“Connecticut just got a raise,” state Senator Julie Kushner told the crowd assembled this morning to watch Governor Ned Lamont sign into law a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Kushner, a retired union organizer, said that she has bargained contracts for five workers and 5,000 workers; however, “Never before did I have the experience of earning a raise for 332,000 people.”
Rep. Robyn Porter who, along with Kushner, spearheaded this year’s effort to pass the measure, said the struggle to pass this bill was a personal one for her.
“I have been that single mom working three jobs to take care of my kids,” she said. Referencing her defense of the bill during a marathon 14-hour debate on the floor of the House, Porter said, “I was going to stand for as long as it took, because I understood the difference this will make in people’s lives.”
Sixty percent of minimum wage workers are women, pointed out Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and many of them are the sole providers for their families. “Raising the minimum wage will address persistent pay disparities between different races and help bring us closer to eliminating the gender pay gap,” she said.
Fast food worker Angel Candelario said he and fellow advocates have worked toward the passage of this bill for six long, hard years. He thanked lawmakers for “doing what is right for the people.”
Governor Lamont said that workers advocating for an increase in the minimum wage, who were overwhelmingly female and people of color, have told him what an increase in the hourly wage will mean to them. “They’re working two jobs, and they said if the minimum wage was raised they could work a job and a half and be able to be there at the end of the day to spend time with their kids.”
“The passage of the $15 minimum wage bill will improve the lives of children and families across the state, and will have a positive impact on students in our classrooms,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “Family engagement is key to students’ success, yet many parents face obstacles, including working two or three jobs to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage will make a huge difference for many families and will allow more parents to fully engage with their children and their children’s education—paving the way for a brighter future.”
The new law requires the minimum wage to increase from its current level of $10.10 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.
Porter acknowledged that a $15 minimum wage is still not a living wage by most standards in high-cost-of-living Connecticut, but said that it’s an important step closer to that goal. “If we want strong communities in Connecticut, strong families are where we start,” she said.