Connecticut AFL-CIO 2018 Legislative Agenda

Workers’ Bill of Rights

In recent years, hardworking public and private sector employees have been deliberately scapegoated and maligned, while their rights have continually been threatened.  As a result, the middle class is rapidly shrinking and income inequality has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Working families are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. Wages are stagnant, employer harassment is rampant, family balance is a constant push and pull, affordable housing is scarce, higher education is priced out of reach and a secure retirement is a dream many will not be able to achieve. All the while, tax policy protects the interests of the wealthy, corporations and the investment class.

The General Assembly must do more to level the playing field and create an economy that works for all—not just those at the top.

The Connecticut AFL-CIO Workers’ Bill of Rights is a set of policy initiatives that, if enacted, will recognize and address challenges faced by tens of thousands of workers in order to rebuild the middle class, improve quality of life, grow our state’s economy and stabilize the state budget.

It’s time to put workers first.

1. Freedom to Join Together – All working people should be able to join together with their co-workers, free from employer intimidation and harassment, for better wages and working conditions.

  • Extend the right to organize
  • Prohibit coercive captive audience meetings
  • End worker misclassification

2. Collective Bargaining & Binding Arbitration – Workers who form a union still face attacks on collective bargaining and binding arbitration rights.  Legislative support is required to ensure workers have a seat at the table and a voice on the job.

  • Defeat so-called “Right to Work”
  • Protect workers’ rights in municipal oversight settings
  • Repeal the fund balance exemption for binding arbitration awards
  • Establish a mediation process to help new bargaining units reach agreement on a first collective bargaining agreement

3. Fair Wages – All workers should be able to earn a fair return on their work that allows them to support themselves and their families.

  • Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour 
  • Establish mechanisms to ensure gender-based pay equity
  • Protect prevailing wages for construction workers 

4. Paid Time Off and Predictable, Flexible Scheduling – Workers need to be able to spend time with family or take time to care for themselves or a loved one.

  • Enact earned family leave
  • Create protections and compensation related to on-demand scheduling

5. Fair Economy – Recent budgets have required painful sacrifices from workers and the poor while corporations enjoy lucrative tax incentives and the wealthy received outsized tax advantages.  

  • Close the carried interest loophole
  • Raise the income tax rate on those who earn $1M or more
  • Levy a fee on large, low-wage employers who use the public safety net to provide employee benefits

6. Worker Protections – Key safety, security and wage replacement benefits are important protections for workers, but more needs to be done.

  • Stop efforts to cut workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers
  • Reject attempts to reduce earned unemployment benefits 
  • Fully fund firefighters’ workers compensation claims for cancer
  • Require workers’ compensation to cover PTSD for first responders

7. Regional Government - For decades, the state has subsidized and incentivized inefficient, duplicative municipal government.  Local officials erroneously cite collective bargaining as an impediment to municipal cooperation and disingenuously shift blame to public employees for rising property taxes.

  • Require towns to explore savings via the state healthcare partnership
  • Establish meaningful county/regional government while protecting workers’ rights.

Click here for a 1-page printable version of the Connecticut AFL-CIO 2018 Legislative Agenda.