Local 888 Executive Board member Fred Simmons joined nearly 400 other workers on March 26 at a Raise Up Massachusetts rally for a raise in the minimum wage.
[caption id="attachment_4691" align="alignright" width="300"]Greg Gigg (Teamsters Local 25), Fred Simmons Haverhill School Custodians and Local 888 Executive Board with Local 888 Secretary Treasurer Brenda Rodrigues at a rally to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts.[/caption]
After coming together to share their stories, everyone headed into the State House to lobby their representatives.
The House recently announced a bill that would also raise the minimum wage to $10.50 without including cuts or eligibility restrictions to unemployment insurance benefits.
"The House proposal could make a significant difference in the lives of low wage workers," said Simmons. "But the campaign is urging our reps to also include a higher wage for tipped workers and indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living."
The tipped minimum wage has been stuck at $2.63 since 1999. Over 70% of tipped workers are women and 77% are adults. Living on tipped wages is difficult because workers' income is not guaranteed. The unpredictability of tipped wages make it very hard for workers to budget their finances and pay for rent, health care and other expenses. Tipped workers deserve more stability for their efforts, and should not live in poverty while working full-time. Raising the tipped minimum wage to 60% of the regular minimum wage helps give more predictability and dignity to tipped workers.
Indexing is crucial to ensuring wages keep up with the cost of the living. The cost of living is constantly on the rise, but historically, wages have not kept up with that pace. Just since 2008, the last time Massachusetts increased the minimum wage, minimum wage workers have lost nearly $1,500 per year, because wages were not indexed to inflation.