What’s the Matter with Massachusetts? (thoughts on Beacon Hill, the minimum wage and the grassroots)

Bumped, for the update. It's not over yet. - promoted by david

Updates, 3/27/2014: To no one’s surprise, the House legislation is missing key provisions — no indexing and too low of an increase for tipped workers.

Now the push comes to the Amendments, and the hardball is, apparently, around the INDEXING amendment. We may already know that the Speaker is going to strong arm his delegation to kill it. But who will make a stand and be on record as SUPPORTING this eminently MODERATE policy?

Indexing to min wage is SO moderate, in fact, that ARIZONA –Ari-flipping-Jan-Bewer-Show-Us-Your-Papers-Zona– has already indexed their minimum wage. It’s so moderate that MITT ROMNEY supports it!!

So, we’re up against a deadline. Legislators have until tomorrow, 3/28, 5pm, to add their names as sponsors to Amendments. 

*We* each need to be on record with our State Reps (and, any other Reps with whom we have relationships… perhaps you took a day off to GOTV?) asking them to sponsor an Amendment to INDEX the minimum wage to inflation.

And ask Bill T said on twitter, let’s hear it from the Reps themselves: what possible reason does the Legislature have for NOT supporting indexing?

Progressive Mass has more information and a call reporting tool: progressivemass.com/raiseupcall



Nobody who works full time should live in poverty!

– Senator Elizabeth Warren, Feb. 2

Nobody who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.

–Pres. Obama in Connecticut, with Governor Patrick, Mar. 2014

A bill to increase the minimum wage should also include UI reforms.

–Jim Klocke, Exec VP, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Nov. 2013

Any increase in the minimum wage must be paired with meaningful improvement to our UI system.

– Speaker DeLeo, Jan. 2014

Given the importance of UI reform and a minimum wage increase, we will update both at the same time.

– Speaker DeLeo, Speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Mar. 13, 2014

What’s the matter with Massachusetts? We have such committed, strong and passionate advocates for a just economy — including a  strong minimum wage – in our U.S. Senate and Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, on Beacon Hill, Massachusetts legislative  leadership features triangulators whose primary aim seems to be “Don’t piss off the business lobby” — not, “what is the best economic policy?” or “how can we help the working poor?

Like thousands of other progressive activists, I volunteered and worked hard over the fall to collect signatures to put a strong minimum wage referendum on the ballot. Since hearing of Speaker DeLeo’s deference toward doing the business lobby’s bidding to undermine unemployment insurance, I have organized my community to get phone calls and meet with their state legislators at the State House to push back. Like so many others, I have put in the time, the effort, the heart and the commitment. And because of all of our combined efforts, we have a really strong ballot question for the fall, a solid Senate bill, and an underwhelming proposal from the House leadership.

Ballot Senate DeLeo Current
Increase wage to $10.50/hour $11/hour $10.50/hour $8/hour
Indexed to inflation Yes Yes No No
Tipped wage 60% of min 50% of min $3.75, unlinked to min $2.63, unlinked to min
Combined with “reforms”
to UI
No No Yes n/a


The Speaker’s proposal, as described at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast yesterday, appears to be decidedly improved from what it COULD have been. The most draconian changes to unemployment insurance don’t seem to be part of the proposal (but there’s no actual bill yet); the $10.50 proposal is higher than what the business lobby probably wants (see Hester Prynne for more commentary). This shows that our organized grassroots pressure HAS HAD AN EFFECT, and we need to KEEP IT UP.

But yet…this is Massachusetts! Look at the Speaker’s outline, compared to the ballot question or the Senate’s version. Why should we be grateful just because a bill, proposed by one branch of our representatives, is better than what we feared it would be? Raising the minimum wage is just one, fairly modest step toward ensuring that no one who works lives in poverty. Why is our overwhelmingly Democratic legislature so hung up on one single social justice measure, when so much more needs to be done in Massachusetts?

