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Proponents of CT striking workers’ bill eye next session as Lamont issues expected veto

FILE: 2023: Disappointed in Lamont's veto, Ed Hawthorne, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, seen above speaking at a press conference as 17,000+ members of SEIU 1199 New England prepared to strike, said “This is a fight for work for every working American out there that is struggling to get by and looking to get what they deserve in the workplace so that they can keep up with inflation, that they can put food on the table, and they're not choosing between a medical bill or paying the power bill.”
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
FILE: 2023: Disappointed in Lamont's veto, Ed Hawthorne, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, seen above speaking at a press conference as 17,000+ members of SEIU 1199 New England prepared to strike, said “This is a fight for work for every working American out there that is struggling to get by and looking to get what they deserve in the workplace so that they can keep up with inflation, that they can put food on the table, and they're not choosing between a medical bill or paying the power bill.”

Governor Ned Lamont has vetoed a bill that was supposed to provide millions in state aid to help workers on strike, prompting mixed reactions from lawmakers and disappointment from the largest union in the state.

Lamont returning the bill to the legislature without his signature was expected. The governor voiced his disapproval of the measure – which was crafted late in the regular legislative session – a day after its final passage.

In his letter Tuesday, explaining the move, Lamont said the bill lacked transparency and didn’t explicitly outline how up to $3 million within the General Fund would be utilized – or overseen – to help low-income workers.

“It does not outline the criteria for eligibility or the specific types of assistance that will be provided,” Lamont’s letter to Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said. “Without clear goals or metrics for success, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of this initiative in addressing the needs of low-income workers.”

This is not the first time the Connecticut legislature has considered this issue. Other state bills considered this year, and in 2022 and 2023 proposed giving workers unemployment insurance after being on strike for more than two weeks.

Ed Hawthorne, president of the state’s largest labor group, Connecticut AFL-CIO, was among the labor leaders who expressed disappointment over how this would affect people pushing for a better working situation.

“This is a fight for work for every working American out there that is struggling to get by and looking to get what they deserve in the workplace so that they can keep up with inflation, that they can put food on the table, and they're not choosing between a medical bill or paying the power bill,” Hawthorne said.

He pointed to New York and New Jersey which have similar laws on the books.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said that they plan to focus on the issue again next year, “with a renewed focus on passing the original version of this bill” from 2022.

“These workers often sustain hardships due to the painful decision to strike, which this bill sought to address and ease,” they said in a joint statement.

Senate Republican leader Stephen Harding, Sen. Rob Sampson and Sen. Eric Berthel applauded the veto.

“Senate Republicans exposed how Democrats voted ‘yes’ on a bill which made a mockery of the legislative process while endorsing more fiscal mismanagement and another attempt to go around the fiscal guardrails,” they said in a written statement.

As of Tuesday, Lamont has signed over 170 bills into law, and vetoed two.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.