Gateway Cities Campaign Spotlight

The Big (Ballot) Question in the Gateways?

Question 4 – The Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative

Of the four ballot measures to be decided by voters this November, Question 4 seems to have caused the least amount of political buzz across the Commonwealth. The ballot question that looks to repeal the casino law, and to a lesser extent the other two questions focused on the state gas tax and expanding the state’s beverage container recycling law, have generated substantial state-wide campaigns. Meanwhile Question 4 – the Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative, which if approved would “entitle certain employees to earn and utilize paid sick days,” has in large part been left to the voters to decide without much public persuasion from outside advocacy and stakeholder groups.

Despite this lack of organized support or opposition to the ballot initiative, the outcome of Question 4 may have a larger impact for voters in Gateway Cities according to a new report released today by the non-partisan watchdog, MassBudget. The report points out that, in general, a larger percentage of workers who do not already receive sick time entitlements are employed in Gateway Cities. As an example the city of Lowell had 40% of its workers not covered by sick time, while only 29% of individuals employed in the town surrounding Lowell (i.e Dracut, Tyngsborough, Westford, & Chelmsford) have no sick day coverage. The report also discovers that 54 percent of MA workers earning under $35,000 (a demographic heavily represented in the Gateway Cities) do not have earned paid sick time.

While the issue of fairness of the state’s labor market is an extremely important issue that affects every city and town in the Commonwealth, Gateway Cities voters may want to put in more consideration to Question 4 than has been given to it by political pundits, media outlets, and advocacy groups.

– Winthrop Roosevelt
Director of Public Affairs

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