(for one thing, we OUGHT be talking about how the Massachusetts Legislature is actually a step toward a LIVING WAGE, so that the “Working Poor” isn’t actually a thing any more! For more of what the Legislature could be working on, try here and here)

With the prospect of a significant minimum wage increase becoming law in Massachusetts, our focus now should be holding our State Senators and Representatives accountable to what is best for the state as a whole, and for the principles around which we’ve worked so hard to organize. It’s deeply troubling that just one person can dictate — or seriously weaken — a policy that will have an impact of the lives of over half a million Massachusetts workers.

I urge the Strategerians to step outside of Beacon-Hill-think and remember that literally hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts citizens signed on to an indexed $10.50 minimum wage and a tipped wage at 60%.

For on-the-ground activists and volunteers, inside-the-building compromises, which both sacrifice indexing AND throw tipped workers under the bus, don’t really translate as a “Win”.

There may be some good reasons not to go to the ballot. It will take more time, effort, money and organizing. We — the grassroots progressives — don’t have the same resources or power as the business lobby. It’s tiring. More time on ballot campaigns means less time for electoral races.

But legislation without indexing and with a raw deal for tipped workers risks squandering the good faith and hard work of the grassroots. Without indexing, we’ll just repeat the same old pattern: increase the minimum, watch it lose value, fight for an increase in 6-7 years, and on and on. I don’t want to do this again in 7 years. I want to fix it once and for all.

If the assessment turns out to be ‘we can’t get an indexed $10.50 minimum and 60% tipped wage done this year because the progressive grassroots aren’t powerful enough yet,’ then let’s discuss:

What are we doing to make the grassroots stronger, to build power for the next round?

Are we investing in grassroots organizing for the LONG term wins?

Let’s get this done — but let’s get it done right.


51 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. But the UI stuff is pretty good, right?

    This is a confusing story to follow, and you’ve clearly been following it closer than me, but I remember getting email alerts from a number of orgs talking about really bad UI stuff happening, which seems to be totally beat back, right? So, we’ve actually made a lot of progress, right?

    • I"ll believe it when I see the bill

      Re: the UI attack – Until the bill comes out I am holding off any support for members of the House. If the House bill does not cut the benefit weeks nor increase the number weeks ti be eligible then I celebrate.

    • So confusing.

      Yes, it’s really confusing. People smarter than me on this stuff tell me that the worst/most damaging UI changes DeLeo COULD have proposed don’t seem to be in what he’s proposing–based on his comments to the GB Chamber of Commerce.

      On the other hand, what he DID say, again according to the people smarter than me, wasn’t very specific, either.

      So it seems for now that the worst UI stuff is not there, and that IS progress and a victory attributable to all the grassroots phone calls and delegation visits, etc.

      I give props to all of us for that. But here’s the thing — we shouldn’t merely be grateful that the min wage language ‘does no harm.’

      We have a Democratic SUPERmajority. We should have the best policies that lifts up all of Massachusetts residents and contributes to a thriving statewide economy .

      Why are we fretting over the minimum wage at all? Lift it, index it, tie tipped wages to 60% of it, and then let’s move forward.

      Hey friendly, come to Wellesley next weekend; we’re showing INEQUALITY FOR ALL and we aim to have some brainstorming afterward, with Mac D’Alessandro.

  2. More dishonesty from Mr. DeLeo

    Mr. DeLeo is attempting cast himself as a leader in this issue, when he has been, and continues to be, a reactionary follower.

    If we allow him to do this, then we will have FOREVER linked the minimum wage to the unemployment insurance rate. That is bad economics, bad governance, and TERRIBLE for workers. The effect of “reforming” the unemployment insurance system is to TAKE AWAY MONEY from the unemployed.

    I get that Mr. DeLeo thinks this linkage is a good thing. I think he ought to have the integrity to admit that he is BETRAYING working-class men and women when he does so.

    We need to pass an UNENCUMBERED minimum wage hike. Keep the media and our own characterizations of his anti-worker and pro-business stance FRONT and CENTER.

    • No more crumbs!

