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State Senate passes $15 minimum wage bill

Stan Simpson: Politics In Connecticut

HARTFORD — Connecticut senators voted early this morning to raise Connecticut’s hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour in five yearly steps by June 1, 2023.

After a six-hour debate, the Senate passed the minimum wage bill on a party-line 21-14 vote at 2:45 a.m. this morning. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Lamont, and the first minimum wage increase will take effect on October 1 of this year.

“Working people deserve to work with dignity,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven). “Over 300,000 hardworking people will benefit from raising the minimum wage, and I’m proud that Connecticut will join other states around the country in passing this legislation.”

“Connecticut needs to pay workers the wages they deserve,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “By raising the minimum wage, we are ensuring that more people are lifted out of poverty and are able to provide for themselves and their families. It’s the right thing to do and our economy will benefit from it.”

Sal Luciano, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO:

“After years of grassroots organizing, Connecticut will finally catch up to our neighbors – Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey – who have already passed a $15 minimum wage. We applaud the legislature for doing the right thing and raising wages for over 330,000 workers in our state.

“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).

“There’s an awful lot of talk in Connecticut about residents moving out of state. But what is often lost in the conversation is that 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.

“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. Raising wages will boost the Connecticut economy. We urge Governor Lamont to sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

Joseph Franklin, leader in Fight for $15 coalition and McDonald’s worker in Hartford:

“When fast-food workers walked off the job nearly seven years ago demanding $15 and a union, nobody thought we had a chance. Now, Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the seventh state to pass a $15 minimum wage, and the fourth this year. Our movement is gaining momentum.

“A $15 minimum wage will give me the peace of mind to know that I won’t be scrambling to make ends meet at the end of every month. 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.”

SUMMARY:

House Bill 5004, “AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FAIR WAGE,” increases Connecticut’s hourly minimum wage from the current $10.10 per hour to:

  • $11.00 on October 1, 2019
  • $12.00 on September 1, 2020
  • $13.00 on August 1, 2021
  • $14.00 on July 1, 2022
  • and $15.00 on June 1, 2023

Tip Credit:

Current state law provides a “tip credit” to employers of hotel and restaurant staff and to bartenders who customarily receive tips. The tip credit allows employers to count these employee tips as a percentage of their minimum wage requirement, thus reducing the employer’s share of the minimum wage — as long as the tips make up the difference.

The new minimum wage bill freezes the employer’s share of these employees’ minimum wage requirement at their current values ($6.38 for hotel and restaurant staff, and $8.23 for bartenders), but the bill also requires the tip credit’s value to correspondingly increase to make up for the difference between the employer’s share and the bill’s minimum wage increases. Thus, it allows employers to count these employees’ tips towards the difference between the employer’s share and the increasing minimum wage, as long as the tips make up the difference.

Training / Youth Wage:

Today’s minimum wage bill also addresses the issue of so-called training or youth wages. Starting October 1, 2019, the bill changes the “training wage” that employers may pay to learners, beginners, and people under age 18. Current state law generally allows employers to pay these employees as low as 85% of the regular minimum wage for their first 200 hours of employment. Today’s bill eliminates the training wage exceptions for learners and beginners, and now limits the training wage only to people under age 18 (except for emancipated minors.) Thus, today’s bill requires learners and beginners who are at least age 18 to be paid the full minimum wage.

Today’s bill also requires the training wage to be the greater of $10.10 or 85% of the minimum wage, and it allows employers to pay the training wage to people under age 18 for the first 90 days, rather than 200 hours, of their employment.

ECI Indexing:

Starting on January 1, 2024, and on each January 1 every year after that, the bill requires the minimum wage to be adjusted by the percent change in the federal Employment Cost Index (ECI) for all civilian workers’ wages and salaries over the 12-month period ending on June 30 of the preceding year, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A history of the ECI can be found here: https://www.bls.gov/ncs/ncspubs.htm#tabs-2

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