Needham Letter to Editor: Raise the Minimum Wage — Don’t Cut Unemployment Safety Net
From the Needham Times (Jan. 9, 2014) – The battles for low wage workers and the unemployed are not just NATIONAL issues, but are playing out right here in Massachusetts, and Needham citizens have a role to play.
The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a strong minimum wage bill. I thank Senator Michael Rush for his vote in support (Senator Richard Ross voted against). The question now moves to the lower chamber of the Legislature.
Along with hundreds of Needham voters who signed the recent minimum wage ballot initiative, I urge Rep. Denise Garlick to raise up her voice to Leadership, and insist on a bill that matches the robust Senate legislation to:
1) raise the wage to $11 an hour (where it was, adjusted for inflation, in 1968),
2) ties future increases to inflation (so it doesn’t lose value every year, eliminating the need for periodic dramatic hikes), and
3) pegs the tipped wage to 60% of the minimum wage.
Unfortunately, as happens too frequently on Beacon Hill, the restoration of the minimum wage is being subjected to backroom dealing, to the benefit of monied interests, as opposed to best economic policy. The Speaker of the House has indicated that he will hold a minimum wage increase hostage, unless the legislature agrees to giveaways to the business lobby by cutting Massachusetts unemployment benefits.
Long overdue increases for the low-income minimum wage workers should not be exacted on the backs of the unemployed. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul — and both guys are already completely broke.
I sincerely hope Rep. Garlick will do the right thing: stand up to Leadership and insist that a strong minimum wage bill comes to a vote — without any cuts to unemployment. I ask my fellow Needham residents to communicate with her the same (Email:Denise.Garlick@mahouse.gov, Phone:617-722-2070, Fax:617-626-0197)