Lindsay Farrell of the Connecticut Working Families Party says increasing the minimum wage for workers, including tipped workers, will help lift families out of poverty
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.
At the time of this broadcast, Connecticut is poised to have the highest minimum wage in the country. It’s poised to pass a $10.10 minimum wage after already having the fourth-highest minimum wage in the country.
Now joining us to discuss this is our guest, Lindsay Farrell. She’s the executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party.
Thank you so much for joining us, Lindsay.
LINDSAY FARRELL, STATE DIR., CONNECTICUT WORKING FAMILIES: Thanks for having me.
NOOR: So, Lindsay, we know that last year Connecticut passed about a $9 minimum wage. And this move to pass this $10 minimum wage is kind of unexpected. But your governor, Dan Malloy, picked up on this after Obama’s speech in February. And, you know, at the time of this interview, the bill just passed the Senate. It’s likely to pass in the House in a few hours, and the governor may sign it as early as tonight. Talk about your response. We know the business community was opposed to it, especially around provisions for the wages for tip workers, and we know the federal minimum wage for tip workers is really, really low. It’s around $2. But they were able to secure a minimum wage increase as well, a fairly substantial one, compared to that federal minimum wage, at least. Give us your thoughts.
FARRELL: Sure. We’re really fortunate here in Connecticut this year to have leaders who have taken President Obama’s encouragement to pass a $10.10 minimum wage and just run with it. So as we sit here right now, the House is debating the bill. The Senate just passed it 21 to 14. And Connecticut’s going to be the first state with a $10.10 minimum wage.
You were right. The business community sends a lot of lobbyists to fight this kind of thing every time it comes up. But the tone around these issues in Connecticut and in the country right now has just been no match for their lobbying efforts.
You know, we’ve come out of a series of fast food strikes and post-Occupy, you know, 99 percent world, and people are understanding that inequality is a real problem. It’s particularly a problem in Connecticut. And that’s why our legislators are feeling the pressure to do something and to pass a higher minimum wage.
The tipped workers specifically were taken out of the bill last year. The tipped wage was changed so that they would not see an increase. And we were able to organize with some tipped workers and fight back against that so that tipped workers in Connecticut are going to see an increase the same way that everybody else who works for minimum wage will.
NOOR: And so, you know, this will give workers about a $10–sorry–a $1 increase, which is, like, a modest increase. Is that $10.10–is that a living wage in the state of Connecticut? Can a family or can people live off that and afford rent and health care and everything else people need to survive?
FARRELL: Right. Well, you know, a lot of the conversation is about raising the minimum wage to lift people out of poverty. In some cases that’s true. The poverty level for a family of three, for example, is just a couple of hundred bucks less than $20,000 a year. If you’re working full-time for $10.10, then you’re going to be making over $21,000 a year. So for some families, this will actually lift them out of poverty. But, again, it is–you know, it’s a really important step. It’s a crucial step in the right direction for wages. But, you know, there is more that we do need to do in addition to raising the wage to $10.10.
One of the bills that we’re supporting here at the state legislature this year would hold large profitable employers accountable to a higher wage standard for businesses of $500 or more. They would be expected to pay either the standard wage, which was a little higher than the minimum wage, or pay a fee to the state to subsidize the cost of social assistance programs that their employees rely on, because they just have outsourced their employment costs to those taxpayers.
So we’re really excited about the minimum wage being raised to $10.10. That’s a huge improvement, and it sets a really crucial floor. But there is more to do to make sure that more families can be brought out of poverty.
NOOR: Lindsay Farrell, thank you so much for joining us.
FARRELL: Thanks for having me.
NOOR: Lindsay Farrell is the executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party.
You can follow us @therealnews on Twitter. Tweet me questions and comments @jaisalnoor. And go to TheRealNews.com for all of our coverage around the fight to increase the minimum wage.
Thank you so much for joining us.
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