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2019 Session: Wins for Workers

The Worker Bee, June 7, 2019

The General Assembly adjourned the 2019 legislative session sine die at midnight on Wednesday, June 5th. The so-called "long session" was a very successful one for working families and the Labor movement. After years of austerity budgets and dwindling pro-worker majorities, Labor advocates were able to take advantage of the 2018 election results and pass major legislation including HB 5004 which raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour and SB 1 which enacts a paid family and medical leave insurance program.

Many other pro-worker bills passed both chambers and are awaiting the Governor's signature, including:

  • SB 164 Provides workers' compensation coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for first responders.
  • SB 1115 Strengthens the Trust Act, prohibiting police and court personnel from enforcing civil detainers against undocumented workers unless they are accompanied by a warrant.
  • HB 7424 Implements the first state budget in many years that does not cut public services or mandate workforce reductions (see budget summary on page 2).
  • A number of state employee collective bargaining agreements and arbitration awards

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano issued a statement expressing gratitude to the General Assembly for focusing their efforts on working people, "Legislators from the majority party responded to the concerns they heard from working families in their districts during the 2018 campaign. They came together to hit the ground running in January and delivered on promises to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and establish a paid family and medical leave program. They also brokered a historic bipartisan compromise to provide PTSD coverage to our first responders. Workers who had been left behind in recent years of budget austerity and anti-worker sentiment will benefit immensely from the hard work of our legislature and Governor Lamont."

Despite some major wins, Labor did suffer a few disappointments. SB 440 protecting workers from coercion of employer speech and HB 6935 providing protections to public sector members and their unions after the U.S. Supreme Court's Janus v. AFSCME decision were both threatened with Republican filibusters and died in the Senate. Two bills aimed at limiting abusive employer "on call" scheduling practices, HB 6924 and SB 764, also died in their respective chambers. A full legislative summary is being compiled and will be shared in the next issue of The Worker Bee.

A veto session is tentatively scheduled for the third week of July, giving the General Assembly the opportunity to consider overriding any vetoes Governor Lamont may issue. Lawmakers are also expected to convene a special session on transportation infrastructure, tolls, economic development, bonding and school construction. A date has not yet been announced.

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