NFIB in Massachusetts is at the table
Following Small Business Day in April, legislative leaders requested that representatives of the business community, including NFIB, meet with members of organized labor to discuss the ballot questions on $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, as well as the sales tax rollback. Both Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Harriett Chandler hoped to work towards a legislative solution instead of a fight at the ballot box this November.
NFIB strongly opposes a paid family medical leave ballot proposal that will mandate employers of all sizes to offer 26 weeks of job-protected paid medical leave, and 16 weeks of job-protected paid family leave. The cost is estimated to be $1 billion, raised by a payroll tax on both employers and their workers. NFIB also opposes the ballot proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022 and then index it to inflation. That ballot issue also raises the tipped wage for restaurant servers to $9 per hour by 2022. If implemented, a $15 minimum wage would prove even more devastating to retail shops, who are forced to pay Sunday/holiday time-and-a-half pay. The shop owners would be paying $22.50 per hour as the minimum wage on Sundays. It is also important to note that Massachusetts is 1 of 11 states lacking a teen or training wage for young and unskilled workers. Both of these labor-related questions are viewed as favorable by Massachusetts voters according to recent polling.
There is also a ballot question to benefit small businesses and consumers. Our friends at the Retailers Association sponsored a question that rolls back the state sales tax from 6.25% to 5%. It also guarantees a sales tax holiday weekend every August. NFIB joined this effort. Legislators know the sales tax rollback is supported by a majority of Massachusetts residents and may cause the state budgetary issues. They prefer to see it removed from the ballot. The question which would impose an income tax surcharge of 4% on individual and pass-through businesses with income over $1 million, also factors into these discussions. However, that question is being challenged before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by NFIB, the MA High Tech Council, AIM, MA Taxpayers Foundation and the MA Competitive Partnership. A decision is expected at any moment.
Legislative leaders want a “grand bargain” that removes all three questions from the ballot and addresses the issues through the legislative process. NFIB has urged legislators to ensure small businesses are taken into consideration if they plan to craft any legislation to deal with the ballot issues. We have emphasized a $15 minimum wage will be devastating for small businesses, especially with the Massachusetts specific premium pay laws and lack of teen/training wage. NFIB stressed a one-size-fits-all approach to paid family and medical leave would have an adversely negative effect on Main Street small businesses. NFIB members are still absorbing the cost of paid sick leave; small businesses cannot afford another new, costly mandate.
NFIB continuously reminds your elected officials who are working towards a compromise, that there must be a balance. If a legislative solution is in the works, it must not only benefit the labor community, but it should include measures to ease the cost burden on small businesses. Operating a business in Massachusetts is already expensive with our high healthcare costs, energy prices, and new EMAC tax. Adding additional labor increases will only hinder economic growth and stifle job creation.
Unfortunately, the labor community recently violated the good-faith discussion efforts by publicly attacking the business community and holding several rallies on issues like the tipped wage, a teen training wage, and premium Sunday/holiday pay. Whether or not these issues will end up on the ballot in November or before the Legislature is dependent upon all parties working towards a balanced solution. NFIB will keep members updated as the process moves forward.