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Written Testimony of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce

Submitted to The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development for the Hearing Record on regarding HB4111 - Initiative Petition -

An Act for a law raising the minimum wage

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

 

The Bristol County Chamber of Commerce wishes to voice opposition to HB4111 - Initiative Petition - An Act for a law raising the minimum wage. What greatly troubles the more than eight hundred member businesses of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce is that the drive to increase the minimum wage comes on the heels of the health care assessment on employers and an increase to the EMAC fees. This action also follows the mandating of employer paid sick leave, and increases to employer paid health care, unemployment and workers compensation insurance. Where is does it stop?

 

In 2016, the Massachusetts minimum wage rose to $11 per hour. That was a 9% increase, which small businesses also had to absorb. Massachusetts is now one of the highest minimum wage states in the United States. Three-quarters of Massachusetts employers will face another substantial increase if the initiative petition for the $15 per hour minimum wage is passed. It is also important to reflect that a $15 minimum wage is actually over $20 per hour when employer withholdings, and other mandated contributions are added. Time and a half on Sundays within the retail sector will also shift to an outrageous $22.50. Impacts from the initiative petition for employer paid family and medical is another fear.

 

Competiveness within the retail sector is a serious issue in Massachusetts that needs more attention. Look at the statewide closings of Walmart, Best Buy, J.C. Penny and Benny’s as evidence. In an e-commerce environment where consumers shop for the cheapest price via the internet there is little room for brick and mortar businesses to remain competitive. The establishment of a $15 minimum wage will certainly impact to the remaining retailers in Massachusetts.

 

Another genuine concern is that Massachusetts is one of the few states without a teen wage. Rhode Island and New Hampshire are competitor states that offer a competitive minimum wage and an introductory teen wage. The Rhode Island minimum wage is $10.50 an hour. Their teen wage is $ 9.09 per hour for workers under 19 and 7.58 an hour for 14 – 15 year olds. New Hampshire has a $7.25 minimum wage and a teen wage of $5.46. At $22.50, who is going to hire a teen?

 

The bottom line is that small businesses in Massachusetts are getting beaten down by the onslaught of fees and initiative driven mandates. In addition to raising the minimum wage there are initiatives and bills in play that if passed will mandate employer paid family and medical leave, enact strict scheduling and establish a millionaire’s tax on small businesses. According to “Forbes’s Magazine,” Massachusetts is the highest cost of doing business state in the nation. The initiative petition for a $15 minimum wage increase unfairly punishes mom and pop businesses as if they are Wall Street brokerages. Keep in mind that large employers will adjust through automation but your constituent café on Main Street, or the hardware store in your district are less resilient.

 

In the days ahead it is hoped that members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will take the time to contemplate the impacts of what a $15 minimum wage will do to their constituents who own and run small businesses. Please also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti-business burdens such as strict scheduling and employer paid family and medical leave. Thank you in advance for the opportunity to submit testimony on this important issue.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Robert A. Mellion, Esq.

Chief Executive Officer/ President

Bristol County Chamber of Commerce

 

 

 

 

Written Testimony of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce

Submitted to The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development for the Hearing Record on HB4110 - Initiative Petition -

An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

 

The Bristol County Chamber of Commerce wishes to voice its opposition to HB4110 - Initiative Petition - An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program, that if enacted would mandate an Employer Paid Family & Medical Leave benefit at the expense of Massachusetts businesses. Of great concern is that the threat of an Employer Paid Family and Medical Leave law comes on the heels of the health care assessment on employers and an increase to the EMAC fees. This action also follows the mandating of employer paid sick leave, and increases to employer paid health care, unemployment and workers compensation insurance. Where is does it stop?

 

Employer paid family and medical leave will be a great burden to small business businesses by mandating their workers 26 weeks paid time off to care for themselves and 16 weeks for family members. Both benefits would allow for intermittent and extended periods of time with pay. The paid benefits will be employer financed and could cost small businesses as much as $1000 per week, per employee. This is in addition to the expense of finding and paying for alternative workers that will be needed to make up for the individuals taking employer paid time off.
 
While a handful of states, such as Rhode Island and New Jersey, have enacted medical and family leave provisions, their programs are mostly funded by employee payroll deductions. Massachusetts would be an exception by placing such a burden on businesses. For the Massachusetts program to work, $1 billion in new taxes must be raised. 50% of the new tax will be from employers and 50% on employees. Approximately $70 million of that $1 billion will be to fund a new state agency. In addition to the $1 billion needed, it will also cost the state an estimated $55 million to provide the new benefit.

 

Please also keep in mind that Massachusetts is already identified as the highest cost state in the nation to do business within. It is additionally important to recognize that the current Legislative Session includes bills and initiative petitions that if enacted would mandate 3 weeks in advance employer scheduling, establish a $15 minimum wage, establish a millionaire’s tax that is a another tax on limited liability companies and S corporations and further increase the cost of energy in the state that already has the highest cost for electricity in the United States. The newly enacted employer paid health care assessment is just now hitting businesses. Another hit is Unemployment Insurance. All of these hardships are coming at Massachusetts companies at once. It is too much for many small businesses to endure.

 

In the days ahead it is hoped that members of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will take the time to contemplate the impacts of what employer paid family and medical leave can do to their constituent businesses. Please try to balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional burdens such as “HB4110 - Initiative Petition - An Act establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program.” Hopefully it will be recognized that all of these employer paid mandates are too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb in one legislative session.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on this important issue.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Robert A. Mellion, Esq.

President & CEO

Bristol County Chamber of Commerce

 

 

 

Jennifer Lourenco

Communications Manager

 

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