Labor and Public Employees Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE, REMOVING THE MINIMUM WAGE TIP CREDIT, AND INCREASING PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO PAY THE MINIMUM WAGE.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Labor and Public Employees Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
Assist minimum wage earners in Connecticut by raising minimum wage by $0.75 in 2012 then by another $0.75 on January 1, 2013, after that tying the minimum wage to the consumer price index.
Changes the increase schedule so that the minimum wage goes up $0.50 on January 1, 2013 and then again by $0.50 in January 1, 2014. Following the second increase, the minimum wage will be tied to the consumer price index. The bill also adjusts the tip credit making no change to bartender wages but giving a slight increase to server wages.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Teresa C. Younger, Executive Director, PCSW:
Executive Director Teresa Younger spoke in support of the bill. Increasing the minimum wage and indexing will keep wages on pace with the real cost of living. The current minimum wage leaves a full time worker very close to the federal poverty level for a family of three. Raising the minimum wage will significantly impact women in Connecticut because 33.5% of women earn a wage of $17,499 a year. We need to give workers the ability to support themselves if we want them to succeed.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Christopher G. Donovan, Speaker of the House:
Speaker Donovan spoke in favor of the bill, as it will help hard-working families and stimulate our economy. This is a form of economic stimulus that will not add to our state's debt. Many other states are considering raising the minimum wage.
Stacey Zimmerman, SEIU:
Stacey Zimmerman testified that this bill is in the best interest of the state to provide standards that boost the floor for working families. Raising the minimum wage will help create an economy that works for the citizens of Connecticut.
Eva Lister testified as a college-educated single mother in favor of the bill. Raising the minimum wage would make a big difference in helping her family weather this tough economy. This bill will provide a more just and dignified standard of living for families.
Lindsay Farrell, Connecticut Working Families:
Lindsay Farrell testified that Connecticut needs to protect our middle-class jobs and lift families out of poverty. She believes increasing the minimum wage will do just that. Raising the minimum wage is a necessary step towards rebuilding Connecticut's economy.
Lori J. Pelletier, Connecticut AFL-CIO:
Lori Pelletier spoke in support of the bill. An increase in the minimum wage puts additional income in the hands of workers who are likely to spend that extra money. An increase in minimum wage provides an excellent stimulus for the economy; betters the lives of minimum wage workers, and their families are better off and does not cost jobs.
Rev. Joshua Mason Pawelek:
Rev. Pawelek testified that higher paid workers are more satisfied, loyal, motative and productive. We need to live in a state where wages keep pace with inflation and fewer workers live in poverty.
Ms. Rios spoke to the point that people are falling behind and if the minimum wage is not raised soon we will continue to fall behind. It is impossible to get ahead on the minimum wages we are receiving currently. I am lucky if I finish most months without going into debt.
Ms. Hall testified in favor of the bill. If the minimum wage is raised I know I will be more financially secure and make a difference on what my family is able to spend on clothing, food, and other necessary items.
Ellen Small Billard, Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs:
Ellen Billard testified that the families that we encounter are working minimum wage jobs and struggle to pay their bills. Many states have raised their minimum wage and workers have been able to take home an additional $700 per year.
Connecticut Association for Human Services:
CAHS supports this bill. An automatic index to increase the minimum wage with inflation is critical for healthy families and communities through out our state. Minimum wage at this time is below poverty and 70% of those workers are older than twenty.
Barbara Stasiak, Owner, Bridal Bells Boutique:
Barbara Stasiak testified that she challenges any business owner to live on the present minimum wage. As a business owner I know how hard my employees work so I feel they should be paid fairly. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do.
Kris Hoskins, Arrow Window Shade Manufacturing Company:
Kris Hoskins testified that this bill needs to pass so that our workers will not have to make the choice between feeding their families and keeping the lights on. Business owners want loyalty but they need to realize that loyalty is a two way street.
Ms. Sanchez spoke in favor of the bill. As a minimum wage worker and the sole breadwinner for a family of five every dollar is spent on my family here in Connecticut. My pay has never risen above minimum wage and there is no bright future. Increase the minimum wage because there are too many families in poverty.
Nicole Andrews testified that a part-time worker that is not allowed to work more that twenty seven hours a week I get more than minimum wage but it is not enough to cover all my expenses and I so must work a second job. Raising the minimum wage would benefit working people like me and the whole state.
