Minimum Wage Bill Comparisons

House Vote of April 2 – Next Step Conference Committee.  What happened with the House vote on the Minimum Wage bill yesterday? They passed a bill to increase wages to $10.50 over 3 years, but did not pass Indexing to Inflation, and raised tipped worker wages only from 33% to 36% of the minimum wage. No cuts were made to unemployment benefits or eligibility.   Analysis: 1).   We could not have won a vote over the House Speaker’s opposition on the two amendments we supported on tipped wages and indexing. BUT the Senate bill has indexing and tipped wage at 50% of minimum wage plus tips so those two provisions are very much alive to be negotiated between the House and Senate AND us since we control the chance to move this to the ballot. 2).   By the Raise UP MA coalition together getting 41 legislators to co-sponsor the amendment to raise tipped worker wages, we moved forward the chances of that happening in the final bill. 3).   When the prospect of possible cuts to unemployment benefits and eligibility seemed like they might be linked to the minimum wage bill in the House, Raise Up Massachusetts took on that issue too and we were successful in preventing any cuts from being made.   We do want a bill with more progress in tipped worker wages and indexing, BUT at $10.50 an hour, it would be the highest minimum wage level for states in our country so we are on the way to winning.   Our Raise UP Massachusetts coalition of community, labor, and faith based groups has gotten us so far already and we can finish the job in the next 7 months. What’s Next for the 500,000 people now earning $8 to $10.50 an hour and the almost 1 million without earned sick days?

1. We need to collect the second set of signatures required to qualify for the ballot for Minimum Wage and Earned Sick Days between May 10 and June 15. Doing this keeps the pressure on the Legislature to pass a better bill on tipped worker wage increase and on indexing to inflation.  Both House Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray have publicly acknowledged that the ballot proposal was instrumental to them moving legislation on this. 2. We will keep up the pressure on the Legislature to pass a strong Minimum Wage bill during this period from now to July 2 when they can do this. 3. If by July 2, the Legislature has not passed a Minimum Wage bill OR does not pass one our coalition feels is strong enough, then we can file the signatures to put it on the fall ballot. 4. So far the Legislature has shown no interest in passing an Earned Sick Days bill, so collecting the second set of signatures will qualify that for the ballot to give the 1 million people without sick days, 5 days to care for themselves, or their children, or their elderly relatives.         Comparison of Ballot Proposal, Senate Bill, House Bill on Minimum Wage
 1.    Ballot Proposal: Raises wages from $8 to $10.50 over two years. Indexes it to inflation.  Raised tipped workers from 33% of Minimum Wage +  tips to 60% + tips. 
2.    Senate Passed Bill.  Raised wages to $11 an hour over 3 years.  Indexes it to inflation.  Raises tipped wages to 50% of Minimum Wage plus tips.   
3.    House Bill.  Raises wages to $10.50 over 3 years.  NOT indexed to inflation.  Only raises tipped workers wage from 33% to 36% of Minimum Wage + tips.  The House bill included the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and several positive amendments related to unemployment insurance rights and rights of workers related wage payment violations. The Senate addressed unemployment insurance issues in separate bill that did not have these provisions.
 Lew Finfer, Harris Gruman, Deb Fastino, Carl Nilsson on behalf of Raise UP Massachusetts.
Sheila Decter, JALSA


Senator Eldridge is filing these amendments. Please encourage your senator to support them. Please let Erica ( know who you called and any response you received.
   The present bill is not comprehensive to our safety and environmental standards; only gas leaks in Class 1 or Class 2 are addressed, there is no mention of Class 3 gas leaks. This needs to be changed.
The version of the gas leaks bill that emerged today in the Senate (S.2073) was weaker and less comprehensive than the environmental community had hoped. The Senate President has allowed senators to file to amendments up until to noon Friday, March 28.
     To ensure the bill is strong, please encourage your senator to support the amendments that Senator Eldridge is filing.
      Here is a sample script for the call. If you’d like, add in why you are passionate about this issue.   “Hello, My name is (your name), and I live in the senator’s district. I am disappointed with the gas leaks bill that came out today, S.7023. I am calling to encourage Senator (your senator’s name) to support the amendments that Senator Eldridge is proposing so that the bill can be stronger and more comprehensive for improving gas leaks.  Thank you.”
       If you want to get more specific, you can say: “Hello, My name is (your name), and I live in the senator’s district. I am disappointed with the gas leaks bill that came out today, S.7023. I am calling to encourage Senator (your senator’s name) to support the amendments that Senator Eldridge is proposing so that the bill can be stronger and more comprehensive for improving gas leaks. Specifically, the bill needs to address repairing all classes of gas leaks (not just class 1 and 2) to be in accordance with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008. As an environmentalist, I believe these amendments are crucial to include in the passing of this bill. Thank you.”
 A deeper look: What the environmental community is specifically looking for:- Amendments that address the repairing all gas leaks, if they are within 50 feet of a school zone, nursing home, healthcare facility, governmental building or subway/train station;  when road projects are done, and work is already being done to repair some of the gas leaks
   - An amendment to Section 4 of the bill. This section deals with expansion of natural gas line infrastructure (replacing the old with new). This amendment calls for this expansion to be in accordance with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.
 Thank you for all that you do,  Sheila Decter

JALSA Climate Change Meeting

Talk by Frank Smizik (Chair, MA House Committee on Climate Change and President, JALSA) at the JALSA meeting discussing Climate Change.




