Workers Should Vote For Their Interests
by Ana Maria Rivera-Forestieri
Working Families Party Board Member
If it hasn’t already happened, you can probably expect your boss to ask you to vote a certain way this election. Although it may feel like your employer is overstepping a boundary, it’s completely legal, even though it feels like unfair pressure from someone in a position of power over you.
Recently, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the state’s largest business lobby, which has announced a $415,000 expenditure to support predominantly Republican candidates for the state House and Senate, urged business owners to persuade employees to vote for candidates who put profits over people. “We’re not suggesting that employers tell their employees how to vote but that they inform them about what kinds of policy decisions can help their companies thrive and keep jobs in Connecticut, and which ones would have the opposite effect,” CBIA president Joe Brennan said. You don’t have to read between the lines to know that this thinly veiled attempt to swing the election in favor of Republicans does not help workers.
The CBIA-backed Republican proposal to grow the economy consists of a moratorium on any new laws that benefit workers and relies heavily on tax breaks to large corporations. They certainly do not have the interests of Connecticut’s workforce in mind. They’ve publicly opposed minimum wage increases and policies designed to protect workers such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave policies. These policies protect workers so they don’t have to choose between their health and a paycheck.
In this election, there’s a lot at stake for Connecticut’s workforce. When deciding your vote, you should find out which candidates want policies that are good for both businesses and workers and which policies are just good for corporations and a wealthy few. Your boss just might ask you to vote for the latter.
The CBIA wants to elect Republicans who will stop any minimum wage increase despite the benefits it can bring to our local economy. Raising the minimum wage spurs economic growth. When workers have more money to spend, they spend it at local businesses, keeping that money circulating in local communities.
Despite the fact that it poses no real cost to employers, the CBIA describes paid family and medical leave as an “one size fits all mandate that is not practical in the modern workplace.” Under the current proposal, the program would be fully funded through a small payroll deduction, only about one-half of 1 percent. The business risk is negligible and the benefits cannot be ignored. The program helps position small businesses to better compete with large companies that can afford to provide this security to their staffs. Unfortunately, many larger companies provide this benefit to only executives and management while shift workers are left unprotected.
The CBIA claims that a better business climate means a brighter future for everyone. In reality, they’re making it easier for large corporations to reduce their tax liability to the state, shifting the burden of sustaining our economy to small businesses and workers. They argue that by letting corporations pay less in taxes than regular, everyday people, we will all naturally benefit. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that there’s a clear connection between pro-corporate growth policies and lower quality of life for regular, everyday people.
In Connecticut, we’ve seen how this plays out — massive corporations benefit from huge tax breaks and pay low wages without benefits to employees who, despite working full time, have to turn to the state for health care and other services.
Connecticut’s workforce is one of the best in the U.S. And that’s due in large part to the state’s investment in real, everyday working people by passing laws like paid sick days and recent minimum wage increases. These policies help keep our workforce in Connecticut, and help our communities become stronger participants in our economy, making local communities and small businesses thrive.
The choice is clear this November. There are candidates who want to fix our economy just for a few of us and those, endorsed by the Working Families Party, who want to fix it for everyone.
Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri of New Haven is on the board of the Working Families Party.