An Update and Dates for 2nd Round of Petition Gathering

4/8/14   Since my last entry Progressive Newton followed closely as the House of Representatives inched toward passing a minimum wage bill. On March 26, two of us went to Beacon Hill for the Raise Up Massachusetts lobbying day. We were inspired to see the fired-up-and-ready crowd of almost 500 people packed into the Church on the Hill before we headed across the street to visit Representatives Ruth Balser, Kay Khan, and John Lawn.

Two days later, a number of us in Newton urged our representatives to support Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier’s amendment to improve the tipped minimum wage provisions in the House bill. We were excited to see all three of our representatives among the 40 the Raise Up Mass. coalition persuaded to co-sponsor the amendment. Unfortunately, during floor debate on April 2 that amendment and one to index the minimum wage to inflation were withdrawn, seeming unlikely to pass.

But we did get a minimum wage of $10.50 to pass the House, and without the unemployment insurance benefit cuts we’d feared. As the House and Senate wrangle over their dueling bills, we’ll continue to make our voices heard to get the best minimum wage bill possible. And, as a fallback, we’ll be out collecting signatures again between May 10 and June 14 (mark your calendars!) to bring that issue and the earned sick leave initiative to the November ballot.

Newton also sent folks up to the 5th Middlesex Senate district on April 1, where Progressive Massachusetts’s fantastic endorsee, Rep. Jason Lewis, won a special election to replace Katherine Clark in the State Senate. A big win for all of us.

Most recently, on April 6, several of our members attended the Progressive Mass. policy conference in Worcester. It was a great day, hearing from a wide range of inspiring and informative speakers, connecting with committed progressives from across Massachusetts, and asking the gubernatorial candidates tough questions. Everyone involved should be proud.

We’re planning to meet as a group soon to discuss our continued work for Raise Up Mass. and other projects we’d like to tackle. If you’re a progressive in Newton who’d like to help make Massachusetts better, we want you on board! Just contact us at (617) 340-9527 or progressivenewton@gmail.com.

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Showing of “Inequality for All” Draws Crowd in Wellesley

http://storify.com/ProgressNeedham/inequality-for-all-metrowest-screening-with-mac-d

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Progressive Newton has been busy in the early months of 2014! An Update from Robert Fitzpatrick.

Progressive Newton has been busy in the early months of 2014!

Last fall nearly 100 organizations in the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition collected 285,000 signatures statewide to put raising the minimum wage and earned sick time on the 2014 ballot. Progressive Massachusetts volunteers collected over 17,000 of those signatures – over 4,000 by our Newton team!

Thanks to those efforts, the Senate passed a strong minimum wage bill in November. All eyes turned to the House, where Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated he wanted to combine the minimum wage bill with changes to the Commonwealth’s unemployment insurance system. Some of the proposed changes, long sought by business groups, would make it harder to qualify for unemployment or decrease the length of time an unemployed worker could collect benefits. We oppose those changes: you shouldn’t “raise up” low-wage workers by taking from those who have no wages at all.

We’ve met with Rep. Kay Khan, Rep. Ruth Balser, and Rep. John Lawn to remind them of what’s at stake and the challenges faced by minimum-wage workers trying to get by in our expensive state. For several months now we’ve also been holding regular phonebanks to educate voters about the Speaker’s plans. The public has been enormously receptive and our little group has connected dozens of people with their representatives to express this simple message: Raise the minimum wage, leave unemployment alone!

Our efforts are working: this week Speaker DeLeo outlined a House proposal that does not cut unemployment benefits. It’s a lot closer to our position than originally feared, but it’s not quite close enough:

  • Unlike the Senate bill, it does not index the minimum wage to inflation. That means low-wage income workers will see their purchasing power eroded over time, and we’ll have to fight regularly for future minimum wage increases.
  • It raises the minimum wage for tipped workers (which has been a paltry $2.63 since 1999!) to only $3.75, far below the $5.50 in the Senate bill or the $6.30 in our ballot question. With a base wage of $3.75, the average tipped worker in Massachusetts will still earn only $10 an hour – less than the proposed new minimum wage.

In the coming weeks we’ll be making our voices heard again to improve the House bill. And then during conference committee, as the Senate and House merge their two different bills into one. If it’s still not good enough, we’re ready to go to the ballot just as we’re planning to do with the earned sick leave initiative.

