Winfield and Colleagues Oppose Attack on Nurses, Teachers, and Firefighters
State Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) joined his colleagues at the Capitol today to discuss 96 bills being heard before the Appropriations Committee, all of which concern state employee pay and benefits.
The vast majority of these bills, proposed primarily by Republican legislators, attack rights for teachers, firefighters and other public sector employees.
“I think we come to this building to make people’s lives better. The 96 bills we see on the agenda of the appropriations committee this morning, I don’t believe do that. We’ve rhetorically turned our state workers into the enemy. We have decided that this is a conversation about takers versus makers, that this is a conversation about the union versus the tax payers, that this is a conversation about us versus them,” Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) said. “The reality is, that them is us, that them, they pay taxes. They do all of the things that anybody else in this state that makes up the rest of the tax-base do. What we are standing here saying is that we came to this building for a reason; it’s to make people’s lives better. And if we believe that state workers have something that other people don’t have, then the solution to that is not taking it away from state workers, but it’s to figure out how we give those things to other people.”
Senator Winfield was joined by Representative Robyn Porter (D-94), who organized the press conference, Senator Ed Gomes (D-Bridgeport), Representatives Edwin Vargas (D-6), James Albis (D-99) and Matthew Lesser (D-100).
“These bills are an attack on the working men and women in our state and hurting them will only make our economy more ineffective,” Rep. Porter (Hamden, New Haven), Co-Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee said. “We have a responsibility to protect our nurses—who care for us, our teachers—-who educate us, and our firefighters—-who keep us safe. I stand strong with my colleagues in opposing these bills and will continue to fight for the rights of workers and the middle class.”
“This is an attack on workers. Is anybody allowed to make a living? These people have given so much back, it is unbelievable,” Senator Ed Gomes (D-Bridgeport) said. “Let’s talk about Bridgeport, we live in the richest county in the whole country. We have 17 billionaires in this state and thousands of millionaires, who is attacking them? All we see is an attack on workers, somebody who comes to work every day, does their job. I just don’t understand it.”
“We have doubled up on our fight to protect our communities and the very core base of the people we serve,” said Rep. Edwin Vargas (D-Hartford). “While I understand the fiscal challenges we face, I am against balancing the budget on the backs of the hard working people of Connecticut. Let’s find new revenue sources that will benefit the entire state, instead of considering proposals that hurt our working class and our most vulnerable constituencies.”
“These bills are a race to the bottom for worker rights, wage and benefit precedent setting across Connecticut,” Rep. James Albis (D-East Haven) said. “How the state values these indispensable workers will be reflected on how the private sector, which mainly seeks to maximize profits, values them. We must ensure that livable wages and retirement plans are the rule and not just a rare exception.”
“Connecticut is not Wisconsin and I am stunned by the sheer number of attacks on workers’ rights this year,” Rep. Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown) said. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues and fight for Connecticut’s firefighters, nurses, teachers and everybody who works for a living.”