Deja Vu All Over Again for Labor Committee Bills
If proposals being raised in the legislature’s Labor Committee seem familiar to you, that’s because many of them are being recycled from past years.
For example, despite Connecticut’s prolonged period of high unemployment, the committee raised two reruns of controversial bills in a meeting last month:
- SB 387 would raise Connecticut’s minimum wage again – which studies have shown increases the cost of labor and leads to a loss of entry-level jobs (Deja vu: similar measures have been raised four times in the last seven years)..
- HB 5756 requires businesses receiving economic assistance from the state to pay food, building, and maintenance workers (whether employees of the business or not) an above-market wage for 10 years from the date they received that economic assistance (Deja vu: the same proposal was raised last year)..
That was just the start: The committee raised many more familiar and harmful bills at its next meeting, including some long-time committee favorites—as can be seen by their constant reappearance:
- An Act Concerning Additional Requirements for an Employer’s Notice to Dispute Certain Care Deemed Reasonable for an Employee: Removes an employer’s ability to contest an employee’s course of treatment under workers’ compensation unless it could be asserted that the treatment amounted to medical malpractice (Deja vu: Similar to HB 5249 in 2009 and SB 61 in 2010; the same as SB 986 in 2011).
- An Act Concerning the Use of Criminal Conviction Information, like proposals to ban the use of credit reports in hiring situations, further restricts the information employers can use to determine whether a prospective employee is suitable for hiring (Deja vu: HB 5521 in 2009; HB 5207, SB 399, HB 5060 and HB 5061 in 2010; HB 6641 and SB 361 in 2011).
- An Act Concerning the Definition of Independent Contractorsand An Act Concerning Homemaker Services and Homemaker Companion Agencies; Enables the state Labor Department to chip away at an individual’s right to perform work as an independent contractor (Deja vu: SB 330 from 2012, SB 385 which was killed by the committee in 2012).
- An Act Concerning Employee Access to Personnel Files: Allows only a very short time period for employers to provide personnel files to employees, or former employees, on request; and expose employers to liability for the contents of those files (Deja vu: HB 5235 in 2012).
- An Act Amending the Definition of Managerial Employees, An Act Concerning Charter School Employees, and An Act Concerning Collective Bargaining with Probate Court Employees, three separate bills designed to unionize the remaining non-union public employees and reduce Governor Malloy’s ability to address the state’s labor costs (Deja vu: Similar to HB 6545 in 2009, HB 5058 in 2010, and SB 937 in 2011).
Time for change
While most of these concepts die on the calendar year after year because they lack merit, businesses take note of the message the bills send.
All too often the Labor Committee doesn’t make the connection between their proposals and the state’s inability to generate consistent or strong job growth.
When businesses both in and out of state talk to each other, the phrase “ABC – Anywhere but Connecticut” is too commonly used. The business community would like to see that change.
CBIA urges the Labor Committee to abandon proposals that would clearly set our business climate and economy back, and instead focus on measures that would help employers create jobs in Connecticut.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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