      We have a Democratic SUPERmajority. We should have the best policies that lifts up all of Massachusetts residents and contributes to a thriving statewide economy

      And if it’s a supermajority due to the likes of Fallon and DeLeo we can thin the ranks of the detritus and make it a stronger organ, since it’s clearly not functioning properly right now.

      • detritus

        To be clear your talking about replacing the “detritus” (had to look that up) with progressives right? And not our friends from the GOP ;)

        • That depends

          We have 90% of the Senate and 80% of the House. Some “Democrats” in conservative districts are more likely to be replaced by a Republican than by a progressive. If that moves the caucus left and we retain large (perhaps veto-proof?) Democratic majorities, I won’t lose much sleep.

        • I can't think of a better name

          It’s the waste and fungi that latch onto healthy trees and plants sucking the life out of them. Can’t think of a better analogy for the hacks who wreck the integrity and values of our party. As Mark and Fenway pointed out, they just have the D to enjoy the benefits of our brand without believing in it.

  3. I was surprised to read that DeLeo supported a minimum wage hike

    because I’ve generally had such an unfavorable impression of his politics, viewing him as a selfish old-school hack with a vaguely pro-business bent (to get donations from the rich, of course)and little to nothing productive to add on issues of social or economic justice, or even government efficiency.
    Learning that he is merely presenting this as a bait-and-switch to cut unemployment benefits sounds more like the old DeLeo.

    • I don't know anything about

      DeLeo, but there’s a ballot initiative that he can’t deny. There’s overwhelming support for increasing the minimum wage among the electorate.

      Politically, he has to support a minimum wage hike.

      As far as the supermajority is concerned, remember that it contains a lot of people who would be Republicans if they were a real party in Massachusetts.

    • Tipped Employees

      DeLeo’s increases for tipped employees is insulting too. It is currently $2.63 where it has been for more than 15 years and he is proposing to raise it a paltry $1.12 over THREE years!

      I am okay with a lower than regular minimum wage and I think the Senate’s bill is a fair balance (obviously I would prefer more, but politics is about compromise). But such a long timeline for such a small increase after an even longer time is not befitting a state like ours.

      • I'd eliminate the tipped distinction entirely.

        Tips should be seen as extra rewards, not assumed just for doing one’s job.

        • That's how the wacky west rolls

          • Interesting correlation to restaurant quality

            I’m being mostly facetious, but so what — it’s Friday.

            I’d wager that if you drew a similar graph where the colors represented overall restaurant quality, you’d find that:
            Green –> best
            Blue –> moderate
            Orange –> worst

            I know, from first-hand experience, that the restaurants in California are, on average, better than the restaurants in Massachusetts. New York, NY, is of course exceptional, but it’s New York after all.

            • Or just outlaw tipping

              Proud Americans from Mark Twain to Will Rogers called the practice aristocratic and un-American. The days of teenagers, college students and housewives doing it to get some extra money are over. These are full time jobs by full time workers making a livelihood and they deserve a true living wage like the rest of us. Most restaurant owners who voluntarily did the right thing would tell you their restaurants became more efficient, their teams more collaborative, and their customers appreciate it.

              • How do you outlaw it?

                I can see saying all tips go into a common pool for equitable distribution, but if a customer really wants to leave something extra I’m not sure how you stop it.

              • Not needed

                I’ve eaten in restaurants in California (SF and the Bay area). I’ve eaten in restaurants in NYC, and I’ve eaten in restaurants in Boston. I always leave a 20% tip (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve felt compelled to leave less).

                I don’t think any new laws are needed. I don’t think restaurants need to change anything in “the front”. I think servers need to get paid more. I think competent owners and managers can deal with that. I think restaurants operated by incompetent owners and managers will fail anyway.

                Call me cynical, but I think most of the bitching is coming from large corporate chains who have always cared more about their own profit than about their employees, their customers, or the experience they deliver to their customers.

                I think we should simply eliminate the “tipped” minimum wage altogether and ignore the bitching.

                • I think we should simply eliminate the “tipped” minimum wage altogether and ignore the bitching.

