The 2018 General Assembly session has seen committee-level approval of a wide array of workplace mandates, any one of which, if passed, will make doing business in Connecticut materially more difficult than it already is.

Many of these measures—for example, the expansion of the state's paid sick leave law and the extension of harassment prevention training requirements to very small businesses—were motivated by good intentions.

And although CBIA has serious concerns about these bills because of their anti-competitive consequences, given national trends and rising awareness of issues like workplace harassment, it's not hard to understand what's driving them.

But one proposed mandate—An Act Concerning Captive Audience Meetings—stands out among the others because it reflects an adversarial attitude toward job creators in Connecticut, who are trying their best to be successful and grow and retain jobs in the state during very difficult economic and fiscal times.

Connecticut still lags the region and nation in jobs recovered since the end of the recession, with the latest employment report showing a loss of 2,000 jobs in March.

(While we have regained 101% of private sector jobs since the recession, that number remains well below most neighboring states and the country.)

It's an effort by the state to get in the middle of the employer-employee relationship, and there are few things employers find more offensive than that.
In addition, a report in March by the state Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth highlighted Connecticut's enormous fiscal problems and pointed to our underperforming economy as a major contributor to the state's ongoing budget crisis.

In times like these, we need to encourage employers to be here and grow; the last thing we need is to make them feel unwelcome or less positive about the state, which is exactly what the captive audience bill does.

The proposal—organized labor's highest priority this session—restricts employers' rights to bring employees together to discuss the pros and cons of joining a union during a union organizing initiative—a right explicitly granted to employers by the National Labor Relations Act.

Not only is the bill a direct assault on the free speech rights of employers and a clear violation of federal law, it represents an effort by the state to get in the middle of the employer-employee relationship, and there are few things employers find more offensive than that.


Joe Brennan is CBIA's president and CEO.