Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Educators back initiatives to ensure fairness
By Scott McLennan
M TA members are playing a vital role in campaigns to improve the lives of working families through paid family
and medical leave and a $15-per-hour minimum
wage in Massachusetts.
Educators were among the thousands of
demonstrators in Boston on Labor Day supporting
striking fast food workers, who are attempting to
unionize as well as fight for the higher minimum
wage and paid leave.
Bills now before the Legislature — House 2365
and Senate 1004 — would increase the minimum
wage to $15 an hour by 2021. And they would include
municipal employees, who have not benefited from
previous statutory minimum wage increases.
On a parallel track, Raise Up Massachusetts
is gathering the signatures necessary for initiative
petitions that would add paid leave and the $15
minimum wage to the 2018 ballot. The MTA is a
member of the Raise Up coalition, which has already
succeeded in getting the Fair Share Amendment on
next year’s ballot.
“The MTA is proud to be a member of the
Raise Up coalition,” said MTA President Barbara
Madeloni. “Our members understand the impact
on the children we educate when a family struggles
financially. Increasing the minimum wage and
allowing paid leave for someone to care for a child
or relative are reasonable steps we can take to greatly
The coalition successfully spearheaded a
previous campaign to raise the state’s minimum
hourly wage — now at $11 an hour — and led the
effort to establish earned sick leave for workers.
Madeloni said that preferably the Legislature
will pass the minimum wage bills currently before it.
Because of Proposition 2½ guidelines,
extending an increase in the minimum wage to
public employees via legislation requires either
passage by a two-thirds majority of lawmakers or a
sufficient budget appropriation.
If the measure is placed on the ballot instead
of being resolved at the State House, municipal
employees would still need a bill passed making
them eligible for the higher minimum wage.
Many MTA members who are education support
professionals currently earn less than $15 an hour.
“If the minimum wage does not rise for all,
Massachusetts will be penalizing countless public
employees, including many of our education support
professionals, who deliver vital health, safety and
education services,” Madeloni said.
According to a report by the Massachusetts
Budget and Policy Center, raising the minimum
hourly wage to $15 would benefit close to 1 million
workers, or about 30 percent of the state’s workforce.
Raise Up will seek at least 200,000 signatures
by late November to place the two measures before
voters. After the necessary signatures are gathered,
the Legislature has until June 2018 to act.
Raise Up proposes a Paid Family Leave and
Medical Leave Insurance Program that would cover
up to 16 weeks of job-protected paid leave to care
for an ill or injured family member or a new child
— and up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave for
one’s own serious illness or injury.
The Fair Share Amendment ballot question will
ask voters to approve an additional 4 percent tax on
annual income over $1 million. Projected revenue,
estimated at nearly $2 billion a year, would be used
for public education and transportation needs.
“I look forward to joining my MTA brothers
and sisters and our Raise Up partners in collecting
signatures and doing this crucial work to help
students, families and our communities,” Madeloni
For updates and further information, please visit
raiseupma.org and massteacher.org.
Educators were among the marchers in Boston on Labor Day supporting fast food workers,
who are attempting to unionize as well as fighting for a $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Photo by Scott McLennan