News in Brief: June 30, 2014
Minimum Wage – Statehouse
Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law on Thursday an act that will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017. The current state minimum wage is $8 an hour and the first increase will take place on January 1, 2015, when the minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour.
SEIU 888 – Malden
The Malden City Council voted on Tuesday, June 24 to support Mayor Gary Christenson's plan to provide an additional $2,226,293 to the School Dept. to keep 28 custodians and members of the SEIU local 888 – who were in danger of being laid off – working at the Malden Public Schools. The funding will also provide for hiring a new custodial supervisor to ensure improvement in school cleanliness. The mayor's plan came about after Councillor Neil Kinnon succeeded in winning majority support on the council for transferring the custodians from the School Dept. budget to the city budget. In response, the mayor was adamant about keeping the custodians in the School Dept. budget and his support would be critical to winning the additional funding needed for 14 custodians and a new supervisor.
Better Future Project and 350 Massachusetts – Bay State
Environmental advocate groups Better Future Project and 350 Massachusetts released a new report last week showing that methane leakage increases the climate impact of natural gas consumed in Massachusetts by as much as 172%, adding dramatically to the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. The new report reviews the latest scientific literature and finds that, over a 100-year timescale, methane leakage adds 34-68% to the greenhouse gas emissions from the use of natural gas. It finds that fully accounting for methane leaks would raise overall statewide greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts by 10 to 25% -- an amount which negates much of the state’s emissions reduction efforts over the last decade and threatens to push the state’s legally mandated 2020 emissions reduction target of 25% below 1990 levels out of reach. The report was co-sponsored by Toxics Action Center, Climate Action Liaison Coalition, and Students for a Just and Stable Future.
UNITE HERE, Doubletree Hotel Workers – Allston
Workers at the Doubletree hotel in Allston renewed their demands for a fair unionization process in a protest at the Harvard University-owned hotel on Wednesday. The workers’ union, UNITE HERE, is claiming that up to a thousand workers and their supporters took part in the demonstration.
Campaign for a Debt-Free Future – Boston
Student debt activists continued their calls on the US Department of Education to alleviate what they say is an unsustainable debt burden on college students in a rally held outside the federal department’s office in Boston on Wednesday. As previously reported, the group says that student debt has exceeded $1trn.