time be available so that workers are not threatened with loss of income and jobs if they have to stay home.
Massachusetts is one of the most prosperous states in the nation and yet many of our residents live just at or above the poverty line. A recent study by Mass Budget and Policy found that the gap between Massachusetts’s richest and poorest households is the 8th highest in the nation. In large measure this is a function of two factors – our regressive tax system and the erosion of the minimum wage. In 1968, the Massachusetts minimum wage was worth $10.52 (adjusted for inflation). Today, it is $8.00.
While the Massachusetts economy has rebounded more quickly than many other states, the aftermath of the recession is still on display. More and more residents are finding work, yet many of the jobs they are accepting are considered to be “low-wage” positions – those paying close to the Commonwealth’s $8 per hour minimum wage.
At the same time, nearly 1 million hard working people in Massachusetts—almost one-third of our workers—are forced to go to work sick because they can’t risk losing their jobs and the wages their families need. This creates substantial instability and puts many workers a few sick days away from poverty.
Two bills currently before the legislature address these problems and focus on raising up all of Massachusetts because when our lowest paid workers are protected, the entire economy is strengthened and so too is our community.
We are focusing on both because both are needed to add stability to the lives of low income people.
Where We Stand
An amazing number of signatures - over 280,000 - were collected on our two ballot initiatives and we will undoubtedly qualify for the ballot when we submit them to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, December 3. Progressive Massachusetts committed to collecting just under 14,000 signatures but we blew through that target, with your help, and contributed the fourth highest total - nearly 18,000 signatures.
The Senate responded by passing a minimum wage bill at the end of the session - which calls for an $11/hour minimum wage by 2016, indexed to inflation and 50% tipped credit. (Our ballot initiative called for $10.50 by January 2017, indexed to inflation, with 60% tipped credit).
Action awaits in the House whose leadership has voiced opposition to passing a "clean" minimum wage bill - they want to couple help for workers with unemployment insurance reform.
As of today, earned sick time for nearly 1,000,000 workers hasn't even been favorably reported out of committee.
We are organizing phone banks locally to encourage people to call their representative and tell him/her that we want a minimum wage raise WITHOUT cuts to unemployment insurance.
We are organizing delegation visits - constituents like you meeting with their representatives to tell them that we want a minimum wage raise WITHOUT cuts to unemployment insurance.
We have a Hub Dialer running during the day that you can be part of. This enables us to patch through willing callers - straight to their legislator's office.