#HARTFORD, CT – On Thursday, April 28th, advocates for fair wages in Connecticut presented an invoice for $486 million to a local Walmart on Flatbush Avenue. The invoice represented the annual cost of low-wage jobs to Connecticut taxpayers, who foot the bill when large corporations like Walmart pay wages so low that their employees must rely on public assistance to support their families. The advocates called for these companies either to pay fair wages to their workers or to contribute to the state’s costs for public assistance to working families.
Paul Filson, Director of SEIU State Council, stated, “Every year, Connecticut taxpayers are stuck paying for the poverty-level wages of big corporations. It’s time that the state recognized that it shouldn’t be subsidizing the profits of McDonald’s, Walmart, and others, and that these wealthy corporations need to pay their fair share.”
During the event, advocates and allies of the Raise CT campaign referenced The Public Cost of Low-Wage Work in New England , a study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley. The study calculated that wealthy corporations, like Walmart, cost Connecticut taxpayers $486 million dollars annually for the state’s share of the costs for federal public benefit programs. They described the harmful impacts of the low-wage business model on both underpaid workers and other Connecticut residents.
Lindsay Farrell, Executive Director of Connecticut Working Families, agreed, “In a time when we face an annual budget crisis but large corporations are costing us hundreds of millions of tax dollars annually, we should reject these greedy business models that hurt Connecticut’s most vulnerable families. We need to create an economy that works for everyone.”
Richard Grimes, an employee at this Walmart stated, “Corporate CEOs make thousands of dollars an hour, all we’re asking is that they pay their fair share. It’s time Connecticut realized these corporations are profiting off the backs of hardworking families and taxpayers.”
The advocates called for Connecticut to join New York and California by passing a $15 minimum wage and for legislators to support SB 391, the “Low Wage Employer Fee” bill. This legislation would require large corporations to make a choice: either pay decent wages or contribute to the state’s costs for public assistance for working families. Workers described how, if they were paid higher wages, the state’s economy would benefit from their increased spending to support their families. Advocates described how, alternatively, contributions by large corporations to help cover the costs of their low wages could help alleviate the state’s budget crisis and protect state services that are critical for low-income working families.