Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Raise Up Massachusetts initiatives advance
By Scott McLennan and Jean Conley
Acrowd of activists gathered on Beacon Hill in early December to celebrate another step forward for Raise Up Massachusetts
— the collection of 274,652 signatures on initiative
petitions seeking a higher minimum wage and paid
family and medical leave.
As a band played, representatives from the many
organizations that had volunteered to collect the
signatures assembled outside the Secretary of the
Commonwealth’s office before the boxes of petitions
were turned in.
Petitions seeking to raise the minimum wage
incrementally to $15 per hour by 2022 drew 139,055
signatures, while petitions to establish paid family
and medical leave for all workers garnered a total of
Since then, the secretary has accepted well in
excess of the 64,750 signatures required by law for
each initiative to move both to the next step in the
The signature drives by Raise Up — which
includes labor, community and religious groups
— are just the latest among a number of vital
campaigns the coalition has conducted over the last
few years to improve the lives of working families
in Massachusetts. The MTA is a key member of the
group, and public educators played an active role in
circulating the petitions, as they did in the campaign
for the Fair Share Amendment, which would raise
taxes on annual income over $1 million and will be
on the ballot in November.
“These initiatives support Massachusetts
families and will improve the lives of countless
students in our public schools, which is why MTA
educators are joining the fight to raise the minimum
wage and to make paid family and medical leave
available to more workers,” said MTA President
The paid leave and minimum wage signature
campaigns are part of a two-pronged effort by the
coalition, which is also supporting bills that would
satisfy the criteria outlined in the ballot initiatives.
Two measures currently before the Legislature
— House 2365 and Senate 1004 — would increase
the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021.
Two other bills backed by Raise Up, House 2172
and Senate 1048, would make employees eligible for
job-protected paid leave so they could recover from
a serious illness or injury, care for a seriously ill or
injured family member, or care for a new child.
The Legislature has until the end of June to
enact the laws. If lawmakers do not pass legislation
by then, Raise Up Massachusetts will gather a
second round of signatures by mid-June to qualify
the initiatives for the 2018 ballot.
Last year, the Fair Share Amendment won
a spot on the 2018 Massachusetts ballot after
legislators passed it in two successive constitutional
conventions. The amendment would create an
additional tax of 4 percentage points on annual
income over $1 million, generating roughly
$2 billion annually for public education and
The constitutionality of the proposed
amendment is being challenged in the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court, but Raise Up Massachusetts
has said it feels confident that the ballot question will
survive the legal proceeding and reach the ballot.
Petitions seeking to raise the
minimum wage incrementally
to $15 per hour by 2022 drew
139,055 signatures, while
petitions to establish paid family
and medical leave for all workers
garnered a total of 135,597.
Supporters of a higher minimum wage and paid family and medical leave for all workers held
a festive gathering before submitting signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth to get
initiatives promoting those issues on the ballot this November.
Photo by Scott McLennan