November 20 Is Deadline for Minimum Wage Petitions

November 20 is the deadline for a coalition of labor, religious and community groups to submit 200,000 signatures on petitions that would let Massachusetts voters decide whether the state’s minimum wage should stay the same or increase, and whether workers should have the right to miss work when they’re sick. The group, Raise Up Massachusetts, filed the two proposed ballot questions with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office this summer. It has the support of both the state’s U.S. senators. The group can be reached via www.MassUniting.org.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is the lead petitioner for the minimum wage question. Senator Edward Markey is the lead petitioner for legislation that will provide earned sick time to all Massachusetts workers.

“It is essential that workers have job security when they need to take time off to deal with an illness,” Markey said. “Providing an earned sick-time policy for all workers, in addition to raising the state’s minimum wage, will benefit Massachusetts as a whole.”

One million people in the Massachusetts – almost one-third of all workers in the state – are at risk of losing their jobs if they have to stay home to care for themselves or for a sick family member. Studies have shown that providing earned sick time also benefits businesses by reducing employee turnover and lost productivity, said Katy Gall of www.MassUniting.org.

“There have been days I’ve had to go to work sick just so I wouldn’t lose my job,” said Lisa Ive, a personal care attendant from the Massachusetts town of Randolph. “No one should be punished because they are sick, and earned sick time should be available to everyone. We’re asking the voters of Massachusetts to side with us and make this reality.”

“The current minimum wage just isn’t enough to make ends meet for working individuals and families in Massachusetts, and there are people, like me, who face an everyday struggle to pay their bills and put food on their table,” said Jussara Dossantos, a fast food worker from Boston.

Raise Up Massachusetts and Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org are working on gathering 200,000 signatures to place these two measures before Massachusetts voters.

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