Friday, July 22, 2016

Testimony in Bridgeport Calls for $15 minimum wage

Dozens of low-wage workers demanding Connecticut’s minimum wage be increased to $15 an hour testified at a hearing in Bridgeport called by the Low-Wage Employer Advisory Board.  The 12-member task force was created by the state legislature to study the impact of low wages.

A recent report from Economic Policy Institute shows the wealthiest one percent in Connecticut captured all the state’s income growth from 2009 to 2013. Connecticut has the second-highest income inequality, and Bridgeport has the second-highest among metropolitan areas nationally.

Richard Grimes, a homeless Hartford-area Burger King worker and member of the Fight for $15 said “I work for a multi-billion dollar company yet I make so little I cannot afford a place to live. Each day I have to decide between buying a meal and paying for the bus to get to work. A $15 minimum wage would change my life drastically.”

Raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift families out of poverty and boost the economy, bringing billions of dollars to Connecticut.

"Two out of three minimum wage workers are women, including single moms,” said Queen Freelove, a childcare provider in New Haven. "I make it possible for many of those parents to get and keep their jobs.  But many parents can't afford to pay much. No company should be allowed to pay their workers poverty wages."

Wages have stagnated for all workers, but those in lower-paying jobs have been hit the hardest.
State Senator Marilyn Moore, chair of the Human Service committee worked in a low-wage job at Target last summer. “The work is physically and psychologically demanding, and workers — many raising children — not only need but deserve a base of $15 an hour. It would dignify their labor, and ultimately benefit their employers and customers.” 

I have seen firsthand the erosion of the middle class in Bridgeport,” said State Senator Ed Gomes. “We need a minimum wage that can sustain adult workers and help them raise their families toward a brighter future. If low-wage workers have more money to spend in a town like Bridgeport, the ripple effect would benefit the entire economy.”

The Advisory Board is expected to make its recommendations in December.

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