In a hint of a potential general election attack, Democrat Martha Coakley today criticized gubernatorial rival Republican Charlie Baker for his opposition to a ballot question that, if passed by voters in November, would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use up to 40 hours of sick time each year.
Coakley said no one should have to choose between staying home if they get sick or potentially losing their job.
“Yet we have now learned that Charlie Baker is opposed to the ballot question to provide earned sick time for every worker in Massachusetts,” she said in a statement. “Charlie’s opposition to earned sick time shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the difficulties faced by working families, especially working mothers. If corporate CEOs don’t have to choose between caring for a sick child or parent and losing their job, then neither should working families.”
Today, Baker spokesman Tim Buckley said Baker is opposed to the ballot initiative, Question 4, but would work to implement if it passes and he’s elected governor.
In a statement, Buckley said, “Charlie thinks all employers should provide sick leave time to their employees, as well as other benefit programs like flex time for working parents, and he is concerned this one-size-fits-all ballot question would inhibit employers in providing the benefits that work best for their employees.”
Buckley added a knock of his own on Coakley: “It isn’t surprising a career prosecutor doesn’t understand that there are more effective ways to achieve this goal without harming small businesses and costing people their jobs.”
Buckley emphasized Baker’s support for boosting the earned income tax credit, a credit designed to help low-income people.
Public polling has found Coakley leading her Democratic gubernatorial rivals by a significant margin. They are Treasurer Steven Grossman and former federal Medicare and Medicaid chief Donald M. Berwick.
Grossman released a statement on Saturday, criticizing Baker’s position on the sick time issue.
“Charlie’s failure to take a strong progressive position and stand with working families today is deeply disappointing,” Grossman said.
Baker faces a GOP primary challenge from businessman Mark R. Fisher.
Also running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick, who isn’t running for a third term, are three independent candidates.Joshua Miller can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.