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August 19, 2016

Working Families promises another attempt at low-wage bill

HBJ File Photo Public safety employees plan to rally against proposed budget cuts.

Connecticut Working Families on Friday launched a petition asking Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to support a bill that would make large corporations pay a fee for employing low-wage workers.

The small third party, which recently cross endorsed five legislative candidates in summer primaries, issued a challenge to the governor to resurrect legislation that would levy a fee for hours worked at less than $15/hour at large, profitable companies.

Connecticut Working Families Party Director Lindsay Farrell said big box and fast food chains are underpaying workers. Similar bills have not passed in the most recent two legislative sessions, but the party said it isn’t giving up. It wants to try again in early 2017, along with a measure raising the base wage to $15 an hour for every worker by 2022, she said.

“We would like to hold these profitable corporations accountable because they’re outsourcing their employment costs to the state and don’t pay a living wage and provide benefits,” Farrell said. “It’s a burden on working families and small businesses who are essentially subsidizing the profits of these large employers.”

It’s not the first time such a bill has been proposed

Addressed to Malloy, the petition states: “83,000 Connecticut families are living in poverty while working full time at stores, like Walmart and McDonald's. These workers are exploited, and the services they then rely on are a string on our state budgets. This isn't right. Make huge corporations pay a Low Wage Employer Fee. They can afford it and it will help our economy.”

In an email, Malloy Spokesperson Chris Collibee called the petition "interesting and surprising...especially when you consider this governor's first-in-the-nation minimum wage increases, that he was first to enact paid sick leave, welcomed Syrian refugees when others wouldn’t, [and] fought for equal pay for equal work ...."

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said in a statement that penalizing companies to force wage increases is a “money grab” and not an acceptable solution.

“We don’t need a false economy,” Fasano said. “We need policies that attract businesses and allow jobs to grow. We need to create jobs in our cities. … We need to get government out of the way, reduce barriers and help our small businesses stay in Connecticut.”

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