Legislation suppressing workplace communications amounts to a gag order on employers and contravenes federal law, the state’s largest business organization said today.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee and Labor and Public Employees Committee are each pushing retread versions of past failed bills that restrict employer-employee interaction.

"The fact that some lawmakers keep pushing, year after year, a bill that clearly contravenes federal law is concerning enough," said CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima.

"That they're doing so at a time when employers—particularly small businesses—are struggling with the labor shortage crisis, inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and COVID is just offensive.

"Where are state lawmakers’ priorities? How does this bill reverse Connecticut's rapidly declining labor force? How does it fill the state's staggering 110,000 job openings?"

The Labor Committee's proposal is one of a number of costly new workplace mandates it introduced for the 2022 session.

The Judiciary Committee's version is outlined in SB 163, which the committee will hear at its March 4 meeting.

SB 163’s language mirrors that of previous failed legislation, which former state Attorney-General George Jepsen and former Obama administration National Labor Relations Board chair Philip Miscimarra both said preempted federal law.

CBIA vice president of public policy Eric Gjede said SB 163 restricts an employer's ability to discuss "political matters" in the workplace, allowing employees to leave any meeting they feel is "political."

"The term political is so broadly defined in this bill that it includes not just legislation or regulations, but also a business’ support of civic and community organizations,” he said.

"The legislation not only dictates how employers interact with employees, it reflects an adversarial attitude toward Connecticut businesses.”

Gjede also noted that the bill undermines government transparency and accountability, effectively silencing employer-employee communications about issues such as state contracting practices.

"The practical impact of this bill is that employers will never be able to hold a meeting and have honest conversations with employees without the risk of people walking out,” he said.

CBIA is Connecticut’s largest business organization, with thousands of member companies, small and large, representing a diverse range of industries from every part of the state. For more information, please contact Ali Warshavsky (860.244.1929).