Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Raise the Minimum Wage!

A proposal to raise the minimum wage in Connecticut by $1.50 over the next two years to $9.75 was debated before the State Legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee last week. More than 20 percent of people live in poverty in Connecticut, the richest state. Many are working at minimum wage jobs.

Before the hearing, supporters gathered to announce the Alliance to Make Work Pay, a coalition that will work to increase the minimum wage and ensure it is automatically adjusted to keep up with the cost of living.
Asia Avery, a 20-year-old student and restaurant worker said her minimum wage job makes it hard to meet tuition and car expenses.

“Raising the minimum wage will enable me to earn enough to fund my education, invest in my future, finish school and become a productive member of Connecticut’s workforce, giving back to our economy,” she explained.

The coalition includes businesses like Pixel and Light in Andover, whose owner Jay Kamins said: “as a business owner, it is important to me that our whole economy is doing well. When everyone has money to spend in the local economy, small businesses like mine do well.”

Increasing Connecticut’s minimum wage makes us more competitive in retaining workers in one of the highest cost-of-living states in the nation,” said Cathy Osten, Senate Chairman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. “Any minimum wage hike is also plowed right back into the local economy, helping local businesses survive and thrive. It’s a fair and economically sound public policy.”

Opponents of the bill, including the restaurant industry and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, claim that raising the minimum wage creates a climate that is "not friendly to business." This argument has been used against every pro-worker legislation for decades, although no negative effects have been proven.

Executive Director of Connecticut Working Families Lindsay Farrell said, “Connecticut is the richest state in the richest country, but more and more families are falling in to poverty. We need to raise the minimum wage to combat the most extreme economic inequality in the country.”

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