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Monday
Oct212013

10/21/2013- This Halloween “Rosie The Riveter” Takes To The Streets In Western MA In Support Of Earned Paid Sick Time And The Living Wage

For Immediate Release

THIS HALLOWEEN “ROSIE THE RIVETER” TAKES TO THE STREETS IN WESTERN MA IN SUPPORT OF EARNED PAID SICK TIME AND THE LIVING WAGE

Contact: Liz Friedman, MotherWoman Program Director Cell: (413)-658-2341 Office: (413)-387-0703 liz@motherwoman.org

For Photo Op Contact: Jessica Avery, Advocacy and Policy Intern (413)-388-1240 advocacy@motherwoman.org

This Halloween, students, community members, workers and parents will take to the streets dressed as Rosie the Riveter to petition door to door on behalf of the Earned Paid Sick Time and the Living Wage ballot initiatives. MotherWoman, a local non-profit committed to ensuring that all parents have the support they need, is organizing a neighborhood canvass to collect signatures from Amherst, South Hadley, and Northampton residents. MotherWoman is partnering with students at several local colleges on this initiative. Students from UMass, Amherst, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith College are excited to do their part to ensure that these initiatives are on the 2014 ballot.

In August 2013, Raise Up Massachusetts presented two ballot initiatives to the Attorney General’s Office: increasing the minimum wage and providing earned paid sick time. The minimum wage increase initiative would stagger the raise beginning with an increase to $9.25 an hour in 2015 and $10.50 an hour in 2016 as well as raise the wage of tipped employees to $4.15 an hour in 2015 and $6.30 an hour in 2016. For all subsequent years following 2016, the Labor Department would consider the consumer index when examining the necessity of a minimum wage increase. The earned paid sick time initiative would allow workers at companies with more than 11 employees to earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked with a 40-hour cap for the year. Workers at companies with fewer than 11 employees would have earned, unpaid sick time. 

Both ballot initiatives need 200,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot, so Western MA residents and students will be dressing up as “Rosie the Riveter,” a famous icon for worker’s rights and women’s engagement in factory labor during World War II. They will collect signatures to help make sure that every worker in Massachusetts has the right to earned paid sick time and can afford to feed their family when working full time. Jessica Avery, student at Mt. Holyoke and MotherWoman Advocacy Intern said, “ These two ballot initiatives are vital to Massachusetts workers. These initiatives are about ensuring that workers get what they have earned. All work is meaningful, and that needs to be shown through workers’ benefits.”

Over 1 million workers in Massachusetts do not even have one paid sick day.  Approximately 94,000 workers make minimum wage in Massachusetts, which for a fulltime employee is $16,000 per year, and over half a million workers earn between $8 and $11 dollars per hour.  According to the Living Wage Calculator developed by MIT, the required income of 1 adult for a living wage in Massachusetts is $23,000.  It is nearly impossible to support a family on minimum wage in this state, which means that many fulltime workers are still below the poverty level.  According to Public Policy Polling, 61% of Massachusetts’s voters support the minimum wage increase ballot initiative, and 50% of voters support the earn paid sick time initiative.

According to the Center for American Progress, increasing the minimum wage to just $10.10 per hour would affect 58.6% of Massachusetts’s women. That figure accounts for almost 301,000 women in Massachusetts, many of whom are single mothers supporting their families. Dean Cycon from Dean’s Beans said, “ For over a decade, Dean’s Beans has had paid sick time because it is simply the right thing to do. While many businesses believe it will have negative consequences, our program has actually been very positive! We have a healthier, happier, and more committed work force.”

Raise Up Massachusetts is spearheading this campaign, but a variety of coalitions and organizations are involved with bringing these initiatives to the ballot. MotherWoman along with Berkshire Brigade is ensuring that Western Massachusetts does their share to bring these initiatives to the ballot. The Coalition for Social Justice, Progressive Massachusetts, and many interfaith groups are also working very closely with Raise Up Massachusetts to gather signatures. Joe Lazzerini of Raise Up Massachusetts and the Coalition for Social Justice said, “The outpouring of statewide interest in this campaign has been very impressive. We have received over 70,000 signatures, but are still in need of about 130,000 more.”

The “Rosie the Riveter” Halloween event will take place from 6:30-8:30pm in South Hadley, Amherst and Northampton. If you are interested in participating, want to bring this campaign to your neighborhood or want to learn more about MotherWoman’s policy work, contact advocacy@motherwoman.org or call (413)-387-0703.

MotherWoman serves mothers and families through support groups and training with community leaders and professionals to facilitate groups for mothers across the region. MotherWoman trains medical, mental health and social service professionals about postpartum depression and anxiety. They have developed and continue to host county-based multi-disciplinary coalitions in implementing their nationally recognized Community-based Perinatal Support Model. MotherWoman engaging mothers, fathers and caregivers in taking action on policies that impact families. http://www.motherwoman.org

Raise Up Massachusetts works to ensure that working families are able to earn fair wages and care for themselves and family members when they are sick is essential for Massachusetts’s workers They are fighting to require employers to offer earned sick time and raise the minimum wage. http://raiseupma.org

Info on Ballot initiatives and stat links:

Public Policy Polling: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/09/ma-voters-yes-to-minimum-wage-increase-no-to-shutdown.html 

Center for American Progress: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/09/washington-named-one-of-the-10-best-states-for-women/