Lawmakers hear arguments for $15 minimum wage

The committee will review public testimony on the bill before making recommendations to the state

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A state proposal calls for raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts.

Lawmakers heard from the public on a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Workers say the extra four dollars would go a long way for people struggling to make ends meet.

Minimum wage workers shared their stories with lawmakers on the state’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development of working two to three jobs just to make ends meet. They’re calling on lawmakers to pass a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage from $11 to $15 per hour by 2021.

Darius Cephas from Raise Up Massachusetts told 22News, “We have airport workers here, restaurant workers here. These are all families that need it.”

But some retailers aren’t backing the move with concerns it will impact their profitability.

Ryan Kearney, General Counsel for the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, told 22News, “It creates a competitive disadvantage and eventually, it impacts profitability. Once you start impacting profitability, you’re going to have unintended consequences. That includes wage stagnation, lowering of hiring, sometimes job loss.”

Although some large business groups have come out against the bill, more than 200 Massachusetts business leaders are supporting the minimum wage raise.

“You get a terrific boost in spending, which boosts revenues at businesses,” Holly Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage said. “You get a boost often as you raise wages. You get lower turnover, better customer retention, better worker retention.”

Workers said if the state legislature can’t pass the bill into law, they’ll take it to voters on the 2018 ballot.

The bill still has a long way to go in the process.

The committee will review public testimony on the bill before making recommendations to the state.