BOSTON – Senator Brian A. Joyce has filed a bill for the 189th legislative session that would require employers who receive at least $100,000 worth of state assistance to pay their employees a living wage. The language is similar to an amendment Joyce proposed to the minimum wage hike last year.
“When taxpayers are making a significant investment in a corporation, those investments should reach the employees doing the work,” said Joyce. “It is unacceptable for a company to receive significant public investment while their employees look to the Commonwealth to help cover the basic living expenses when their paychecks fall short. The state should not be investing taxpayer dollars in businesses that are widening our state’s sizable income disparity.”
The living wage would be at least $13.89 per hour beginning in 2016 and climb at least $15 per hour beginning in 2019. Thereafter the wage would be adjusted to inflation. The bill would not affect collective bargaining agreements and employers would be barred from funding the increased wage by reducing the health insurance, pension, vacation, or other non-wage benefits of any of its employees.
Currently, Massachusetts has the fourth worst income equality in the country with the lowest income households in Massachusetts, those making less than $21,000 a year, paying 9.5 percent toward state and local taxes while those in the top 1 percent, those making $700,000 or more, are paying just 6 percent. In 1970, households in the 90th percentile had incomes about five times larger than households in the 20th percentile. By 2010, that disparity had grown to eight times larger.