Sick Leave Victory!

This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Massachusetts Peace Action newsletter

John Ratliff

John Ratliff

Massachusetts Peace Action and mem­bers of the Budget for All coalition from around the state joined with more than 80 other labor, community, and church groups to win big victories for work­ing families in this year’s legislative session and election. The road to victory was a long one.

In fall 2013, peace activists devoted hours to signature gathering on the petitions to put a higher minimum wage and earned paid sick time on the Massachusetts ballot. Together with others in the Raise Up Massa­chusetts Coalition we collected over 300,000 signatures, a record num­ber.  We then engaged in a people’s lobbying campaigns, and together with RaiseUp defeated efforts by business interests to under­mine unemployment insurance as a quid pro quo for passing a higher mini­mum wage, and also beat back efforts to establish a lower youth minimum wage.  The legislature passed an $11 minimum wage, the highest statewide wage in the country.

The coalition mounted a strong educational effort and get out the vote effort to ensure that the earned sick time provision passed. Peace activists knocked on doors and spent hours on the phone, trying to identify and turn out voters who would support the measure. Over a million Massachusetts workers bene­fited directly when the voters passed the ballot question by a 60% vote on November 4.  The hard work of Raise­­Up overcame an environment hostile to ballot questions (the other three on the ballot all failed) and efforts by some in industry to confuse the question.

Prior to the vote, the Raise Up coalition had determined to reconvene and stay united to continue working on behalf of working people in the Common­wealth. Stay tuned!