Legislative Proposal to Raise the Minimum Wage Announced

The Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Massachusetts State Senate announced a legislative proposal to raise the minimum wage; create a framework for paid family and medical leave for most workers; phase out time-and-a-half pay on Sundays; and establish a permanent sales tax holiday.

The legislation is based on months of negotiations with stakeholders sponsoring proposed ballot questions for the November 2018 election. It is scheduled to come to the House and Senate floors on Wednesday.

“This compromise strikes the right balance of empowering employees, supporting our hardworking residents and ensuring that businesses can continue to provide good, steady jobs,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I sincerely thank the stakeholders who came to the table and the legislators who brokered this compromise.”

“This compromise is designed to benefit working families, support businesses across the Commonwealth, and grow our economy,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I commend the work done by the stakeholders and legislators throughout this process.”

“Since I was elected I have been fighting to secure a $15 Minimum Wage and Paid Family and Medical Leave. With this bill, we have made great strides toward achieving these goals,” said Representative Adrian Madaro (D-East Boston). “I am proud to see the passage of these critical provisions, guaranteeing that workers across Massachusetts receive both a living wage and the support they deserve to care for themselves and their families.

Among other initiatives, this legislative proposal does the following:

  • Creates a permanent sales tax holiday, beginning in 2019;
  • Increases the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next five years;
  • Increases the tip wage to $6.75 over the next five years;
  • Phases out premium pay on Sundays and holidays over the next five years;
  • Establishes a Department of Family and Medical Leave within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development;
  • Creates a framework for family leave of 12 weeks; family leave for the care of a service member of 26 weeks; and medical leave for up to 20 weeks; and
  • Exempts small businesses from financial contribution to the paid family and medical leave fund.

The proposal leaves the sales tax unchanged, and does not impose a teen sub-minimum wage.

“This balanced legislative package reflects numerous discussions and give and take between a variety of ideological and professional perspectives,” said House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy). “Above all it is the product of compromise, one which will help the workers, businesses and people of the Commonwealth.”

“After fighting for paid family and medical leave for over a decade, I am thrilled to see paid leave included in this proposal, because no one should ever have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or their families members,” stated Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  “Today, the Senate is making an important statement that we support our workers and businesses, as paid family leave programs benefit both employees and employers in terms of improved productivity, job security and economic mobility, and health outcomes. I look forward to seeing this proposal signed into law.”

“This compromise is the result of months of constructive meetings and collaboration in an effort to support working families and small businesses,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “It is also a reflection of the Legislature’s ability to bring stakeholders together, reach compromises, and recognize how vital these two core communities are to our Commonwealth.”

“I’m pleased that this compromise will lift up working families in the Commonwealth, with a $15 minimum wage and a strong paid family and medical leave program, said Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “At the same time, the legislation balances the concerns of employers, particularly small businesses that form the backbone of our Main Streets. I greatly appreciate the hard work and spirit of collaboration that all the stakeholders have exhibited through this process.”

“I am pleased to put forward this bill which empowers workers, recognizes the needs of business owners, and ensures that Massachusetts residents will no longer have to choose between caring for a sick relative or losing their job,” said Representative Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose). “This bill is the result of months of negotiations and demonstrates that regardless of what happens in Washington, here in Massachusetts we focus on cooperation and compromise.”

“This deal represents a series of compromises made in the best interest of the Commonwealth. By reaching a thoughtful balance, this package will protect Massachusetts workers while promoting a competitive environment for our local businesses,” said Representative Joseph F. Wagner (D-Chicopee), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.

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