Reducing Gun Violence Bloomberg Initiative

Former New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg has indicated that he will spend $50 million in grassroots efforts to pass meaningful gun legislation this year.  Moms Demand Action  – one of our Massachusetts coalition members — will be working with Bloomberg  and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group established by Bloomberg and our own Thomas Menino, former mayor of Boston.  The new partnership will be known as Every Town for Gun Safety and will specifically work to elect legislators who have gun violence as one of their top priorities.

Thanks for all you do.  Give a call to our office if you want to be more involved in efforts to reduce gun violence and to pass common sense gun laws.  617-227-3000.  or    Sheila Decter

Gas Leaks bill now no. 3873

To follow the current status see H3873




The version of the bill that emerged in the Senate (S.2073) was weaker and less comprehensive than the environmental community had hoped.  There will be several amendments offered.  To ensure the bill is strong, please encourage your senator to support the amendments that Senator Eldridge and Senator Creem have filed.  Call your senator and these other significant persons this morning:  Your Senator , Call the Switchboard at 617-722-1276 to be connected or look it up at www.wheredoIvotema. or   Senator Steven Brewer, Chairman, Senate Ways and Means,   617-722-1540.  Senator Ben Downing, Chairman, Senate Committee on Telecom, Utilities & Energy  617-722-1625.  Senate President Therese Murray, 617-722-1500,

Suggested Call Script: “Hi, my name is ___ and I am calling in regards to S2073, the gas leaks bill. The vote on this bill is Today and we need a stronger bill. I am concerned about the thousands of gas leaks in Massachusetts because of the damage to our environment, threat to public safety and cost to consumers. I am asking Senator ______ to support changes that increase transparency, ensure more leaks get repaired, and take action on climate change. In particular, I am asking your office to support amendments filed by Senators Eldridge and Creem.    Will Senator ____ work to strengthen this bill?  Thank you for your time.”

Thank you for all that you do,  Sheila Decter

Globe Highlights Low Restaurant Worker Pay

The following appeared on
Headline: Fast food workers deserve a livable wage – The Boston Globe
Date:     Feb 18, 2014.  When challenged on their low wages and lack of benefits, fast-food chains like to depict their workers as teenagers saving for college, who value the hourly receipts as a step toward a better life. All those smiling kids presumably wear their brightly colored smocks and golf visers with the same pride as Marines donning their colors, and are just as happy to serve. But those workers, if they exist, are a distinct minority. They should meet Hope Shaw, the 38-year-old single mother of three who is assistant manager at Dunkin’ Donuts on Boston Street. She, too, likes to serve. But her life is one of unrequited toil. She lives paycheck to paycheck. Her heating gas was shut off last winter for failure to pay; the electric bill for her Dorchester apartment is consistently three months overdue.
The following appeared on Tipping system exacerbates unfairness of restaurant pay – The Boston Globe, Date:     Feb 18, 2014.  Tipping is said to have started in the Roman Empire as a means to reward servants and slaves. Americans, though, adopted the custom only after the Civil War, but and it stuck; diners doled out some $40 billion in gratuities in 2012, according to industry experts. Yet the entrenchment of tipping has given restaurant owners a pretext to Yet, as today’s restaurant owners use tipping as a way to avoid paying their workers a proper wage. The tip system should be uprooted , it may be time to end it — or at least returned it to its roots as a purely voluntary reward for excellent service. Other than restaurants, few other industries are set up to let bosses rely almost entirely on customers’ generosity to set wages. Owners, of course, are happy to save on labor costs, and back when tips were still came mainly in cash, this arrangement probably made sense to workers, too.

 The following appeared on Headline: Service not included: Restaurant industry serves up injustice to workers – The Boston Globe, Date:     Feb 18, 2014. The restaurant industry in the United States is exploding, just as the income gap is widening. The trends are related: While expansion of other industries often leads to higher wages and greater opportunities, growth in the restaurant business does not. Shielded by a powerful lobby and a franchise system that makes union organizing difficult and impractical, it provides the scraps at the bottom of the income ladder. The food service industry is the province of kitchen workers who must enlist government investigators to collect the bare minimum they are required by law; wait staff who earn a punishingly low $2.13 per hour nationally in exchange for tips whose distribution is often controlled by management; and fast-food dispensers whose brand-name outlets openly advise them to apply for food stamps and other government aid to supplement their unlivable wages.

The following appeared on Headline: Fast-food workers need organizers, advocates – The Boston Globe, Date: Feb 20, 2014.   According to the US Department of Labor, less than 2 percent of food service workers are unionized, and it shows. Fast-food employees like King and Guiterrez are put in particular are at a serious disadvantage when demanding better pay and working conditions. Average wages in the sector have remained stagnant at just above the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, for two decades. About 13 percent of fast-food workers have employer-sponsored health benefits, compared to 59 percent of the workforce as a whole. Whether through traditional unions or something else, one of the quickest ways to improving the lot of most restaurant employees would be more organized labor. Larger unions often have trouble making inroads into restaurants because of the small-scale nature of the business, with its mom-and-pop eateries and franchised fast-food outlets. Fortunately, less conventional advocates for workers have stepped in to fill the gap.