Connecticut joins $15 minimum wage states parade
Fight for $15 CT Facebook page

HARTFORD, Conn.—By overwhelming votes in both houses of the legislature, Connecticut became the fourth state this year to join the parade of those raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Adding it to the others – New Jersey, Illinois, and Maryland – plus 16 other states and 40 cities means 30.6% of minimum wage workers in the U.S. will now have higher minimums than the federal level of $7.25 hourly.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to sign the bill, which will benefit at least the 330,000 minimum wage workers in the Nutmeg State – and possibly others, too, to keep them ahead of the state minimum.

The state AFL-CIO, the Fight for $15 and a union movement and the National Employment Law Project all hailed the hike, which will start with a 90-cent raise this fall from the state’s current minimum of $10.10. The wage will reach $15 on Oct. 1, 2023.

“A $15 minimum wage will give me the peace of mind to know I won’t be scrambling to make ends meet at the end of every month,” McDonald’s worker Joseph Franklin of Hartford, a leader in the state Fight for $15 campaign, told the state fed. “I’ll be able to afford the bus ticket I need to get to and from work during the day — without wondering if it means that I won’t be able to put food on the table that night.”

“By joining together, speaking up, and going on strike, workers like me have turned $15 from a dream to reality for millions of workers across the country. We’ve shown that $15 an hour is the absolute bare minimum working people need to get by today, and we’re going to keep on fighting and striking until we win $15 and union rights all across the country.”

Congressional GOP hatred of workers has prevented the federal minimum wage from rising for a decade. Now, the new Democratic-run House is working on an increase, with jousting over details between its progressive and moderate wings.

“Research shows that workers need $15 an hour or more just to cover the basics, and workers with families need more. By raising the minimum wage, the legislature is providing a life-changing boost for home care, airport, fast food, and other low-wage workers struggling on barely $21,000 a year — and that’s if they are lucky enough to be full-time,” said state AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano.

“There’s an awful lot of talk in Connecticut about residents moving out of state. But what is often lost…is most of the people who move out are low-income workers who leave for a better paying job. The vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will help keep our wages competitive with other states and help keep more working people here.” New York and Massachusetts have already passed $15 minimum wage laws.

“Workers who earn more pay more in income taxes, spend more disposable income in the local economy, and are less reliant on safety net services, saving taxpayer dollars for other investments,” Luciano added.

After the state minimum reaches $15, future raises will be indexed to inflation. The one flaw in the Connecticut bill, NELP said, is no hike in Connecticut’s current “tipped minimum” for servers ($6.38 hourly) and bartenders ($8.23).

Nevertheless, NELP Executive Director Christine Owens said the Connecticut hike means at least $68 billion more has been funneled into workers’ pockets since the start of the Fight for $15 and a union among New York City fast food workers in 2012.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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