Grassroots organizers and the Raise Up MA campaign has been working hard over the last week to make a mediocre House bill better, through the Amendment process (see previous recap).
April 3 Update: Yesterday, the House voted to raise the minimum wage to $10.50. We stopped cuts and restrictions in benefits to UI and we won a number of progressive changes that will make it easier for unemployed workers to get training and protect minimum wage workers against wage theft. And as part of the bill, the House also passed one of the 1st domestic workers bill of rights in the country. However, we did not win on indexing and on tipped workers. We generated nearly 1,000 calls into the House after their proposal was released and our 41 co-sponsors on the tipped wage amendment spoke loud and clear and will strengthen our hand in conference.
AMENDMENTS, ROUND 1
Thanks to your efforts and organizing, Rep. Farley-Bouvier filed a "tipped wage" amendment (#88) to House Bill H3983, and we persuaded 40 other State Reps to sign on as co-sponsors. (is your Rep. one of the co-sponsors? Check here, or see the list at the end of this post)
Co-sponsorship is an important indication of a bill or amendment's support inside the chamber, and as such is also an important metric of its likelihood to pass.
Unfortunately, the House has frustrated our efforts to get meaningful traction on indexing the wage to inflation -- which is a key component of making sure the minimum wage retains its purchasing power over time. (Read more about why Indexing is so important, here: progressivemass.com/indexing)
As of a few days ago, we couldn't even find someone to file an indexing amendment. So we are deeply grateful to Rep. Russell Holmes for stepping up to sponsor an indexing amendment (#50).
But no other Representatives signed on for co-sponsorship before the first round of deadlines on Friday. Unless your Rep. is Rep. Holmes, your State Rep. did NOT sign on to the Indexing Amendment.
IN THE WEEDS
We want to be frank.
The politics of this policy have become complicated and convoluted, and we have had to fight this out over parliamentary and process minutiae. This is all part of the legislative path for passing good policy, and it can be both tremendously opaque, confusing and frustrating for even the most engaged citizen advocate to stay meaningfully informed. And, the field of debate and struggle and advocacy can change from one day to the next.
So, we are incredibly grateful to YOU for sticking with it and making sure that this extremely important policy is hammered out with as much citizen input and sunlight as we can manage. We will attempt to provide as much clarity as we can, and let you know what the most recent and persuasive action is, as it changes.
But while the politics may be complex, the policy is not. The minimum wage was worth $10.50 in 1968, and it should be returned to that level now. It should be indexed to inflation so that it doesn't lose value and retains purchasing power. The tipped employees' wage is too low, and should rise with the minimum wage. That's it.
- Raise the wage
- Index it to inflation to preserve its value, eliminating the need for future dramatic increases
- Set tipped wages to 60% of the minimum
The policy is sound, popular and so uncontroversial that Mitt Romney and Florida (among other states) are ahead of us on minimum wage policy!
As you advocate with your Reps, keep reminding yourself -- and your Rep -- how simple this issue really is.
WHAT'S COMING UP NEXT
Debate on the bill and its amendments will start on Wednesday. As the Amendments of interest come up, we will see which Representatives will stand up for the best minimum wage policy, which means voting YES on increasing the tipped wage, and YES on indexing. We will include any roll call votes on these amendments in our 2013-2014 Scorecard.
Once the bill passes, as expected (with or without the amendments), the bill will move into Conference Committee, six members of the Senate and the House, selected by Leadership, where differences and compromises will be made between the Senate version and the House version. Our efforts to push for indexing and a higher tipped wage will shift to those members.
AMENDMENTS, PART 2 - VOTE YES!
Getting more votes than expected on Indexing and Tipped Wage amendments strengthens our hand in conferencing committee. Now that Amendments are filed, it's time to make sure your elected Representative votes to make the House bill as good as it can be.
So contact your Rep again and with these asks:
- "Indexing is a key part of minimum wage reform.
Will you VOTE YES on Rep. Holmes's Indexing Amendment (#50) on the minimum wage bill (H3983)?"
- "Tipped workers haven't had a raise in 15 years.
Will you VOTE YES on Rep. Farley-Bouvier's Tipped Wage Amendment (#88) on the minimum wage bill (H3983)?"
Let us know what you learn!
*COSPONSORS to REP FARLEY-BOUVIER'S TIPPED WAGE AMENDMENT:
Andrews, Balser, Benson, Brady, Cabral , Calter, Canavan, Cantwell, Cullinane, Cutler, Decker, Devers, Donahue, Fox, Garballey, Hecht, Honan, Kaufman, Keefe, Khan, Lawn, Lewis, Livingstone, Mahoney, Malia, Mark, Miceli, Moran (Frank), O'Day, Provost, Rogers (David), Rogers (John), Sannicandro, Sciortino, Silvia, Smizik, Swan, Toomey, Turner, Vega.
Read the Amendment text here: http://progma.us/tippedamdt
FIND MORE INFORMATION AT OUR MAIN "RAISE UP MA" CAMPAIGN PAGE: progressivemass.com/raiseupma