Legislators Work to Enact “Grand Bargain”

A day after negotiators announced a compromise, legislators set about making the agreement law. The so called “Grand Bargain” was drafted by a coalition of business leaders, labor unions, and elected officials in an effort to avert a number of questions slated to appear on November’s ballot.

Specifically, the proposal would institute an annual sales tax holiday and phase out mandated overtime pay for retail workers on Sundays and holidays. It would also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years and establish a statewide paid medical and family leave program. These items differ from their respective ballot questions in that there would be no reduction in the sales tax, the minimum wage would not be indexed to inflation after reaching $15 an hour, and businesses with less than twenty five employees would not be required to contribute to the paid leave program- though their employees could opt to buy in themselves.

Discussing the compromise at a North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce event the morning after its announcement, Senate President Harriette Chandler stated that “no one was in love with it, but no one hated it and everyone liked it, and that’s the sign of a good deal”. She went on to explain that the bill would go before the General Court that day.

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce echoed the Senate President’s assessment. “While there are aspects of this proposal we are unhappy with, it does represent a fair compromise” stated Chamber President & CEO Roy Nascimento. “Compared with the ballot proposals, this language takes significant steps to protect small businesses while addressing the concerns of activists” Christopher McDermott, the Chamber’s public affairs manager, added. “We simply hope that all parties involved will honor their word and withdraw their ballot initiatives after passage.”

The proposal passed the legislation that night, and currently awaits approval from the Governor prior to implementation.

Related: Chamber Positions on Ballot Questions