                  That would require the law to change. But otherwise I totally agree with you, particularly about corporate chains skimping out on this, though it’s not uncommon for mom and pop to cheat either (great example was the Andros Diner on the Belmont/Watertown line, my folks and I loved going there for seafood, steak tips, and breakfast and apparently they were tax cheats and check kiters for years).

                  • Bitching and cheating

                    You’re absolutely right about mom-and-pop stores often cheating their servers, bussers, and cooks if they can. I’m just saying that they’re less likely to complain on the editorial pages of the Globe about having to pay minimum wage.

                    I think every worker, including restaurant workers, should receive at least the minimum wage. Mom and pop will figure something out.

      • In fact

        I’ve recently seen data showing that the average tipped worker in MA makes about $9 an hour. With this increase of about $1 in the base wage, that might go to about $10 an hour, meaning below the regular MW.

        Heck of a job, Brownie.

      • California has no such thing as a tipped wage… Restaurant workers get the minimum, plus tips. Food service is really exhausting, tough work. $3.75 is ridiculous.

  4. My state Senator...

    …voted against minimum wage increases and told me she thought the proposals were too much too soon. She is chair of Small Business and said she was hearing their concerns, but I wonder how that sqaures with a recent poll showing small business owners favor a wage hike.

  5. Some Follow Up info/comments

    As noted earlier, this story is confusing and has lots of “If this, then maybe that, or that…” permutations to it.

    There are lots of nuanced, and important, questions that are still unfolding (What will DeLeo’s actual legislation actually say? Will he be moveable on tipped wages? Will he be moveable on indexing?)

    But the biggest question for me is — what is the compromise we can live with, and where is the point where we say, “Screw this crappy legislation, we’re taking it to the voters”?

    That question must be answered by the coalition of advocates (none of us has the resources or reach to do a successful ballot campaign without that organizational support).

    Factoring into that decision will be conversations with Legislators. What concessions will the advocates be able to get to move the legislation closer to the ballot language?

    And what is the capacity of the people of the ground to wage the ballot campaign (lots of time, lots of work)? Are the finances in place to make sure it’s successful (paid organizers, materials, ads?, etc)?

    Legislators, all up for re-election this year, probably don’t want the volunteers to be distracted by a ballot campaign. And let’s face it, they don’t like ballot campaigns, b/c they believe passing legislation is their job (which it is…ballot campaigns are, IMO, for when we see the Legislature refusing to take action…like with the minimum wage (and earned sick time)).

    I’d say that there are compelling institutional reasons to want to see this thing settled by the Legislature.

    And that’s fine with me… IF the legislation is GOOD legislation.

    And I’m not so sure that it will be. What is the will of our rank and file House members to push the Leadership to:

    1) INDEX the wage — the thing that will guard the working poor’s purchasing power, and obviate needing to do this again in 7 years (I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN IN 7 YEARS)

    2) LINK tipped wages to the minimum — at a high enough rate (if 60% is the goal, is 50% adequate compromise? Or is it too low?)

    3) Keep damaging UI cuts out of it

    I’d love to be wrong, but I suspect that there’s little inherently different about this issue that would change rank/file’s general obeisance and fealty to the wishes of Leadership.

    So, again, I will continue to urge my legislators to become more than passive votes for Leadership’s bill, to instead become ADVOCATES for the best policy, and I will continue to organize my community to do the same.

    My personal feeling is that, as a community of advocates, we should not accept a package without indexing, even if the tipped wage rate is increased.

    In the end it will come down to political will, advocates’ tenacity and power. I hope that the grassroots have enough power to see this thru:
    - Strong minimum wage ($10.50+)
    - Indexed to inflation
    - With tipped wages at 60%
    - And no cuts to UI

    And maybe we don’t have the bandwidth or organizational power yet to pull this off. But I hope that we are all very clear-eyed about what is at stake, where we tactically concede or fight. No pigs with lipstick.

    • No linkage to UI AT ALL

      I think it’s important that there be NO LINKAGE AT ALL to Unemployment Insurance. In my view, ANY provision linking the two makes the ballot question the only viable alternative.

