MA Ballot Question 4 (2014)

Question 4

Amanda Martin, December 2014

Earning sick time hasn’t always been an option for the working. Employers haven’t had to give sick time because it isn’t always cost effective and most businesses are flexible with situations like this. Along with minimum wage these days not being able to help pay the bills necessary and doesn’t quite match our cost of living in this state, the sick time earned also isn’t there to earn so we could utilize our healthcare. There is a new proposed law posed in the form of a question on this year’s voting ballot and it will go along with the minimum wage increase we are soon to experience in this state. Along with costing businesses a lot of money, it will put more money into the worker’s hands to help make a living and take care of their families.

Every year around this time, there is tons of media reported about the election. This year the election happens to be an off year, but it does propose some serious questions. With this year being an off year, the questions are being targeted more toward those who don’t normally vote in elections. The questions on the ballot include eliminating gas tax indexing, expanding the beverage container deposit law, expanding prohibitions on gaming and earned sick time for employees. With Question 4, it will be targeted towards the working class and hopefully gain it position as a law in Massachusetts for those who are in support of the Minimum Wage Increase. Also being targeted with this question are single working mothers. This question would be such a benefit for them, they just can’t resist. But there are also those who oppose this question due to the fact it isn’t cost effective and could be bad for businesses big and small and even our entire economy, which isn’t too great as it is. Question 4 of the Massachusetts 2014 voting ballot will ask its citizens whether or not they approve of the Paid Sick Days Initiative. This proposed law would allow employees to earn and use sick time in Massachusetts. Along with many rules and guidelines for employers and employees, this law goes hand in hand with the Minimum Wage Increase Initiative on June 18, 2014. The yes voters for this question would gain this as a new law for employees of Massachusetts. They will be able to earn sick time and use it when it is applicable. The no voters for this question will keep the laws the way they are already and there would be no change. Coming up on November 4, we will see what happens. [1]

According to the supporters of this proposed law, there is almost 1 million people who can’t earn sick time at their place of employment and are left with choosing between supporting their family or taking care of their health or their children’s health. They argue that hardworking people should be able to choose between the job/jobs they work and their children whom they need to support. Massachusetts has near universal health care and with that should come more availability to take care of our health. [2] Supporters of this proposed law include U.S. Senator Ed Markey and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Also Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition, Roman Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital, and many other organizations are giving a thumb up for this question on 2014 voters’ ballot. Kate Walsh, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center, argues that Massachusetts has the best health care in the country and that many people don’t have access to it and if it was accessible the population would get the health care they need. [3] Also in the upcoming election, Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker, running for governor, are taking sides on this debate. Coakley, Democratic Candidate, is for this proposed law to be put into place. She argues that Charlie’s opposition shows that he doesn’t understand the difficulties that working families face. The basic of this year’s off-year election is to get those who normally don’t vote in off year elections to vote. This campaign is marketing their campaign towards working families making less than $35,000 and single mothers especially. This question would be helpful for single mothers to get time off to take care of their children rather than sending their children off to school still sick and everyone else gets sick because that one child wasn’t taken to the doctor due to the fact their mother couldn’t take them instead of working. This proposed law would be beneficial for the working class no matter who according to its supporters who bring up very valid points. [4]

With every debate there has to be two sides. Those who aren’t in favor of the question are business owners large and small. This question not only affects the employee of a company, but it also affects the business owner in the opposite direction. The opponents of this question on the 2014 ballot also believe that it would be detrimental to businesses in Massachusetts. If the question on the ballot is voted against, then no laws will change and everything will remain the same. The argument for voting no on this year’s ballot is it will cost businesses more money along with the minimum wages going up at the same time. Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, argues that when sick time is used it will increase the labor cost of that one employee double because the shift would need to be covered and on top of that the employee would have to be paid for their sick time, assuming their business has more than 11 employees. [5] Along with the minimum wage increase, businesses would start paying a lot more for employees in the upcoming years. This proposed law would be disastrous because it is a proposed solution rather than leaving room for there to be a more compatible solution to be made, that both sides of the argument can agree on. Along with the higher cost per employee, you have to think of public employees are being paid with tax money and those who are part time and seasonal workers would also cost just as much as a full time employee because everyone is included in the mandate. Along with costing businesses more money it could cost people losing their jobs. A recent study was done showing that with question 4 in place; it could result in 16,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in lost economic activity. It would hurt small businesses more than large businesses and would lose more than half of their sales revenue because of the higher costs. From this point of view, the question 4 proposed law seems to be very bad for our already horrible economy. The costs, the losses, and it is just another burden for small businesses. [6] All of these arguments the supporters have very valid points. The supporters of this Vote No Campaign for question 4 include Charlie Baker, candidate for Governor in this year’s election, along with Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. Baker does propose another possible solution for this problem our state is having, and because it isn’t included in the proposed law, it would have to go through a whole other process to get on the ballot. With the solution proposed in the question leaves no room for other ideas to go around. [7]

Just a week before the voting polls open, the question compared to its supporters, the candidates for governor. Both have a pretty close tie for first, but Baker is taking the lead as he won the debate when he got emotional about his fisherman story. [8] With just a week, this time is crucial for them and this question. Question 4 is an important question for all business owners and all the workers in our state. If this question is voted for, it makes more changes for everyone whether they are the employer or employee. With these laws put into place it affects everyone, from taxpayer to employer. Earning sick time for employees would be beneficial for them and they can better their health and take care of their children health wise besides financially helping them. Employers would not be benefitting from it. Actually they would be hurting from it because it would cost them double the money to cover that sick time for all of their employees. This law would be imposed for the welfare of the working class and help them to utilize our almost universal health care system. November 4, 2014 the ballot question was voted in favor of the new proposed law that will take place in July of 2015. Now parents in Massachusetts will not have to choose between helping their sick children and working to put food on the table. The actual results of the ballot question were 1,252,197 votes to 856,280, which is quite the difference. This new proposed law was definitely in favor for and changes many things for Massachusetts in the upcoming months.


[1] 2014. Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative, Question 4(2014). Accessed October 24, 2013.,_Question_4_%282014%29.
[2] 2014. Yes on 4 Massachusetts . Accessed October 24, 2014.
[3] 2014. Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative, Question 4(2014). Accessed October 24, 2013.,_Question_4_%282014%29.
[4] 2014. A Ballot question with coattails. October 3. Accessed October 24, 2014.
[5] 2014. Vote No on 4. Accessed October 24, 2014.
[6] 2014. Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Initiative, Question 4(2014). Accessed October 24, 2013.,_Question_4_%282014%29.
[7] 2014. A Ballot question with coattails. October 3. Accessed October 24, 2014.
[8] 2014. WBUR: Baker keeps slim lead over Coakley. October 28. Accessed October 28, 2014.

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