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Advocates in CT push for predictable hours, expanded sick time and expanded minimum wage for tip work

LOB Workers
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Emphasizing how the negative impacts of work-schedule instability go beyond the worker to harm their family, Dr. Daniel Schneider, social policy professor at Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Director of The Shift Project, speaks to the Labor and Public Employees Committee in favor of HB6859, a bill addressing schedule instability for workers.

Workers, union representatives and state legislators gathered in support of three bills to reform labor laws.

One proposal would bring tipped based wages for some tipped based workers up to standard minimum wage rates. Two other bills aim for more predictable scheduling, and expanding paid sick days.

Union members said approving these proposals is essential — particularly for server workers and bartenders.

Deshawn Brownell worked in the food industry. He said restaurant franchises abused the law against workers. Now he advocates for labor rights.

"When I became a manager, and I saw how they treated people and families—you can go out and get another job and whatever else, even though we don't wanna do that, but the time you can never get back," Brownell said Thursday at the capitol.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
Connecticut Public
Labor rights advocates gathered at a Legislative Office Building press conference to push for labor law reform.

In a press release, Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s vice president for public policy, Eric Gjede, argues that lawmakers should be helping small businesses, which represent the largest percentage of employers in the state.

Ed Hawthorne, president of the AFL-CIO of Connecticut, said the bills would provide a major boost to low wage workers who helped the economy during the peak of the pandemic. He highlighted that these workers are disproportionately women and people of color.

“All of these workers were deemed essential at the height of the pandemic and now they are facing skyrocketing inflation,” Hawthorne said. “Let’s raise their wages, give them predictable hours and give them time off when they’re sick.”

Ramón García, a worker advocate, said he used to work at a restaurant in Hartford, and saw employers take advantage of the law.

“It was barely a part time job,” Garcia said. “The wages were not sufficient to provide for myself and my family. And there were other people working there for over 10 years, because of their immigration status were getting paid $10 an hour.”

LOB Workers
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
State Senator Julie Kushner, Chair of the Labor & Public Employees Committee, listens alongside colleagues to testimonies regarding several bills focused on workers' rights.

“Small businesses continue to be disadvantaged by the state’s tax policies and bear a disproportionate burden of what seems to be a never-ending series of workplace mandates,” Gjede said.

State Sen. Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) said there’s support for these measures in the senate.

"Is very reasonable, is not gonna put nobody out of business, and it's really a worldwide approach to the problems to make it work for both the employers and the workers," Kushner said.

The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $14 an hour, and will increase on June 1 to $15 an hour.

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