Mass IWJ is a coalition member of Raise UP MA, a grassroots coalition of community organizations, religious groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that works for all of us. For the past three years, Mass. IWJ has collected signatures, hosted phone banks, participated in Legislative Forums, and worked creatively and tirelessly in partnership with Raise Up MA coalition members to support three issues of critical importance to working families in Massachusetts: Increasing the Minimum Wage to $15, Paid Family and Sick Leave, and the Fair Share Amendment.
Update on Increasing the Min. Wage & Paid Family and Medical Leave
On Thursday, July 28th, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law being referred to as the “Grand Bargain” that will increase the minimum wage, require paid family and medical leave for workers, and mandate an annual sales tax holiday, and end time and half on Sunday’s.
The Grand Bargain includes a few things we should truly celebrate, including a progressive Paid Family and Medical Leave program that provides more job-protected leave than any other state provides (12 weeks of family leave, 20 weeks of personal medical leave, and 26 weeks for an emergency related to a family member being deployed for military service). The PFML program also includes a wage replacement system that especially helps low-wage workers and the most progressive cost-sharing system of any state paid leave program, with costs split effectively 50-50 between employers and employees.
Additionally, the Grand Bargain includes minimum wage legislation that is certainly a victory for the nearly one million Massachusetts workers who will see their wages go up as the minimum wage gradually increases to $15 an hour by 2023!
These are certainly victories we can attribute to the hard work of Mass IWJ and members of the many other dedicated grassroots coalition groups accomplished to collect 350,000 signatures, make hundreds of phone calls, and show up at the state house time and time again to lobby the legislators and get our collective voices heard!
At the same time, Mass IWJ recognizes that the Grand Bargain hurts some groups of workers, particularly tipped and retail workers. How? Well, in order to avoid the Retailer Association’s ballot question that would have cut the sales tax and reduced state revenues by $1.25 billion, legislators included an elimination of Sunday time-and-a-half pay in the Grand Bargain. This will be a devastating blow to retail and other workers, who depend on the additional Sunday income to pay their bills and support their families. The Grand Bargain also includes a decrease in the percent increase in the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers, going from 60% in the original ballot question to 45%.
Mass. Interfaith Worker Justice vows to stand by tipped and retail workers. We believe we must rejoice in our victories, and use these empowering wins power to propel us forward in the fight for fair wages for ALL workers in Massachusetts.
Update on the Fair Share Amendment
The Fair Share Amendment, otherwise known as the “Millionaire’s Tax, would have invested in quality public schools, affordable higher education, and a reliable transportation system by creating an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above one million dollars. Despite polling results that indicated popular support from the commonwealth, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck the Fair Share Amendment from the November ballot on June 1, 2018.
The SJCs decision has shocked and enraged many. Five judges voted in favor of corporate lobbying groups like Associated Industries of MA and The MA High Technology Council. These organizations are part of the broader corporate efforts to keep workers’ wages low, keep workplaces unsafe, and roll back progressive legislation.
They’re not going to stop preying on us, so we can’t stop fighting. Mass IWJ is working with Raise Up MA coalition partners to create a new strategy to support schools, working families and communities.
The corporate agenda is not working for us. That’s why this November, Mass IWJ is co-sponsoring the People’s Agenda 2018 with MA Jobs with Justice. We will be canvassing, hosting phone banks, doing stand outs, and supporting educational events so that MA gets a YES vote on 1, 2, and 3. We need a YES vote on all 3 to ensure working people feel safe and healthy in their communities.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality. Mass. IWJ endorses the PPC:NCMR and supports them in their critical efforts to illuminate the immoral actions of our current administration and lift up the voices of underserved populations, specifically women, children, and non able-bodied folk.
For more ways to get involved in the Poor People’s Campaign, click here.
Passenger service workers at Boston’s Logan Airport are fighting for improved standards and quality jobs. Right now, there are 1,500 subcontracted airport workers—including aircraft cleaners, baggage handlers, skycaps, wheelchair assistants and ticket agents—who have no voice on the job and are paid poverty wages despite their hard work and the essential services they provide airline passengers.
Mass IWJ stands with airport workers, SEIU 32BJ, and other community organizations in the fight for improved standards including better wages, health insurance, the right to a voice at work without fear and harassment, job stability, and full-time work.
For more information, contact Political Coordinator Dalida Rocha at DRocha@seiu32bj.org.