Politics

Boston Mayor Announces $15 Minimum Wage Task Force

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Boston Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh announced Tuesday the city is putting together a task force that will study the impact a $15 minimum wage would have on the city. 

Walsh detailed the plan during his State of the City address, and said the task force will include both employers and workers. Currently, only cities have enacted a $15 minimum wage — not states — starting with Seattle in June 2014. Massachusetts presently has a $10 statewide minimum wage.

“We’ll take the conversation about inequality one step further,” Walsh declared. “We will bring workers and employers together in a task force to study a $15-an-hour minimum wage for Boston.”

Minimum wage supporters have advocated for the increase as a way to help the poor. Critics, however, warn the policy could actually hurt the poor by forcing them out of the job market. The problem is many businesses simply don’t have the profits to handle such an increase, so employers could be left with few options besides increasing costs or scaling back their workforce.

Walsh, a former union leader, argues the increase is a step in the right direction against inequality. Labor unions have played a critical role in pushing for the $15 minimum wage. The union-backed “Fight for $15” movement has utilized media marketing campaigns and mobilized protests to advocate for the policy.

The federal minimum wage at the moment is $7.25 an hour but most states have gone above it. Massachusetts lawmakers have already debated whether to enact a statewide $15 minimum wage. Additionally, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done a lot to advance the policy in his own state, while California is considering two competing union-backed measures.

Cuomo unilaterally raised wages for those working in the fast-food industry, state university workers and state employees. He also introduced a bill Sept. 10 that will gradually bring the state minimum wage to $15 by 2021 if passed by the legislature.

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