      Here, for reference, is the text of the ballot question.

      Mr. DeLeo is running for his political life, he knows that this petition is going to pass.

      • On principle I agree with you

        I think that that ship has sailed, but I could be wrong.
        My understanding (again, there are smarter people who actually understand this…) is that there are some fairly neutral and even positive changes to be made.

        I guess, when push comes to shove, I’m personally OK with DeLeo bowing to the biz lobby if it’s with generally neutral changes.

        I totally agree that there’s no actual policy reason to link UI and Min Wage. DeLeo asserts that it’s a zero sum game, that if he “gives” to Working People with an increased minimum wage, he will have to “balance” it by giving “back” to business.

        It’s not a zero-sum game. And linking the two doesn’t do us any long-term favors in trying to dismantle that anti-worker notion.

        I guess, just reading the tea leaves, it seems like we’re not going to see ANYthing out of the House unless there is this UI piece.

        Maybe you can convince me… if there’s generally neutral UI changes, do you still think we (the general progressive ‘we’) should advocate to reject the legislative path and go to the ballot?

        • It's not that simple

          The ballot question covers only what it covers. I would have preferred that the House treat the issues of MW and UI separately, but it seems highly likely that the legislature will make changes to both the MW and UI. In addition to the Speaker’s repeated public statements on this, the Senate already has passed a UI bill (separately, as the House should have done).

          If the House passes a bill that raises the MW and also changes UI, the question will be how the UI provisions differ from what the Senate’s already done. My guess is that the conference committee would reconcile the House bill with the two separate Senate bills (MW and UI).

          Although we could still go to the ballot if the MW bill that comes out of the legislature, in the end, differs in any way from the ballot question, that would not change in any way what they do on UI. It would only change the MW provisions to match those in the ballot question. The only way to affect the UI changes is to monitor the language and lobby the legislature during the amendment period and the conference committee period.

          • Eliminate the linkage

            I think the best outcome is NO ACTION on MW from the House, the ballot initiative passing, and the UI question decided independently.

            I am most concerned about the long-term consequences of linking UI and minimum wage. I think it’s important that future legislatures be able to adjust each — independently.

            Another consequence of the approach I propose is that it breaks the back of the lever Mr. DeLeo has chosen. The worst that can happen is that the House does nothing on either MW or UI … and that’s the BEST outcome, given the ballot initiative.

            • Nothing we can do about that

              Activists have told the House members they’d prefer no bill at all to a House MW bill that makes bad changes to UI. But if a bill comes to the floor it’s not at all clear activists have the clout at this point to defeat it. If the action taken on MW isn’t good enough, the option to pursue the ballot initiative remains, but I don’t think we’d be able to block UI changes by telling the House to scuttle the whole thing. For the moment the members remain more responsive to leadership than to grassroots activists.

              A clarification about “linking”: it means only that the two issues are being addressed in the same bill. There is no linkage in the sense that UI formulas would be a function of the minimum wage. Thus nothing stops future legislatures from adjusting each independently. Linking of the sort I think you were suggesting we certainly would object to much more loudly.

    • Furthermore ...

      I think it’s time to start reminding both Mr. DeLeo and those representatives who display the “rank/file’s general obeisance and fealty to the wishes of leadership” that Massachusetts voters have “wishes of leadership” as well — and the ability to mount primary challenges.

      As I’ve observed before, I’d rather have some very active Democratic primary campaigns — and even lose some seats — if we can end up with a “Democratic” legislature that truly represents the will of Massachusetts Democrats.

      A 65-35 split, with that 65% being real Democrats, is far better for Massachusetts than what we have now.

      • Brother, preach.

        Right. Right. My comments are more in the vein of “this is the Legislature we Have, not the Legislature we wish to have.”

        Many times I have observed/felt that Legislators’ regard “Leadership” as their true constituency — doesn’t matter how organized, persistent, loud, prepared, numerous the grassroots are.

