With Mass. Jobless Rate at 3.6%, Workers are Gaining Clout

By Deidre Fernandes

“On Thursday, the Massachusetts High Technology Council released a survey of 60 executives that found nearly all of them felt the business environment in the state was holding steady or improving.

“They say, ‘This is a good place for me to be,’ ” said Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of the council.

But Gallagher, Steinberg, and other employers said they are starting to experience the flip side of a booming economy and a tight labor market: the struggle to fill jobs.

“It’s a good thing for the economy, it’s a good thing for employees, but it’s a challenge for employers,” Gallagher said. “It is a business war for talent.””

Unemployment in Massachusetts fell to a jaw-dropping 3.6 percent in September, the lowest in more than 15 years, leaving little doubt the state has recovered from the Great Recession and its economy is steaming ahead.

Massachusetts employers have added 63,800 jobs this year, helping to drive the unemployment rate down 1.2 percentage points since September 2015, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. Continue reading

Altering Focus to What Matters at Tech Companies

By Colin A. Young

“”We’re hearing directly from business leaders Massachusetts’ advantages — like our best-in-the-nation talent pool — can be offset by other more challenging factors including the high costs of doing business and the need to improve our transportation systems,” Christopher Anderson, president of the Mass. High Tech Council, said in a statement.”

Most Massachusetts technology executives view the state as a good place to do business with a business environment that is steady or improving, but the cost of doing business and transportation issues continue to pose risks for future growth, a new survey from the Massachusetts High Technology Council found.

The council’s inaugural Executive Competitiveness Insight Survey, conducted by KPMG in September, found 72 percent of executives surveyed rated Massachusetts as a good or excellent place to do business, and 90 percent said they feel the local business environment is “holding steady or improving.” Continue reading

After Tech Tax, Council Rounding Up Info for Hill’s Next Big Tax Debate

By Colin Young

The Massachusetts High Technology Council is gearing up to fight the proposed surtax on households with incomes above $1 million and hopes to persuade lawmakers not to advance the so-called “millionaire’s tax” to the 2018 ballot.

The council, a roughly 130-member trade organization that pushes initiatives favored by the high tech industry on Beacon Hill, is raising money and waiting to learn the makeup of the next Legislature, which is expected to put the proposed surtax to voters on the 2018 ballot with an affirmative vote at a Constitutional Convention next session.

“We’re doing our homework and research right now with the reality that another Constitutional Convention is required before this moves forward and in order to be best prepared and to determine what our strategy will be,” MHTC President Christopher Anderson told the News Service on Thursday. “Because we do think passing a new tax like this does not create a more efficient, affordable or accountable government. So we’re doing our homework.” Continue reading

Business Group Aims to Kill ‘Millionaires’ Tax’

By Frank Phillips

The Massachusetts High Technology Council is asking its members to raise $400,000 to lay the groundwork for a Beacon Hill campaign to kill the so-called “millionaires’ tax” ballot initiative before it reaches voters in 2018.

The council, a 130-member trade association that lobbies on behalf of the state’s high-tech industry at the State House, wants to determine the best strategy to persuade Massachusetts lawmakers to reverse their initial approval for the proposed constitutional amendment.

The money will allow the group to build a potential legal challenge and help sharpen its arguments to lawmakers that the tax would damage the state economy.

The measure, which was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers in May, would impose a 4 percent levy on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million starting in 2019. The proposal needs one more vote in the next legislative session before heading to the ballot. Continue reading

Viewpoint: Charter Expansion Key to Winning Tech Talent

By Christopher Anderson, President of the Massachusetts High Technology Council

The high quality of Massachusetts’ workforce, with the highest percentage of bachelor’s degrees of any state and one of the nation’s highest ratios of tech employment to total employment, is well-documented.  Less well-known, however, is that Massachusetts remains one of the most difficult places to hire technology talent, according to the Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System.  The reason: demand for talent is far outstripping supply. If Massachusetts can’t meet the growing demand for talent our tech employers need, our prospects for economic expansion could be threatened as jobs that would otherwise be created here are placed in other states.

