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August 13, 2014 / needhamgrassroots

Raise Up MA Updates

yeson4Many in the Progressive Needham community have been helping with the Raise Up campaign to put minimum wage and earned sick time on the November ballot. There were a lot of moving parts at the end of the legislative session, but now all has settled and so here’s the story of what happened and where we are going:

Minimum Wage:

Off the Ballot; Legislature’s Compromise

Though we got enough signatures to put the Indexed Minimum Wage on the ballot, the Raise Up MA coalition withdrew the minimum wage question from the ballot when the Legislature passed a compromise bill to raise the minimum wage, splitting the difference between the progressive Senate version and the very flawed House version.

The Legislature’s bill, signed by the Governor, raises the minimum wage to $11 by increments, reaching the full amount in 2017.

However, the wage will NOT be indexed to inflation. This means, as inflation erodes its value over the next 3 years, the $11 will be worth only $10.40 in today’s dollars by the time it ticks up to $11. (Read more about Indexing: progressivemass.com/indexing)

Tipped workers will only get a paltry raise, too, and that tipped wage will continue to be unlinked to the minimum wage. That is, when the minimum needs to be raised again in 5-7 years (having lost lost value to inflation, because it’s not indexed), the tipped wage will not automatically also be raised. (The Raise Up ballot would have tied the tipped wage rate to the minimum wage rate; when the minimum wage goes up, the tipped wage would have also increased).

Legislature does periodically raise the minimum, with much self-congratulation (even though if they’d just index it, workers wouldn’t lose their wages’ value), but the story is different for the tipped wage workers. It had been some 15 years since the last time the tipped wage was raised. It’s currently $2.63/hour.  By 2017, it will be raised to $3.75/hour.

EARNED SICK TIME

Whereas the Legislature enjoys being the heroes who periodically “give a raise” to minimum wage workers (perhaps explaining their reluctance to index the wage?), the sick workers are apparently not as sexy to the Legislature.

In fact, earned sick time routinely is left to languish in committee. The legislature refuses to move on giving workers the right to earn — that is to say, work towards — paid and/or protected time off from work when they are sick or caring for sick relatives.

Because the Legislature has refused to act, earned sick time will appear on the ballot as Question 4. A YES vote will give workers (who’ve been employed by the business for over 3 months) the right to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. These hours cannot be converted to pay, and the maximum paid hours earned would be 40 hours.

What We Can Do

The vote on the ballot questions is on November 4. In September and October, we will need a strong grassroots effort to inform our community about workers’ rights, sick time, and ask for their YES vote on Question 4.

Stay tuned, and let us know if you want to help! needhamgrassroots@massroots.org

 shortlink: http://hmny.me/rumupdate1

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