Massachusetts minimum wage bill could raise hourly pay to $11/hour

The measure, which won Senate approval last week, would raise the state's $8 per hour minimum wage in three increments to $11 per hour by 2017.

Massachusetts moved closer to instituting the nation's highest minimum wage among states under a billapproved Wednesday by the state House of Representatives.

The measure, which won Senate approval last week, would raise the state's $8 per hour minimum wage in three increments to $11 per hour by 2017. A routine procedural vote is needed in the Senate before the bill is sent to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick for his expected signature.

Future increases in the minimum wage would not be automatically tied to inflation, as an earlier Senate version of the proposal would have done.

"This is a groundbreaking moment for Massachusetts," said state Rep. Thomas Conroy, D-Wayland, during Wednesday's debate.

He said many of the state's estimated 600,000 minimum wage employees live in poverty despite having full-time jobs, while others are forced to work multiple jobs to support their families.

"This will be a huge benefit to them to meet their daily needs and hopefully allow them to grab on to a ladder of opportunity," Conroy said.

The minimum wage would rise to $9 per hour on Jan. 1, 2015; to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016; and finally to $11 on Jan. 1, 2017.

The measure would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, from the current $2.63 per hour to $3.75 per hour, a 31 percent increase and the first since 1999, Conroy said.

Critics of the bill, which passed on a 124-24 vote, said it would hurt small businesses.

"It's too much, too fast, too soon," state House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading, said of the 38 percent increase in the minimum wage.

Republicans had called on lawmakers to consider other ways to help low-income workers, such as boosting the state's earned income tax credit. Jones said if businesses were forced to cut jobs, it would hurt the very workers the bill was intended to help.

"If you're one of those employees who is currently making $8, and you're going to make $11 and not lose your job, (it) sounds like a good deal," he said. "But if you're making $8 and you might be one of those people who loses their job, it sounds like a lousy deal."

Passage of the measure could forestall a drive to put a question before voters calling for a $10.50 per hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation.

The group Raise up Massachusetts called the measure a "positive step," and said it would consider withdrawing its petition once the bill is signed by Patrick. Meanwhile, the group said, it has met a Wednesday deadline for submitting additional signatures to city and town clerks to earn a spot on the November ballot.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.