Safe jobs are every worker’s right

Workplace deaths and injuries that are as common as they are horrific should be the long-gone legacy of a 19th century textile mill. But they remain a terrifying reality today. Every day, 150 American workers die from on-the-job accidents and illnesses, while thousands more are injured. This is a travesty.

Employers are the key to developing workplace harassment solutions

The workplace is shifting, and it’s clear that what has been tolerated in the past will no longer be acceptable. That’s a good thing. Everyone deserves to work in an environment where they feel safe, and employers must be part of the solution. As it stands now, Connecticut is a leader in creating safe workplaces. Our sexual harassment prevention training laws are some of the most stringent in the nation, and we should all be proud of that.

Connecticut can’t afford NOT to pass paid family medical leave

I am writing to counter recent arguments that Connecticut’s economic woes mean that we can’t afford to pass ‘compassionate’ bills like House Bill 5387, AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE, despite strong bipartisan support inside the legislature and outside in the real world. Frankly, I am surprised by the lack of vision shown by opponents of the bill. How can we move forward and build our economy without creative solutions? The House passed HB 5386 last week by a vote of 142-4 and I would urge the Senate to move quickly to send it to the governor’s desk.

Equal Pay Day ignores some statistical truths

Equal Pay Day arrived for women this week. According to gender rights advocates, a woman must add to her 2017 income almost three and a half months of work in 2018 to make as much as a white man made in 2017. In other words, a woman in Connecticut only makes 79 percent of what a white man makes in income. Black and Latina women are even more disadvantaged. Black women make only 58 percent, and Latina women come in last at 47 percent. For some inexplicable reason black men don’t seem to be counted.

The red herring in the Fiscal Stability Commission’s impressive report

With the many and varied issues the state of Connecticut currently faces, our legislature can ill afford wasting time on any issue that will not contribute to immediate fiscal relief or long-term fiscal health.  The new report issued by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth outlines a number of critical issues that demand action, all intended to improve the state’s fiscal standing. Unfortunately, the report also includes suggested changes to collective bargaining for public employees: changes far more likely to distract from larger problems than to result in significant savings to the state.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty — Champion of women’s rights

When Donald Trump became President, liberal Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty proudly donned the symbolic pink hat, becoming a fierce member of “The Resistance” to protest the ascent of this evil misogynist.   As the #MeToo movement  — a reaction against male sexual assault — gained steamed, she tweeted  “As a young intern and an attorney, I saw and experienced my fair share of harassment in the workplace. I know how traumatizing, isolating, and painful harassment can be. I understand what that does to one’s work environment.”

The past as prologue: Remembering why we need collective bargaining

It was revolutionary for its time. Enacted in 1935, the National Labor Relations Act gave workers in private industry the right to organize and collectively bargain. For public employees, however, there is no such federal right. Each state determines whether to allow its public employees to collectively bargain. For four decades after the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, Connecticut did not negotiate with its employees on issues ranging from working conditions and wages to pensions and health care. The results were disastrous.

Can Connecticut regain its former glory?

As the gubernatorial campaign heats up with dozens of candidates, we’re hearing plans and promises to restore Connecticut to its former glory. Yet none of the candidates so far give any evidence of careful study of our distress — nor any evidence of being familiar with the well developed field of municipal and state economics and fiscal policies. So a new governor is likely to be more of the same. Regaining our past glories will be a matter of decades.

Paid family leave could potentially attract more people to Connecticut

Many members of the General Assembly have promised to address the state’s declining population through public policies that both keep people here and attract newcomers, but we have yet to see much in the way of concrete solutions that aren’t going to cost the state money we don’t have. But one solution that has the potential to improve the state’s economy, draw in and keep talent, all at little to no cost to the state government, is paid family and medical leave.

Reform for Connecticut’s pension system

Recently I wrote about the difficulty, even impossibility, of funding Connecticut’s ever-growing pension liability. The article elicited a number of comments, and all agreed that something must be done. Here are my own recommendations for reform. First, a relatively small but significant first step in reforming the system would be to freeze pension benefits for all existing state employees not covered by union contractual obligations. These employees would include non-union members and employees of the state’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It would also include all administrators in the University of Connecticut system.

A $15/hr wage will foster economic growth in Connecticut

The majority of workers in Hartford and other Connecticut cities are paid less than $15 per hour. That information is found in a 2016 report of the Boston Federal Reserve. An even larger percentage of women and persons of color in those cities earn less than $15. Surprisingly, more than 30 percent of all Connecticut workers earn less than $15. Who are low-wage workers? They are home health and nurse aides, substitute teachers and classroom assistants, fast food and other food service workers, ticket takers, ushers, dishwashers, janitors, cleaners and housekeepers, Bradley airport baggage handlers, cashiers, retail clerks, child-care workers, hotel desk clerks, and dozens more.

Support a pro-worker agenda for economic growth

Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the 2018 legislative session in Connecticut, and a new opportunity to steer our state in the right direction. To that end, the Connecticut Working Families Organization released its 2018 legislative agenda, a series of concrete and common sense policy recommendations designed to spur economic growth by empowering workers, reducing inequality, and increasing regional competitiveness. For Connecticut’s economy to grow, we need to create the conditions that make success possible for the vast majority of working class families in our state, just as many of our neighboring states have already done.