Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill Tuesday that will incrementally raise the minimum wage in Connecticut to $15 an hour.
The first raise is from $10.10 to $11 and that goes into effect on October 1, 2019. The wage will be $15 an hour by June 1, 2023.
“We’ve been working on this for – what was it? Five -- six -- seven years? We’ve tried and failed a couple of times and this year, we got it done,” Lamont said.
The signing ceremony at the Parkville Care Center in Hartford amounted to a victory lap for advocates of low-wage workers. They chanted “I believe that we will win.”
Angel Candelario spoke at the ceremony as a representative of a local chapter of the “Fight For $15,” a group that has argued for the minimum wage to rise to a “livable” level since 2012.
“I want to thank the people that gave me the opportunity to speak on the behalf of my brothers and sisters in our community to let them know that someone is out here fighting and going through the same equal struggle -- that nobody is going to stop doing what we doing,” said Candelario, who used to work at Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King.
Julie Kushner, a former a union organizer who’s now a state senator for Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Sherman, said she has experience negotiating higher wages for large groups of workers, but not this many people.
“Never did I have the experience of being part of winning a raise for 332,000 people and I think we can say that with the passage of this bill and with the signing today by our governor, Gov. Lamont, we can say together -- Connecticut just got a raise,” Kushner said.
According to the governor’s office, Connecticut becomes the seventh state to implement a $15 minimum wage. The District of Columbia has also passed the $15 minimum wage.
Advocates for small business in the state had urged the governor not to sign the bill -- saying companies will be forced to eliminate jobs because of the additional cost.
Exemptions from the rate increase include restaurant staff and bartenders who customarily receive tips.