After months of negotiation, Massachusetts reached a bipartisan deal on Wednesday that provides paid family and medical leave for workers and will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The bill passed the state House 126-25, largely along party lines. The Senate passed it with a 30-8 vote. It is yet to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker; he has 10 days from the bill’s passing to do it.
Experts and advocates applaud the family and medical leave advancement, which gives all workers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, up to 20 weeks for personal medical needs, and 26 weeks for parental leave. Ellen Bravo and Wendy Chun-Hoon, co-directors of Family Values @ Work, said in a statement that this would give nearly 3.1 million new workers access to paid leave.
“More and more business leaders know that offering paid leave is good for the bottom line,” they said. “Increasingly elected officials agree that paid leave is not only good policy, but also good politics.“
And six other states agree. Massachusetts is now the seventh state in the country to pass its own paid leave measures—showing that slowly, but surely, the need for paid leave is being recognized.
The compromise comes, in part, to avoid measures on minimum wage and paid leave from being on the ballot this November. Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community, labor, and faith organizing groups said the organization will withdraw its ballot question on paid family and medical leave if the bill is signed into law.
What will happen around the minimum wage is another story. The bill will gradually raise the state’s rate from $11 to $15 per hour, but would remove overtime pay for workers on Sundays and holidays, and municipal workers are excluded from the increase. Tipped workers also get an increase to $6.75 per hour, but the ballot measure would raise it to $9 per hour.
Masslive reports that Raise Up Massachusetts says they will reflect before making a decision whether to remove the minimum wage ballot measure.