HARTFORD, Conn. – As the Connecticut General Assembly convenes today for the start of the 2018 session, unions representing thousands of Connecticut workers are standing together to demand the passage of bills that would support working people and strengthen communities in one of the most economically divided states in the nation. Together, union workers are supporting statewide bills that would provide:
- Paid Family Leave — to ensure that workers can take time off to welcome a new baby, care for an ill relative, or recover from a personal illness.
- A $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage — to allow Connecticut working people the ability to pay their bills by raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2022.
- Pay Equity — to stop mechanisms such as job interview pay-history inquiries that perpetuate lower pay for women.
- A Fair Workweek — to prohibit “on-demand” or “on-call” scheduling that wreaks havoc on working people’s ability to schedule their work and personal lives.
- Defense of Worker’s Rights to Organize — to allow for orientations to educate workers on the importance of joining and supporting a union in the wake of the Supreme Court’s anticipated assault on the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
- Protection from Bad Contractors — to prevent abusive employers from continuing their anti-worker, low-road activities via state contracts.
“At a moment when the federal government is doing all it can to undermine workers, legislators in Connecticut have an historic responsibility to support bills that equalize economic opportunity and recognize workers’ fundamental rights to fair wages and decent treatment,” said Juan Hernandez, District Leader of 32BJ SEIU Connecticut. “In addition to the common priorities of a $15 minimum, pay equity, paid family leave, protection from bad contractors, and a defense of organizing rights, we also urge legislators to pass bills that would create more full-time jobs for building service workers, strengthen our state’s historic defense of immigrants, and expand on criminal justice reforms. Their constituents deserve a fair hearing and fair vote on all these concerns.”
“The SEIU State Council stands with workers across Connecticut in demanding that our legislature defend them from the anti-worker, anti-immigrant assault from Washington,” said Rick Melita, Executive Director of the SEIU State Council. “A recent poll suggests that most Connecticut voters support not only lifting the minimum wage, but also back the basic rights that the bills we collectively support would provide.”
“The healthcare workers at 1199 support the entire pro-worker legislative agenda, including the need to promote pay equity,” SEIU 1199 spokesperson Jen Schneider said. “Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; for African American women and Latinas, it’s even less. Paying women less than men for the same work is not only unfair but it is detrimental to our economy as women make up a large part of our workforce. By creating a level playing field for women we can correct this injustice and boost our economy. This year Connecticut has the chance to make things right and pass the pay equity bill which helps ensure women get paid equally as men.”
“AFSCME Council 4 fully supports the pro-worker agenda to raise workers’ wages, ensure that all workers are paid equal wages for equal work, and brings stability to workers in their employment. The corporate conservative agenda we’ve seen pushed by members of the legislature and a CEO Commission takes spending power out of the economy and cuts the wages of working people. This agenda does the opposite and will help spur the economy while raising the standard of living for working families,” said Sal Luciano, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 4.
“These common sense proposals would help lift wages and standards for working people across the state,” said Lori J. Pelletier, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “Just last week, OxFam International released a report that found more than $8 out of every $10 created last year went to the richest 1%, so it’s about time workers get a raise. This is the prescription for economic growth in the state. It not only makes sense, but it’s the right direction for Connecticut.”
The sentiments extend to all workers trying to make ends meet, as those involved with the Fight for $15 attest.
“For the past three years I’ve only ever received a raise when the state minimum wage has gone up, and even with those small increases it’s still been impossible to afford to rent an apartment and cover my day to day expenses,” said Richard Grimes a Hartford Burger King worker making $10.10 an hour. “Last year the State Legislature failed to pass a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage. Our elected officials now have another opportunity to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage bill that would lift thousands of struggling, working families out of poverty.”
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 4,500 in Connecticut, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country and one of the largest unions representing immigrant workers in the country.