Tanvir Chandlry testified in favor of the bill. Minimum wage workers come from all parts of society and levels of skill. This bill is good for Connecticut's families, our state's economy, and it is the fair thing to do.
Mr. Velez testified in support of the bill. I work in a retail store and my hourly wage has barely risen a dollar above the state minimum in the last two and a half years that I have worked there. It is difficult to find better work in this economy and I won't rise to a middle class position without a raise in the minimum wage.
Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance:
This bill will help move low-wage families to greater economic security. Connecticut's
minimum wage has not kept pace with the actual cost of living. Increasing the minimum wage will stimulate the economy and make a big difference in the lives of working parents and their children.
Foundation for Fair Contracting of Connecticut:
We support this bill in the construction business. Our industry has three and four year apprentice programs and apprentices are paid minimum wage if the prevailing wage does not apply. A minimum wage worker makes about one thousand dollars per year below the poverty line for a family with two children. We need to help our ailing workforce and create standards to break the cycle of poverty
Arin Dube, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst:
Professor Dube testified that he and his colleagues do not find any evidence that raising the minimum wage leads to reduced employees' hours or the loss of jobs. This same pattern holds even for minimum wage increases implemented during recession.
Ethan Oliver, Student:
Ethan Oliver submitted testimony in support of the bill. This bill will allow people to make more money so that they can buy necessary items. More people will stop receiving welfare as they will make more money and could purchase items.
Kevin Sheehan, Student:
Kevin Sheehan testified that by increasing the minimum wage more people will be able to pay for school and spend more money there by helping the economy.
Alice Hu, Student:
Alice Hu submitted testimony that this bill will help those families in Connecticut that depend on the minimum wage to earn more money to pay for their bills, food, clothes and other necessities. Raising the minimum wage will strengthen the economy.
Margot Dorfman, U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce:
Margot Dorfman spoke in support of the bill. My members are women and mostly small business owners who know that paying higher wages is economically realistic. Small businesses are hurt by weak consumer spending and raising the minimum wage will give the economy a boost. This bill will help many working women.
John Maher, Berlin Spirits:
Mr. Maher testified that increasing the minimum wage will keep good, hard working employees loyal to good employers and it will level the playing field in the state. When workers earn more the spend more.
Jamey Bell, Connecticut Voices for Children:
Jamey Bell testified that Connecticut must ensure its minimum wage keeps up with the cost of living. The State's minimum wage has declined relative to the upper and middle tiers of the wage scale. Indexing the minimum wage to inflation will ensure that the economy regains momentum.
Paul Sonn, National Employment Law Project:
Paul Sonn testified that this bill will help workers who are spending their careers in low-wage jobs making and only the minimum wage. Most of these workers are adult women and adult people of color. This bill will help to even out the significant wage gap and get larger chain employers to do their part.
Douglas Hall, Economic Policy Institute:
Douglas Hall testified that this bill will dramatically help many lower paid workers in the state. Raising the minimum wage you would benefit Connecticut's children and help their families who live in poverty.
Johnny Williams, Trinity College:
Professor Williams testified that the bill will increase consumption and grow the economy. Studies indicate that this is the best time to raise the minimum wage because workers with more money to spend increase demand for goods and services.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Jeff Pugliese, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce:
Jeff Pugliese testified that the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce membership believes this is the worst time to raise the minimum wage. This bill will not encourage growth and will force us to hire fewer people in our grant programs.
Henry Talmage, Executive Director, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association:
Henry Talmage, Executive Director, testified that this bill will impact farmers greatly and will put us at a competitive disadvantage. The bill will affect sales, distribution, trucking, equipment sales, and other support services.
Stan Sorkin, President, Connecticut Food Association:
Stan Sorkin testified that it is not the time for this bill. Retail sales are not strong and this bill sends a message that Connecticut is not competitive in attracting jobs. This bill would leave our industry with no choice but to cut jobs.
Kia F. Murrell, Connecticut Business Industry Association:
Kia Murrell testified in opposition to the bill. The bill will significantly increase costs for employers at a time when many can least afford it. This bill will jeopardize the delicate economic recovery due to increased labor costs when they need to grow and create jobs.
Robin Wilson, Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce:
Robin Wilson testified that this is the wrong time to mandate large wage increases given the state's economic challenges and high level of unemployment.
