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    Push to get paid leave, minimum wage questions on ballot begins

    Raise Up Massachusetts on Monday kicked off its signature-gathering campaign to get paid family and medical leave and a $15-an-hour minimum wage on the November 2018 ballot.

    The coalition of community, labor, and religious groups has to collect at least 64,750 signatures from supporters for each ballot question by Dec. 6. A second round of signatures — 10,792 per question — is due in June.

    If the Legislature fails to act on related bills by the end of June, the questions will be put to voters.

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    The paid family and medical leave program would provide up to 16 weeks of paid time off for new parents and those caring for a family member, and up to 26 weeks for workers recovering from their own illness or injury.

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    The $15 minimum wage question would raise the state minimum wage, currently $11 an hour, by $1 a year over four years; it would then be adjusted each year according to the cost of living.

    Raise Up Massachusetts has done this before. The coalition successfully gathered enough signatures to get paid sick time and a minimum wage hike on the ballot three years ago. In June of 2014, the Legislature took up the minimum wage issue, raising it from $8 to $11 over three years, and voters approved mandatory earned sick time for all workers that fall.

    The coalition has also collected enough signatures to put the Fair Share Amendment on next year’s ballot, which will create a tax of an additional 4 percentage points on annual income above $1 million.

    “Since our diverse coalition came together, we’ve raised wages and won benefits for over a million working people in Massachusetts,” Raise Up cochair Lew Finfer said in a statement. “By organizing people where they live, where they work, and where they worship, we are building a majority movement to create an economy that invests in families, gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and creates broadly shared prosperity.”

    Katie Johnston
    can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.