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A coalition called Raise Up Massachusetts has started started an initiative to put two ballot questions before the voters in November, 2014. This coalition is made up of Jobs with Justice, community groups and many of the labor unions.

One of these would raise the minimum wage in the state in two stages, reaching $10.50/hr in 2016. Now when filing for an initiative, the proposal must be signed by ten registered voters.  It is worth checking out the first signer on the petition:

Elizabeth A. Warren           (street address)          Cambridge
That great progressive champion, the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, has endorsed this proposal, but it won’t be an easy road. A high bar is set for passing laws by ballot initiative, as it should be. 100,000 valid signatures are needed to place this question before the voters in 2014.

This coming Tuesday, October 15, there will be a primary in the Fifth Congressional District to fill the seat vacated by Ed Markey, recently elected to the Senate. Volunteers will be out at many polling places collecting signatures. If you favor this proposal, (and I will discuss some of the merits below), your help is needed.

Speaking of Ed Markey, there is another initiative to provide sick time for many workers who don’t have it now. The first signer on that petition:

Edward J. Markey           (street address)          Malden

In addition to being at the polling places in MA-05, volunteers will be outside some Wal-Marts on Saturday, October 19 for a "day of action":

Despite Walmart's propaganda, we meet Walmart workers every day who are working for less than $9/hour without any paid sick time.  We know that, of all the employers in Massachusetts, the world's largest retailer can afford better for its workers.  That's why we need you to join us in a day of action to send the message to Walmart workers and customers that we all deserve better.

Raise Up Walmart Workers Day of Action

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We'll be visiting Walmart stores around the state, collecting signatures to put a raise in the minimum wage and paid sick days on the Massachusetts ballot in 2014  
(from a Jobs with Justice e-mail.)


I’m well aware of the “cons” of increased wages, that jobs may locate out-of state, that prices may increase, even the libertarian argument that there shouldn't be ANY wage controls. Yes, this needs to be part of a larger strategy for a nationwide increase, support of labor movements abroad, and some degree of worker control over the means of production (as is done in Germany). But that's a diary for another day.

At this point these cons are outweighed by the advantages of what is really a very modest proposal. Consider this: When I started working in 1968, the year Richard Nixon was elected, the minimum wage stood at $1.60/hr. Using the Bureau of labor Statistics’ CPI calculator, that would be $10.75 in today’s dollars.

As was discussed in this thread in this highly-rated diary, there is good evidence that CPI actually understates the impact of inflation. And that’s “unchained CPI”. A chained version would understate it even more. I’m not poor, but I wouldn’t begrudge the very lowest-paid people having ALMOST the same as what I had forty-five years ago just to save a few cents on a can of beans.

Franklin Roosevelt knew that a good way to improve economic conditions was to get more money into the hands of low earners. Hence the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Wagner Act, and others. The additional money would be put to use almost immediately in the form of increased demand for goods and services.

But this is a political website. So let’s look at what this means in a political sense. It has been said many times here that it is more difficult for the progressive movement to turn out their base. Many people are indifferent to voting as they believe it won’t do them much good no matter who wins. They need a  REASON  to vote, and when they do, they will in large part support candidates whose views overlap with their own economic needs (like the aforementioned Warren and Markey). These initiatives give them a reason.

If you are able to provide some help, please go the the Jobs with Justice website: (eastern MA)

In western MA: http://

Raise Up Massachusetts:

Originally posted to brae70 on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 10:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Massachusetts Kosmopolitans, Hellraisers Journal, and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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