As the Raise Up Massachusetts campaign continues, we’re also discussing our next projects, including the important 2014 elections and Progressive Massachusetts’s broader agenda for a fair economy. We’re also excited about the Progressive Massachusetts’ 2nd Annual  Policy Conference. on April 6 and seeing Robert Reich’s film Inequality for All with our friends in Needham and Wellesley on March 22.

If you’re a progressive in Newton who’d like to help make Massachusetts better, we want you on board! Just contact us at (617) 340-9527 or progressivenewton@gmail.com.

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Saturday, March 22nd at 2 pm Robert Reich’s Inequality for All

DID YOU KNOW . . .

MASSACHUSETTS is 8th now 4th in the US in Income Inequality? How did this happen? How can WE change it?

MARCH 22, 2PM, WELLESLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY

WITH METROWEST FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS, 

Watch ROBERT REICH’S acclaimed movie

“INEQUALITY FOR ALL”

After the film, join labor rights activist, community organizer and former candidate for US Congress, Mac D’Alessandro, for a conversation about where we are in Massachusetts — and how to get back on track.

And get the latest from Progressive Massachusetts on the campaign to increase the Massachusetts minimum wage — who’s trying to stop it, who’s dragging their feet — and simple steps that you can take at the local level to make a big impact for over half a million low-wage workers in Massachusetts.

WHEN: March 22, 2014 at 2-5pm

WHERE: Wellesley Public Library, Wakelin Rm. (530 Washington St.)

RSVP: progressivemass.com/ifa

This is a FREE screening!
Donations to help defray the cost
of the event gratefully accepted.

Event Co-Sponsored by Progressive Newton, Progressive Needham, Wellesley Democratic Town Committee, Needham Democratic Town Committee


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Act Now: Don’t Let the State House Cut Unemployment Benefits

We did it. We just heard from the Secretary of State that the minimum wage and earned sick time petitions have the signatures to move forward towards the ballot in 2014.

And right now we need you to do something else. We need you to make a call to ensure that cuts to unemployment benefits don’t go forward with our minimum wage bill.

At the end of November, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage. The House is likely to act on the issue any day now, but corporate lobbyists want to make it so that a minimum wage bill only moves forward if it includes big cuts to unemployment insurance benefits.

While Tea Party Republicans are cutting unemployment benefits in DC, we need to stand up for those who are out of work here in Massachusetts. That’s why we’re asking you to contact your legislators and urge them to oppose any cuts to unemployment insurance benefits.

Click here to learn more and get the tools you need to call your legislators today.

We need you to let your legislator know that you want them to increase the minimum wage, but strongly oppose any benefit cuts that will hurt the unemployed, such as the reduction of the number of weeks of payments, or an increase in the number of work weeks needed to qualify for benefits.

It’s time to raise up all the workers of Massachusetts. We want our representatives to know that if the only legislative path to achieving an increase in the minimum wage is tied to cutting unemployment benefits, we want them to oppose it and let the voters decide in November.

Click here to take action and call your legislator today.

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Why we do it

1473034_508808735884614_1312283293_nWe mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela. We are reminded of his words, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid it is man-made and it can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

As President Obama correctly commented, economic inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” Today there is growing concern over the vast disparities of wealth in the country. More and more men, women, and children are living in poverty or close to the poverty line. They worry about basic needs such as a place to live and food to eat. At the same time, a small percentage of people are living with extraordinary wealth. That inequality did not arise by chance. It was constructed over the years by private greed, yes, but also by public policy.  And change in policy can reverse the trend. There is much that can be done, even at the state level, to make things better.

Progressive Newton mobilized this fall to help the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition put raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing earned sick time on the ballot. We are absolutely committed to continuing our work on economic justice, going forward.

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Celebrate Our First Milestone!!

Celebrate our First Milestone!!

Raise Up Massachusetts Petition Campaign

September – November 2013

 Progressive Newton, Progressive Needham, Middlesex County RaiseUpMA,

& Progressive Massachusetts

Are Happy to Invite You to an Open House and Potluck

Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:00 – 8:00 pm

Children Welcome

RSVP for more information:  progressivenewton@gmail.com or call 617-340-9527

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