Minimum Wage Increase and Earned Sick Time Proposed for 2014 Ballot

BOSTON – A coalition of labor, religious and community groups have filed two proposed ballot questions with Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office. Joined by Massachusetts’ two U.S. Senators, Raise Up Massachusetts submitted legislation to ensure workers statewide have earned sick time and a higher minimum wage.

Massachusetts law requires ten voters to sign initiative petitions. Senator Elizabeth Warren is the lead petitioner for the minimum wage question. Senator Edward Markey is the lead petitioner for legislation that will provide earned sick time to all Massachusetts workers. Business owners, workers, labor leaders, community leaders, and clergy members also submitted their signatures with each question.

“It is essential that workers have job security when they need to take time off to deal with an illness,” said Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts). “Providing an earned sick-time policy for all workers, in addition to raising the state’s minimum wage, will benefit Massachusetts as a whole.”

One million hard-working people in the Massachusetts – almost one-third of our workforce – are at risk of losing their jobs, and the wages their families need, if they have to stay home to care for themselves or for a sick family member. Studies have shown that providing earned sick time also benefits businesses by reducing employee turnover and lost productivity.

Consumer spending accounts for nearly 70 percent of our national economy. More money in the hands of consumers will help get our economy back on track and will help local businesses prosper.

“There have been days I’ve had to go to work sick just so I wouldn’t lose my job,” said Lisa Ive, a personal care attendant from Randolph. “No one should be punished because they are sick, and earned sick time should be available to everyone. We’re asking the voters of Massachusetts to side with us and make this reality.”

Going hand in hand with the fight to provide workers with earned sick time is the ongoing struggle to raise the state’s minimum wage – which hasn’t seen an increase since 2008.

“The current minimum wage just isn’t enough to make ends meet for working individuals and families in Massachusetts, and there are people, like me, who face an everyday struggle to pay their bills and put food on their table,” said Jussara Dossantos, a fast food worker from Boston.

The Attorney General must approve both questions for the ballot, at which time the Secretary of State will provide the petition forms, which must be signed by supporters by December 4. Raise Up Massachusetts is already gearing up to collect 200,000 signatures to place these two measures before Massachusetts voters.