EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 23, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

O’Connor Ives owes us an explanation on minimum wage

To the editor:

Last week, state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives voted in opposition to a bill that proposes to raise the state minimum wage to $11 over the course of three years and index it to the rate of inflation thereafter (S. 1925, “An act to restore the minimum wage”). She was just one of seven senators to do so, and (thankfully) the bill passed the state Senate overwhelmingly.

During debate of the bill, Sen. O’Connor Ives proposed amendments to, among other things, raise the minimum wage instead to just $9 per hour (a mere dollar increase over the current rate of $8 per hour) and nullify the portion of the bill that would index it to inflation. These amendments starkly contrast with her stated positions on these matters just last year. In questionnaire responses she submitted to Progressive Massachusetts, a grassroots political advocacy group, Sen. O’Connor Ives expressed support for both a $10 minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. So, I wonder: Aside from her no longer chasing after Progressive Massachusetts’ endorsement, what caused her to change her mind?

On her Facebook page, Sen. O’Connor Ives explains that her opposition and her various amendment proposals are borne out of concern for the impact she thinks the bill would have on small businesses. If the bill were to become law, some businesses will, indeed, have to become more efficient, absorb some costs and otherwise adapt. But she ignores the fact that many more businesses will benefit from the wage increase, as it will lead to greater consumer purchasing power and, therefore, demand.

Both on her Facebook page post and in her opposition to the bill, she also ignores the concerns of workers who live in abject poverty, thousands of whom live in her district. Whether it’s struggling to keep up with the state’s high cost of living or worrying about how they’ll afford the next meal for themselves and their children, the concerns of the working poor certainly have not changed over the course of the last year.

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