Labor Committee Proposals: Good, Bad, Recycled

Issues & Policies

CBIA testified on a number of potentially harmful proposals before the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee this week.

A number of these bills are recycled from previous sessions, including SB 938, which allows striking workers to receive unemployment benefits after being on strike for two weeks.

The proposal was first introduced in Connecticut during the 2022 legislative session.

CBIA’s opposition is based on the fact that if a worker is on strike, they meet none of the eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment benefits—namely, losing your job through no fault of your own, you are looking for work, and you are available for work.

Despite concerns that expanding benefits puts additional pressure on the state’s beleaguered Unemployment Trust Fund, the committee approved the bill Feb. 16 on a 7-4 party line vote

Noncompete Ban

Another past failed measure is HB 6594, which invalidates noncompete agreements unless a variety of conditions are met, including, but not limited to:

  • The employee is not a salaried worker
  • Employee subjectively believes employment ended because of good cause attributable to the employer
  • Employee doesn’t make at least three times the minimum wage, or is an independent contractor not making at least five times the minimum wage.

Every year, advocates tout studies showing that noncompete agreements stymie worker mobility.

They forget to mention, however, that such measures prevent an employer’s trade secrets, client lists, and proprietary information from being stolen and causing businesses great economic harm

The committee also approved this measure Feb. 16, again on a 7-4 party line vote.

Unions: Protected Class?

Also on the agenda was HB 6273, which requires that employers disclose salary ranges on public and internal job postings.

The bill is an unnecessary addition to last year’s change in the law that required businesses to disclose salary ranges upon an applicant asking or a job being offered to an applicant—whichever came first.

The most likely result of this proposal will be lost opportunities for job applicants that opt not to apply for jobs rather than have conversations with potential employers about salary and benefit options. 

HB 6285 makes it a discriminatory practice for an employer to ask an employee if they were ever a member of a union.

 A new, but troubling concept is HB 6285, which makes it a discriminatory practice for an employer to ask an employee if they were ever a member of a union.

In other words, this bill makes asking about an employee’s prior union membership, regardless of the question’s intent, akin to discrimination based on age, gender, race, disability, etc.

It does appear to be quite a leap, and unfortunately yet another effort to silence employers from speaking about issues related to organized labor. 

Positive Measures

While many recycled proposals opposed by CBIA reappeared on the committee’s agenda, there are indications new leadership wants to provide more opportunities to hear issues of interest to the business community.

For example, the committee agreed to hold a hearing on several positive measures, including SB 197, which reduces the burden on employers resulting from the state’s federal unemployment loan debt.

Connecticut borrowed nearly $1 billion dollars during the pandemic, which must be paid back by employers.

There are indications new committee leadership wants to provide more opportunities to hear issues of interest to the business community.

During the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, lawmakers appropriated $195 million to help reduce the principal on the loan and prepay the interest.

However, if more is not done, businesses will continue to see annual spikes in federal unemployment taxes, plus higher loan interest rates, until the debt is satisfied in 2026. 

The committee also agreed to hear SB 805, intended to uncover the root cause of data breaches that appeared to increase in frequency following the launch of the Department of Labor’s new online unemployment filing platform. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede


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