Feb. 6, 2018 — The Connecticut Working Families Organization released its 2018 legislative agenda, a series of concrete and common sense policy recommendations designed to spur economic growth by empowering workers, reducing inequality, and increasing regional competitiveness.
Connecticut Needs to Empower Working Families & Reduce Inequality
For Connecticut’s economy to grow, we need to create the conditions that make success possible for the vast majority of working class families in our state, just as many of our neighboring states have already done. That means passing a $15 living wage, earned family and medical leave, and predictable scheduling legislation so that families can have the stability and security they need to succeed.
Increase the Minimum Wage to $15. It will help stimulate our economy by putting more money into the hands of workers who spend it – locally. It is now law in New York, and it is the right and fair thing to do.
Raising wages benefits us all. It gives consumers more spending power, which helps local businesses, pays local rents and mortgages, and gives people the income they need to be financially independent.
Implement Earned Family and Medical Leave. No one should have to choose between their health and paycheck. But too often, families are forced to choose between tending to a spouse or parent with an unexpected medical emergency, or keeping their job and health insurance.
It comes at no cost to the state, despite the misinformation spread by the state’s business lobby, and would help keep our workers financially independent. An employee funded program would be good for business, particularly for small businesses struggling to compete with larger corporations. It’s also the law in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, making our state less attractive to millenials and young families.
Pass Predictable Scheduling Legislation. Throughout Connecticut, thousands of low wage workers, many earning poverty wages, struggle to earn a stable income because of unpredictable work schedules. Employees are often forced to work with little notice, maintain open availability for “on-call” shifts without any guarantee of work, and have shifts cancelled at the last minute.
Our economy and public health suffer when workers cannot predict their hours or pay from day to day, make time for schooling or childcare, secure a second job, or qualify for promotions to full-time employment. New York City has passed legislation to end this practice, and New York State is considering it too.
Connecticut must address the low-wage job sector boom
Almost half of all jobs created since the start of the economic recovery have been in low-wage industries, such as retail and fast food service, which pay less and lack the benefits, predictability, and flexibility of jobs past. This makes our families less economically secure, puts a greater strain on state budgets, and makes workers less able to contribute to state budgets and local businesses.
Workers of color are filling the most vacancies in the low-wage industries that have driven the state’s job recovery, but at a dangerous cost: Since the start of the recovery, racial and ethnic wage gaps have widened, forcing full-time workers to resort to public assistance programs.
Pass a Low Wage Employer Fee. We must hold large corporations accountable. Companies like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart employ workers below a living wage, turning them onto state assistance. Our state must end this form of corporate subsidy, so that companies either pay living wages or help fund the programs on which their workers depend. Our state can also prosper by closing corporate loopholes that prevent large companies from paying their fair share, as well as ending unfair tax giveaways and incentives. That is money we can better invest in our people.
Connecticut must build a diverse and flexible economy
Close Corporate and Carried Interest Tax Loopholes. Let’s stop relying on massive corporations and the finance industry to fix our economy. Throwing millions of dollars at a single business to keep 100 employees is not the best use of resources. Hedge fund and private equity managers should pay the same tax rates as ordinary taxpayers. And large corporations should stop profiting hand over fist from lucrative tax subsidies and by paying poverty wages.
Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the nation, but also suffers some of the highest income inequality. We can fund a brighter future by asking our wealthiest citizens to pay their fair share, such as what New York does with its millionaire tax and what Massachusetts does with its capital gains tax.
Unlock the Bond Lock. At a time when Connecticut needs to modernize its crumbling infrastructure, and restore funding to its health and education programs, the “bond lock” ties the state’s hands for a decade.
Rebuild our Infrastructure. We must rebuild our crumbling bridges and roads, while working to alleviate growing traffic congestion. Today’s young workers are looking for areas with high quality and convenient public transportation systems. By advancing our infrastructure into the 21st century, we can create quality jobs while making Connecticut a more convenient and attractive place to live.
Connecticut must catch up to its neighbors
Connecticut cannot cut its way to prosperity and cannot compete with race-to-the-bottom tax policies.
Connecticut is losing its millennial workers and young families to neighboring states with better funded cities and smarter, more progressive policies. Companies are seeking those workers and are flocking to the vibrant spaces where they want to live. In order to develop high quality jobs, our state needs to invest in its cities and in the kinds of services young people are seeking. This includes better funding for public education and making college affordable. Next door, New York has already taken a major step ahead by implementing tuition-free college.
The Connecticut Working Families Organization is a grassroots political organization that fights for economic and racial justice. CT WFO is training the next generation of progressive leaders to office, and fighting for and winning public policies that make a difference in the lives of working people, from winning paid sick days laws and minimum wage increases to retirement security, and diminishing the influence of money in politics. The WFO’s progressive candidates pipeline is recruiting, training and electing the next generation of progressive leaders.