        Furthermore, it is too easy for Legislature to fake it with ‘rank and file’ VOTERS. They can say they cosponsored something or “voted for the minimum wage increase” … which sounds great! But if you voted for a “minimum wage increase” which generally sucked compared to what it should have been, the average voter isn’t going to even know to ask about that, let alone have the wherewithal to dive into on his/her own.


      • It's gotta start somewhere

        And somewhere appears to be Malden-here is hoping others come to pass.

  6. What's "meaningful" UI reform?

    As he says in the quote at the start of Harmony’s post, the Speaker wants “meaningful” UI reform.

    Of the three examples of reform he offered in his speech, only one would come at the expense of UI claimants, and that one would apply only to municipal employees, a very small fraction of the labor market. It’s pretty clear from the reaction of the employer community that Speaker’s proposal from yesterday doesn’t necessarily qualify as “meaningful” reform.

    What does qualify as meaningful are changes to the UI system that come at the expense of UI claimants. Or as Retailers Association President Jon Hurst (who was also unsure how to interpret the Speaker’s comments on UI) put it to State House News, “I want to see if there’s something that would give organized labor some pause and concern.”

    If you want to try to read the Speaker’s tea leaves yourself, they are here.

    • The quote

      about “meaningful” reform is from January. Perhaps he’s found little appetite for the RA’s wish list in the House.

      I recall reading that the business groups, though not completely satisfied with the Senate UI bill, thought it contained several important provisions. Maybe they think – though your blog has debunked the idea – that the changes cited above are meaningful.

      Do you have a take on the tiered system? I recalled being shocked that the top rate in the Senate bill would be about 15 times higher than the lowest rate for “infrequent” users.

      • I do think the Senate changes are meaningful

        and I agree with you that some business groups also approve of them.

        As you say, the Senate would largely solve the problem of UI underfunding by reallocating the burdens among employers, according to how often their employees file UI claims. Right now, the table that determines the rates has a variation from the best to the worst employers of about 10 X. In the new Senate table, the variation from best to worst is closer to 15 X.

        The RA President has also said that “employers and employees alike” game the system. So it makes sense to me to restructure the table so that the employers of “frequent flier” employees no longer have such an incentive to do that.

        My use of the word “meaningful” in the comment before and in my post was from the perspective of employers who think that a system that is less generous to claimants is what is necessary to attract more business to the state.

        • Thanks

          very much for your response. I understood your use of “meaningful” to mean reducing costs to employers by a somewhat significant amount. That’s almost the same as a system less generous to claimaints but not quite. If a reform could benefit the employers they represent without harming claimants, I presume the RA would not oppose it.

          Which gets us to the rate tables. I’m far less surprised to see a 15/1 ratio on the proposed new tables knowing that a 10/1 ratio already exists. I don’t think I know enough about this issue to have a strong position on the change. My concern is that the new tables would impact smaller businesses and unionized building trades companies to the benefit of larger and non-union businesses.

          • A system less generous to claimants

            appears to be an end in itself, unfortunately.

            There’s a race to the bottom going on nationwide, with states cutting weeks of eligibility, maximum benefit amounts, etc. North Carolina is leading the parade, cutting the number of weeks to 19 and the maximum amount to $350 per week (not to mention rejecting federally-funded extended UI last year).

            So for some business interests, the point is not just to reduce employer costs but also to bring Massachusetts in line with this trend in order to advertise the state’s “competitiveness.”

            • Reframing the UI convo

              The “competitiveness” theme is seductive to lawmakers, I’m sure.

              There needs to be a pushback (broadly, generally), which I think IS happening, with convos of “inequality” and so on, where we frame safety net systems like Unemployment Insurance as part of what keeps our economy stable and afloat.

              An state (and a state’s economy) where the unemployed don’t risk falling over the cliff as easily = a more stable economy, right?

              Shouldn’t stability — and not having scores of residents on the brink of financial insecurity, and the loss of consumer spending, plus the increase in OTHER safety net spending, that goes with that — be part of being competitive?

            • That's just silly

              and mean. I could see why they’d prefer a system into which they pay less. I think they can well afford to pay what they’re paying right now, but it’s not surprising to see someone lobby to pay less.

