Labor Panel OKs Wage, Work Safety Bills

March 18, 2019

Rep. Robyn Porter, co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, praised committee members who approved legislation that raises the minimum wage, addresses the issue of pay equity for para-educators and sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Raising the minimum wage is going to benefit hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut; especially people of color. Not for nothing, Connecticut’s working people came out to the public hearing, they spoke and we heard them. It’s not what they want, it’s what they need,” Porter said Monday.

“I mean think about it. Today’s minimum wage workers make less per hour than their counterparts did 50 years ago,” Porter said. “In fact, the economy has grown drastically over the past 50 years thanks to workers producing more per hour, nearly doubling productivity since the late 1960s. Not to mention, if the minimum wage had been raised commensurate with production, it would currently be over $20 an hour. Certainly, our economy can at the least afford a $15 minimum wage.”

Porter also believes that raising the minimum wage will move the state forward. “It’s a fact, wage growth equals economic growth. A higher minimum wage will increase worker retention, worker morale and worker productivity. It will empower people and communities by helping to lift workers out of poverty. It will also increase workers’ spending power and reduce income inequality.

As a result, businesses will experience an increase in their bottom lines due to an influx of disposable income being spent in local communities, which will inevitably give Connecticut’s struggling economy a much needed revenue boost. Truly, this will be a win-win for everyone because it will reward the honest and hardworking people and businesses in our state,” she said.

The legislation would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, effective Jan. 1, 2020. On Jan. 1, 2021, the minimum wage would increase to $13.50 and to $15 on Jan. 1, 2022.

In addition, Porter said para-educators play a critical role in the classroom and that also needs to be reflected in their pay. “Para-educators are an integral part of the classroom, particularly in large classes with special education and ESL students,” she said. “They are on the front lines in some of the most challenging classroom settings, giving teachers crucial assistance in their times of overwhelming need. Clearly, there should be equity in what we pay them so that their earnings are consistent with the added value they bring to the overall learning process.” Porter quickly added, “I am also pleased that policies regarding sexual harassment prevention training and complaints and calculations for damages and corrective actions are being sought in the legislation that came out of committee.”

Bills approved by the committee last week:

  • SB 2, An Act Increasing The Minimum Fair Wage
  • HB 5004, An Act Increasing The Minimum Fair Wage
  • HB 7224, An Act Concerning Paraeducator Pay Equity
  • HB 7044, An Act Concerning Sexual Harassment In The Workplace