Massachusetts lawmakers hear case for and against raising minimum wage

A ballot petition would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022

BOSTON (WWLP)—Massachusetts could raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour; a move that supporters believe could help workers make ends meet.

Massachusetts minimum wage workers are currently paid $11 an hour. But a ballot question could force the state to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. If passed, you could start seeing the rate increase to $12 an hour by this time next year.

“Workers need a liveable wage for all to support their families. There’s families that survive on low-income checks, the minimum-wage checks,” fast-food worker Darius Cephas, an activist with the “Fight for $15” movement, said.

Workers and advocates with the coalition “Raise Up Massachusetts” showed their support for the petition’s passage at a public hearing before the Labor and Workforce Development Committee Tuesday. The legislature is considering the petition and could decide to pass it before it gets to the ballot.

But the bill is facing opposition from some retailers who fear small businesses will not be able to afford the increased payroll. The Massachusetts Director of the National Federation of Independent Business said Main Street shops may be forced to raise prices, reduce staff or even close their doors.

“Taking money out and increasing labor costs means less money for them to grow, to expand, to hire new workers,” Massachusetts State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business Christopher Carlozzi told 22News.

If the legislature takes no action, the campaign will have to gather more than 10,000 voter signatures to get their question on the ballot. The legislature has until May to act on the initiative petition.