National Federation of Independent Businesses:
The National Federation of Independent Business submitted testimony against the bill. Raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses and their workers. Unemployment is still high and this will cause more small businesses to close their doors.
Stephanie Nicholson, Owner, Fireside Brick Oven Creation:
Ms. Nicholson spoke in to the point that this bill will double her payroll for servers causing her to cut back on employees and then she would not have enough staff to run her business, putting her out of business.
Randy L. Rianhard, Franchise Owner, Duncan Donuts:
Mr. Rianhard testified that the proposed bill will make it impossible for his businesses to survive. He cannot afford to increase the minimum wage and remain profitable.
Donald Tuller, President, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association:
Donald Tuller, President testified saying the bill will be damaging to all Connecticut Farmers and will increase unemployment because they will no longer be able to afford to hire as many workers.
Mr. Scacca testified in opposition to the bill as it will adversely affect our business by increasing our labor cost over $189,000 per year. The bill will force layoffs and hurt our employees.
Connecticut Restaurant Association:
The Connecticut Restaurant Association opposes the bill. Restaurants in Connecticut employ over 145,000 people and operate on a profit margin. This bill will increase their costs and cause damage to an already fragile industry.
Robert Savin, President, Savin Foods:
Mr. Savin believes that this bill will have a dramatically negative effect on his business and make him increase his costs to the consumer. The consumer will stop spending and slow the economic recovery.
Shawn Reilly, Eli's Restaurant Group:
Shawn Reilly testified that this bill is not going to change minimum wage workers lives for the better. The bill will only increase our costs and we will have to increase our prices which will not allowing us to grow.
Steven Kassman, Rein's NY Style Deli-Restaurant:
Steven Kassman said that the bill will force us to increase payroll costs and we will have to look to out-sourcing some of our products to reduce labor cost. The bill will not help our customers, business, or employees.
Anthony Sullo, Joeys Restaurant Group:
Anthony Sullo testified that the bill will cause us to raise our prices, cut jobs and cause an impossible economic climate.
Mr. Mesite testified that this bill will further strain our struggling businesses locally, nationally and all over the world. Passing this bill will be a gamble if you think it will stimulate the economy and put more money in the consumer's pocket. In the long run businesses will close or have to layoff employees and unemployment will rise.
Connecticut Lodging Association:
The Connecticut Lodging Association testified that this bill will require the lodging industry which is already facing financial issues to resort to layoffs.
Lynn Ward, President, Waterbury Regional Chamber:
Lynn Ward, testified that by passing this bill you will be sending the message to both businesses and prospective hires that Connecticut is not a business friendly state.
David McCoart, Sage American Grill:
David McCoart testified that the bill greatly affect my some-what seasonal business by impacting how many summer employees I may higher. The bill will increase yet another cost of doing business in Connecticut.
Phillip Barnett, Hartford Working Restaurant Group:
Phillip Barnett testified in opposition that the bill is so devastating to the restaurant industry that many restaurants will be forced to close if this bill passes. The bill will increase the already high cost of doing business in this state in an industry that can't afford any additional expenses.
Tim Adams, J. Timothy's Tavern:
Tim Adams testified the bill will significantly impact the cost of doing business. We are already challenged in what is undeniably one of the least business friendly states in our country. This bill will increase our labor costs and therefore make us raise our prices limiting those people that will be able to use our services.
Irene Pia, Chili's Grill & Bar:
Irene Pia testified this bill is the most damaging proposal to the hospitality industry that we have seen. Raising the minimum wage will force closures and a loss of hundreds of jobs. Passing this bill would do more harm that good.
Priscilla Harnesk, Cold Stone Creameries:
Priscilla Harnesk testified that if you pass this bill you will put low wage earners out of a job when you should be trying to make them more valuable employees. This bill will continue to place the burden of caring for Connecticut's citizens on the backs of businesses. The state needs to find a real solution to helping minimum wage employees with training and education that will make them valuable to their employers.
Scott Lawton, Barcelona Restaurants and Bar Taco Restaurants:
Scott Lawton submitted testimony that the bills problem is not the minimum wage but the elimination of the tip credit. The bill will increase the pay of the highest paid employee and not the employees who really needs the assistance.
Reported by: Pamela Bianca