Coalition lays out agenda for workers in Mass.

In Fight for $15, News, Paid Leave by News Desk

State House News Service:

Labor unions, community groups and workers rights organizations set up shop in the Great Hall on Tuesday morning to draw attention to a raft of bills that constitute a “healthy workplace legislative agenda” that they said will make workplaces safer for all employees.

Among the issues advocates hoped to bend policymakers’ ears on were public employee safety, workplace bullying, protections for pregnant workers, wage theft, paid family and medical leave, using carbon dioxide detectors in public buildings, and a raise in the state’s minimum wage.

Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of unions, community and religious groups and low-wage workers, sought Tuesday to draw attention to their proposals for paid family and medical leave, and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

The coalition, which successfully pushed for the minimum wage increase that took effect earlier this month, said Tuesday it will file legislation this month to boost the wage floor by $1 per year until reaching $15 per hour in 2021. After 2021, the group said, the minimum wage would be adjusted each year based on the cost of living.

“Increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2021 would raise the wages of roughly 947,000 workers, or 29 percent of the state’s workforce. Ninety-one percent of workers who would be affected are over 20 years old, 56 percent are women and 57 percent work full-time,” Raise Up Massachusetts said in a summary of its minimum wage proposal. “Workers who are paid low wages include highly skilled professions, like nursing assistants, childcare providers and paramedics.”

By Colin A. Young