              But the idea that claimants have to receive less makes little sense at all to me, unless you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid that people want to ride the UI gravy train forever and life must be made less “cushy” for them. That’s just silly with a max benefit that pays the equivalent of under $35,000 a year, which is only paid to those coming out of much higher-paying work. And it’s not like 30 weeks vs. 26 will have a major impact on anyone’s life choices.

              This makes sense only if you understand “competitiveness” to mean leaving people with so little a safety net that they’ll jump at the chance to work even in crappy low-wage jobs outside their fields. That is emphatically NOT the model Massachusetts should be following. I have no desire to be Arkansas.

    • Thanks Hester

      It’s a small w ‘win’ that DeLeo’s made the business lobbyists a little unhappy. We should pat ourselves on the back for that — but not let DeLeo off the hook.

      Tipped wages at 60%
      and no UI reforms that come at the expense of claimants
      (I’m learning the words!)

  7. Great diary...why not the ballot?

    An excellent post and a really great discussion. We should be proud of what we’ve accomplished via the RaiseUp coalition but we need to keep pushing.

    I certainly don’t claim to be an expert but there’s part of me that actually really wants to see MW and sick time go to the ballot in the fall…for a whole host of reasons. As harmony mentioned, we all worked amazingly hard to gather over 250,000 signatures – and I would hate to see that effort got to waste in a way. I don’t pretend that going to the ballot would be easy, far from it, but it could also pay dividends to us as progressives, to the working poor obviously, and also to progressives and real Democrats on the ballot this fall – by boosting turnout among our coalition.

    Claire McCaskill is arguably a US Senator because MW was on the ballot in Missouri when she first ran. Similar ballot initiatives in other states have driven up voting numbers for our base in the past. I can’t imagine Massachusetts is that different. Considering all the races that will be on the ballot this fall, also having MW and sick leave on the ballot with all our candidates might not hurt them but help them, while potentially bringing a lot of new voters go the polls because they are excited about MW and sick leave especially.


    • Well

      I agree it brings out mostly Democratic voters who otherwise might not vote. At least it seems clear the sick leave question will be on the ballot. It’s not as easy an issue as MW to understand, but people who’d benefit will be more likely to turn out.

      And MW may be on the ballot if the legislature doens’t pass something good enough. Still, it would be nice if the legislature did its job.

  8. The Irony of UI changes

    Working as I have in retail/hospitality, I sense that the costs those industries pay in the form of higher UI rates is due to employees that they deem undeserving of the benefit. Having worked with a lot of horrible coworkers, who probably qualified for unemployment, I do not think they have a bad argument.

    However, I think the problem with their approach is that it hurts far too many for the sake of penalizing a deserving few. The answer of course would be for the companies to actually have rational policies and enforce them properly. You can then discharge employees that do not follow the policy and be less likely to face a cost because of it. Instead, many companies issue ivory tower edicts from corporate about how to do a business and do little to ensure managers who are really only a step above the employees make the decisions that will ensure the outcomes the company wants.

    The result is a lot of discharges, suits and claims that lack any coherency and, when dumped in the unemployment commissions lap, leave a pool of claimants from which it is impossible to separate the deserving from the not. Business may be claiming this is a problem and putting unnecessary costs on them and maybe it is (I don’t know), but I don’t see them doing anything in their shop to fix it. Instead, they are trying to use the arms of government to do it.


  9. Updates... No surprises, so next phase: amendments

    Some shenanigans, covered by Hester Prynne…

    And after today, the work shifts to pushing legislators onto AMENDMENT co-sponsorships.

  10. It's like they're daring us to take it to the ballot.

    Thanks for the Bump for the updates in the OP.

    heading over to the Needham Dem Town Committee meeting tonight and if my Rep is there, I plan to not just ask but really talk turkey.
    WTF is going on???
    Why are we having trouble passing this extremely minimal policy?

    Min wage without indexing and with inadequate tipped raises is literally the least we can do.

    Some serious cognitive dissonance living in MA.

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