Looking to inspire residents to push the initiative forward, Raise Up Massachusetts, a campaign targeted on raising the minimum wage and creating a state-wide earned sick time policy, has held several rallies across Massachusetts.
On Sunday, workers rallied in Brookline to gain support for the campaign. Stephen Crawford, communications director for Raise Up Massachusetts, said the campaign’s goal is to reach 200,000 signatures so it can be on the ballot in the November 2014 election.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “We are gathering people together to celebrate our successes and encouraging people to continue working. We were lucky that a number of elected officials are willing to participate.”
Crawford said Raise Up Massachusetts is advocating increasing the current minimum wage for workers and requiring employers to offer earned sick time to ensure that employers keep up with the increasing cost of living.
“Our proposal, which will go before the voters, would raise the current minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9.25 the first year and $10.50 the second year,” he said. “After that, it would be tied to the rate of inflation.”
As of Wednesday, the campaign has received 150,000 signatures, according to the Raise Up Massachusetts Twitter account.
Among the elected officials who joined the group to support the initiative include Mass. Treasurer Steven Grossman, who running in the gubernatorial race in 2014.
“For more than a century, the success of our family business depended on retaining an experienced and talented workforce, and treating our workers with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he said in a Tuesday statement. “I’m proud to support earned sick time and a higher minimum wage for the citizens of our Commonwealth.”
Crawford said they hope to grant workers one-hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked and up to 40 hours a year so workers are not at risk of losing their jobs to take care of themselves or a loved one.
“I think we are going to be able to do it, particularly on earned sick times,” he said. “The people of Massachusetts understand that making the choice between the job you need and the sick child that you love is just not a choice that people should be making.”
Kevin Lang, a professor of economics at Boston University, said he supports reducing poverty and income inequality, but the importance of these laws is often exaggerated.
“I think the weight of the evidence is that increasing the minimum wage will have a small adverse effect on total employment and have a small additional adverse effect on who gets jobs, but that it also has a small beneficial effect on reducing income inequality and poverty,” he said. “Neither effect is large.”
Some residents said they support raising the minimum wage and gaining earned sick days.
Jill Haffield, 45, resident of Allston, said the current minimum wage is not a realistic source of income for someone to support himself or herself.
“You can’t make a living at a minimum-wage job,” she said. “You have to work 80 hours at a minimum wage job to pay minimum rent and then you don’t have much left over. I work in the field of hospitality and restaurants, and there’s no such thing [as a sick time policy]. When you start a job, they say never come into work sick because you could spread it, and then you call in sick and you’re penalized for it.”
Kyle Paine, 37, resident of the North End, said he always supports the conversation of raising the minimum wage, but increasing sick days is an issue that should be dealt with independently.
“People work hard and very rarely make enough to support themselves and major corporations often benefit as a result, but I’m not sure tying the two issues together make very much sense,” he said. “Its going to be hard enough to convince voters and legislators to put enough money aside so that people can bring up an acceptable salary, and adding the sick time to it will confuse the issue.”
Bobby Thorp, 37, resident of West Roxbury, said given the large student population in Boston, raising the minimum wage would help them pay for expensive tuition and student loans.
“It’s incredibly important especially for a city like ours,” he said. “It [Boston] has about  different colleges within a 21-square-mile area, so having the minimum wage raised a little bit more might be a good idea, especially with the number of students within the area. I think more time [for sick days] would be useful, but we need to be cautious that people need to run businesses.”