Supporters of pro-labor initiatives to collect final signatures

Raise Up Massachusetts

The final round of signature collection on behalf of two pro-labor ballot questions begins May 8. MTA members who support a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour, and a second one that would require employers to offer sick leave to employees under certain circumstances, are encouraged to volunteer to help collect signatures by signing up on the Raise Up Massachusetts website.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously last fall to endorse both ballot proposals, which are designed to improve fairness for some of the lowest-paid workers in the Commonwealth.

Raise Up Massachusetts is an umbrella coalition of labor, religious and community groups that is spearheading the effort to get the initiatives on the November 2014 ballot. Supporters gathered a record-breaking 260,000 signatures last fall for both initiatives combined and now have to collect another 11,485 certified signatures for each initiative by June 18.

The sick leave question would require employers to offer earned sick time at the rate of an hour for every 30 hours of work, with a cap at 40 hours. U.S. Senator Edward Markey is the lead petitioner. The second proposal would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage from $8 to $10.50 an hour over the next two years. Future increases after two years would be tied to inflation. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is the lead signer on that initiative.

Raise Up Massachusetts estimates that nearly one million workers in Massachusetts don’t have access to paid time off when the employee or a family member is ill. In June, New York City adopted a measure guaranteeing paid earned sick leave for workers, as have Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and the state of Connecticut.

MTA President Paul Toner called the ballot initiatives vital to the economic health of Massachusetts.

“Too many workers in Massachusetts have gone far too long without the basics of workplace fairness: paid earned sick time and a livable wage,” he said. “Our continued economic progress in Massachusetts, as well as simple decency, demand that workplaces treat their employees in fair and equitable ways.”

More information can be found on the Raise Up Massachusetts website or by e-mailing Gillian Mason at Jobs with Justice, at gillian@massjwj.net.

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