Big businesses could face fines for paying workers low wages

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s a hearing at the state capitol dealing with worker wages. Some lawmakers are trying to slap big businesses with a fine if they pay their employees less than $15 an hour.

It’s called the “low wage employer fee”. The businesses we’re talking about here are big corporations with over 500 employees like Walmart and McDonalds. Supporters say they should help the state pay for the services the state has to provide for those workers who make less than $15 an hour. So if this bill became law they would hand over a dollar to the state for every employee that makes under 15 bucks.

News 8 spoke with a member of the service employee’s international union who favors the law and the chair for the state’s Republican Party to get both sides of the issue.

“These workers depend on subsidies that the taxpayers end up paying like earned income tax credits or healthcare subsidies or rent subsidies or food stamps and there’s something wrong when someone works a full week and they can’t make it and they can’t support their family on it,” said Paul Filson, Dir. SEIU CT Council. “So this particular bill would say to these corporations you should give something back to the taxpayers. So, that we can have the programs that support working families like childcare support and healthcare support.”

“This isn’t going to help the average person on the street feed their family and so they’ll tell you that’s why they’re doing this ’cause we’re going to penalize people’, but the reality is it’s not helping anyone. It’s just helping the state meet the massive deficit that they have,” said J.R. Romano, CT Republican Party chair. He said it creates an unfriendly business climate.

“They are going to make things worse. So let’s take for example there’s a big chain restaurant or there’s a big company that wants to open in Connecticut. They’re not going to now,” said Romano.

Filson said he does not know of another state that has this law on the books, but says Colorado and Oregon are exploring it.

They plan to talk about it at noon Tuesday.

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