Mass.: Low-Wage Workers Pushing for Higher Pay

By Diane Cadrain May 14, 2015

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the Massachusetts minimum wage rose to $9 per hour and is scheduled to increase to $10 in January 2016 and $11 in January 2017.

But meanwhile, an activist organization called #WageAction has kicked off the Fight for $15, a campaign demanding higher wages and protesting against wage inequality. Calling its activities the largest ever global mobilization of low-wage workers, the group will focus on the low pay of adjunct professors as well as home care, child care, janitorial, fast food, transportation and retail workers.

According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, increasing the minimum wage to $11 by 2017 will raise the wages of approximately 605,000 workers.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost the U.S. about 500,000 jobs. Many economists believe the impact of $15 an hour would be much larger, the Journal stated.

The Fight for $15 and its allies are also supporting legislation in the Bay State’s General Court that would:

*Provide $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 home care workers (Senate Bill 370).

*Require big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018 (Senate Bill 1024).

Gradually eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers (House Bill 1702).

Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.


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