We received more than 50 responses from members of businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. Legislators pay closer attention when business people contact them, especially in such large numbers.
Here is the text of the emailed letter that was sent last week:
April 30, 2018
Dear Representative Berger,
The Waterbury Regional Chamber, its affiliates the Naugatuck Chamber and Watertown Oakville Chamber, and our nearly 1,000 member businesses in 14 communities in Greater Waterbury continue to be concerned about several bills raised being considered in the current legislative session. We vehemently oppose any legislation that will adversely affect businesses and worsen the state’s difficult business climate.
The bills listed below are especially vexing to our members, and 50 of them have signed this email as a way to express that concern and demonstrate to you the depth of opposition in the business community. These businesses are from a host of industries and sectors throughout Greater Waterbury (and beyond), and include everything from large corporations to sole proprietorships, and from healthcare providers to retail outlets. Yet they stand as one in opposing the bills listed below.
Therefore, the Chamber and member signees of this letter strongly urge you to oppose the following:
Paid Family & Medical Leave (SB 1 & HB 5387): These bills would require $13.6 million in startup costs and $18 million in ongoing costs, according to the state Office of Fiscal Analysis, money the state cannot afford to spend. The amount the bill requires to be deducted from employee wages each pay period also is far below what is needed to sustain the program’s proposed benefit levels. It also requires small businesses to continue providing nonwage benefits to an employee who may be absent for up to three months, while paying overtime and/or for a temp worker to do the absent employee’s work. No other state’s Paid FMLA law offers a benefit as generous as what is proposed here, and it dramatically expands FMLA to even the smallest of businesses, which would be the most adversely affected. In addition, the definition of who constitutes a “family member” is broadened to include anyone “whose close association … is equivalent of a family member,” which would take the “family” out of the bill to include almost anyone.
Paid Sick Leave (HB 5044): This bill proposes expanding the state’s paid sick leave mandate to businesses with 20 or more employees — including manufacturers and certain nonprofits, which were previously exempt. The bill also changes the definition of a “child” from an individual under 18 years of age to one who is under 26 — beyond the age commonly considered adulthood. Expanding the mandate represents a significant additional cost to every Connecticut business, which will adversely affect the state’s economy and discourage job growth.
Harassment Training Mandate (SB 132 and HB 5043): Requires businesses with 3 or more (SB 132) or 15 or more (HB 5043) workers to provide harassment training every 5 years to all employees, not just supervisors as required under current law for employers with 50 or more workers. Estimates of the cost to businesses every five years exceed $130 million (the rate for harassment training is $100/employee, with 1.3 million employees to be trained statewide). The bills also do not adequately define “employee” or what “pattern of sexual harassment” means, which could lead to unintended consequences and costs.
$15 Minimum Wage (HB 5388): Increasing the wage will cause businesses to consider automation or leaving positions unfilled; the proposed rate is also especially punitive for small “mom & pop” retailers and restaurants. State’s current rate is already in the Top 10 nationwide.
Captive Audience (HB 5473): This bill, which is likely unconstitutional, would prohibit employers from requiring employees to attend any meeting the employees deem “political” in nature, which could include discussion about legislation or regulations that directly impact the business and the employees’ jobs.
At a time when companies large and small are looking for stability and affordability to compete, sustain and grow in Connecticut, these bills and their workplace mandates are ill-timed and ill-advised and should be emphatically rejected.
Thank you for your consideration.
David Krechevsky, Director of Public Policy & Economic Development, Waterbury Regional Chamber
Lynn Ward, President & CEO, Waterbury Regional Chamber
Lori DosSantos, Chairwoman, Watertown Oakville Chamber
William J. Palomba, Vice Chairman-Public Policy, Waterbury Regional Chamber, and Blasius Chevrolet Cadillac, Waterbury
Frederick W. Blasius, Blasius Chevrolet Cadillac, Waterbury
Frederick W. Blasius Jr., Blasius Chevrolet Cadillac, Waterbury
Ralph Biondi, Biondi & Rosengrant LLC, Waterbury
Barbara Branagan-Mitchell, Branagan Communications Consultants LLC, New Milford
Rosemary Briglia, Senior VP/Senior Retail Banking Officer, Thomaston Savings Bank
Richard Bushka, Bushka Lumber and Millwork Co., Waterbury
Matt Byrne, Minuteman Press, Waterbury
Timothy Carr, Principal, Down To Earth, LLC, Naugatuck
Julie Clark, President & CEO, Natural Health & Wellness, Middlebury
Ben Cohen, Acute Care Gases, Wolcott
Robert Cordeau, President, C&H Electric Inc., Waterbury
Francis Delaney, President, West State Mechanical Inc., Torrington
Bob Dickson, Dale Carnegie Training, Naugatuck
Dr. Michael Flanagan, Urology Specialists PC, Middlebury
George Frantzis, Owner, Lake Quassapaug (Quassy) Amusement Park, Middlebury
Donald Gamsjager, DNR Laboratories, Watertown
Justin Golden, Golden Technology Services Inc., Southbury
Peter Hughes, Hughes Insurance, Prospect
Paula Jensen, Hearing, Balance & Speech Center, Waterbury
Robert LaBonne Jr., LaBonne's Markets, Watertown
George LaCapra Jr., UniMetal Surface Finishing LLC, Naugatuck/Thomaston
Dr. Christine Lathuras, Sunrise Family Dental Care, Waterbury
Nancy Ligi, Jimmy’s (Restaurant) of Watertown
Raymond Manzi, Raymond E. Manzi Associates LLC, Woodbury
Pam McKernan, R.E. Holdings LLC (Reliable Dental Care), Waterbury
Dr. York Moy, Urology Specialists PC, Middlebury
Nancy Newman, A Secret Garden Floral LLC, Waterbury
Selim G. Noujaim, Noujaim Tool Company, Waterbury
Alex Osowski, Watertown Auto and Truck Part Inc.
Michael Patenaude, Attorney at Law, Southington
Dr. Sagar Phatak, Urology Specialists PC, Middlebury
Lon Polveri, R.E. Holdings LLC (Reliable Dental Care), Waterbury
Susan Powers, Sandler Training, Southbury
Gene Rella, Jupiter Electric, Beacon Falls
Edwin Rodriguez, Director of Development, St. Vincent DePaul Mission, Waterbury
Carmen Romeo, President, Fascia’s Chocolates, Waterbury
Sharon Rouleau, Urology Specialists PC, Middlebury
Stewart Rosen, Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe, Waterbury
Scott Sambrook, Connecticut Seal Coating Inc., Bethlehem
Chris Scyocurka, Managing Partner, Green Earth Energy Photovoltaic, East Windsor
Dr. Stephen Siegel, Urology Specialists PC, Middlebury
Craig Strull, Vice President, Founders Technology Group, Southington
Megahann Theriault, Rozzi’s Restaurant, Thomaston
George Touponse, Long Horizon Development LLC, Bethlehem
Jack Traver Jr., President, Traver IDC, Waterbury
Jason Van Stone, Director of Marketing, OptiCare Eye Health Centers, Waterbury
Charles Veronneau, Veeco Electric, Waterbury