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March 8, 2018

Malloy backs labor fairness agenda

Gov. Dannel Malloy, who vowed in his final State of the State address to pursue a “Connecticut fairness” agenda this legislative session, went to bat Thursday morning for a slate of bills addressing employee compensation and benefits.

That legislation is scheduled for a public airing at 2:30 p.m. by the Labor and Public Employees Committee. The proposals would expand the state’s paid family and medical leave requirements, mandate anti-harassment training at many companies, raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, and bar employers from requiring prospective hires to disclose previous salary information before making a job offer.

“A fair workplace means an employee should not come to work sick or fear losing their job if they don’t come to work sick,” Malloy said Thursday.

The governor said women in Connecticut are paid on average 82 cents for every $1 a man earns, with a wider gap for women of color.

“These loss of wages mean women have less money to support themselves and their families,” he said.

Malloy said the anti-harassment legislation is meant to “spark a substantive dialogue about respect, boundaries and basic human decency” that spans “from the mail room to the board room.”

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said the bills are well timed, coming on the heels of the launch of the "Me Too" movement last year, which saw business executives and celebrities alike toppled by accusations of harassment and rape.

“Women across the country are holding their legislators accountable and turning out in record numbers to run for office and make their voices heard,” Wyman said.

The bills Malloy and Wyman are backing include House Bill 5044, Senate Bill 15, and House Bill 5043.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association released its testimony on the bills Thursday morning, ahead of the public hearing.

The business lobbying group says it’s against raising the minimum wage and expanding the state’s 2012 paid leave mandate. CBIA this year has instead testified in support of a different bill that would offer a tax credit to companies that provide paid leave voluntarily.

On tightening rules about salary disclosure, CBIA said businesses ask for that information from prospective hires to gauge if their pay rates are competitive and to form an employment offer that has the best chance of luring that worker.

“In either case, this information is not being used against the applicant,” CBIA lobbyist Eric Gjede wrote.

CBIA said Connecticut businesses with 50 or more workers are already required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors. While the association said it appreciates the intent of the proposal, it said such training is costly, creating concern that requiring all employees at companies with 15 or more workers receive it would be a burden.

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