To ensure the commonwealth’s tech employers can access a sufficient supply of skilled workers, it’s crucial that we optimize every potential source of talent.  Our state’s public schools which, on the whole, are among the best in the nation remain our primary source of opportunity.  Unfortunately, access to excellent schools in Massachusetts remains uneven and unequal.  According to data from Great Schools Massachusetts, some 250,000 children in the commonwealth are at serious risk of landing in a failing school. Continue reading

“Big Three” Look Back on Failed Talks Over Non-Compete Bill

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, AUG. 2, 2016…..Reiterating his support for the bill as it passed the House, Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that legislation to limit the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts did not reach Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

A conference committee of six House and Senate lawmakers failed on Sunday to reach a deal on the non-compete bill, one of six major pieces of legislation Baker had identified as a priority for the end of legislative session.

“We felt very strongly, after spending hours discussing this with all parties, that all parties came together and supported the House legislation,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. “Things changed, you know, in terms of what had happened in the Senate, and unfortunately, at the end of the day, we weren’t able to get it done.” Continue reading

DeLeo: Charter Proposal Never Should Have Reached Ballot

By Katie Lannan

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Tuesday he regrets not getting a charter school bill done and thinks the complex and controversial education policy issue shouldn’t have been left to be settled at the ballot box this November.

Question 2 on November’s ballot will ask Massachusetts voters whether to allow state education officials to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions per year. A heated campaign is underway, with charter supporters saying the schools provide critical education opportunities to students who would otherwise lack them while opponents say they drain resources away from traditional public schools that serve a much larger portion of the state’s students.

“I felt very strongly that this is something that should never have been to the ballot box. This is something we should have been able to debate,” DeLeo said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. Continue reading

Empty-Handed Again, MA Noncompete Reformers Seek More Progress

By Jeff Engel

That was a step too far,” says Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of public policy and communications for the Massachusetts High Technology Council. “There were legitimate business interests that needed to be protected.”

But Gallagher emphasizes the council’s willingness to “not just assent to additional restrictions,” but actually support them. “We moved a long way from where we were a year or 18 months ago,” Gallagher says of his organization and other business groups that have resisted significant changes to Massachusetts noncompete laws.”

After another Massachusetts legislative session ended without passage of noncompete reform, stakeholders on both sides of the issue expressed disappointment that a deal didn’t get done.

It’s not the outcome anyone wanted—or so they say—but that alone is evidence of how the debate shifted during the latest attempt to make changes to the state’s rules on employment noncompete agreements. Continue reading

Here Are Some of the Boston Tech Cos. Supporting the Campaign Against Noncompete Reform

By Dylan Martin

“Mark Gallagher, executive vice president of public policy and communications for the council, told us in an email, “There are a variety of views among our individual members. The Council’s position reflects a balancing of those viewpoints.””

Two days before the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill last week that would nearly eliminate most noncompetes, a coalition that included the Massachusetts High Technology Council made it clear it wasn’t happy with the legislation.

“We continue to believe that there is little evidence that the use of noncompete agreements harms Massachusetts’ position as a globally recognized leader in innovation,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the Senate on July 12. “… Employers believe selective use of noncompetes protects the significant investments that allow their companies to be global leaders in their industries and to create jobs in the commonwealth.” Full text of the letter is here. Continue reading

The House has Unanimously Passed Legislation that Seeks to Reduce the Wage Gap Between Men and Women

By Lauren Dezenski

“The Massachusetts High Tech Council says it prefers the House language but remains opposed to any legislative measures.

“The House bill is a significant improvement over the bill passed by the Senate. But the Council cannot support any version of legislation that would create a presumption that any pay differential between employees of different genders is the result of discriminatory action by an employer,” said Mass High Tech Council executive vice president Mark Gallagher.”

The House has unanimously passed legislation that seeks to reduce the wage gap between men and women.

The measure passed by a vote of 158-0 and would make it illegal for employers to pay employees different wages because of their gender or pay employees less because of their gender. Continue reading