Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

May 19, 2021

Senator Kushner Leads Senate Adoption of Labor Bills Strengthening Rights for Domestic, Green Energy Workers

HARTFORD – Today, State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, led the Senate’s approval of key labor bills seeking to ensure workers’ rights are upheld. One piece of legislation broadens the information domestic workers receive regarding job duties, providing these key workers with knowledge about their employment to better inform them; the other centers on the need for more renewable energy projects in the state that will provide good jobs with benefits for Connecticut’s skilled workers and encourage workforce development to ensure local hiring.

“Historically, new immigrants and Black and Brown workers have made up the majority of domestic workers so many Connecticut families rely upon to care for their homes and families. In many cases, these workers do not know what they’re entitled to under current Connecticut law,” said Sen. Kushner. “This bill provides organizational support to educate and train domestic workers and requires employers to provide a written description of the hours of work and expectations of the employer upon hire. This bill is exciting, because it’s innovative. We will utilize existing organizations – trusted organizations, organizations that already doing the work to, in essence, partner with the state to get the word out about wage and hour laws, as well as to assist workers in filing claims if there is a problem. This puts the state in better position to make sure domestic workers are being treated fairly and have opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t know they had.”

Senate Bill 943, “An Act Requiring Employers To Provide Certain Information To Domestic Workers At The Time Of Hire And Establishing An Education And Training Grant Program For Domestic Workers,” requires employers of certain domestic workers – including housekeepers, home management, child care, laundering, meal preparation, home companion services and caretakers – to receive key information upon their hiring about their pay rate, hours of employment and pay schedule. The bill requires employers to inform workers about: job duties and responsibilities, availability of sick leave, rest days, vacation, personal days and holidays; and whether they will be charged for board and lodging. This is in addition to existing law requiring information on wages, vacation pay, sick leave and health and welfare benefits, among others.

The legislation further establishes a domestic workers education and training program for these workers, assisting qualified organizations such as nonprofits working with domestic workers in providing education and training for both workers and employers, online resources for domestic workers and their employers, and technical and legal assistance to domestic workers and employers through legal service providers.

Domestic workers are often women and people of color, working important jobs that keep households thriving across the state and that act to support the economy. These same workers are not covered under the National Labor Relations Act, holding back many workers from being fully informed on their rights. Senate Bill 943 changes this, empowering these vital workers with the skills and knowledge they must know to ensure their rights are not being violated.

Senate Bill 943 was approved by the Labor and Public Employees Committee by a 9-4 vote in March and by the Appropriations Committee by a 31-16 vote May 3. It now proceeds to the House.

“Moving to Green Energy is critical to the survival of our planet. With the growth of green energy in our state, it’s important to make sure our skilled workers are aren’t left behind. We’ve relied on this workforce for every major energy project in the past, this makes sure that these future jobs will be there for them, with good wages and good benefits,” said Sen. Kushner. “This bill supports workforce development for long-term growth in the industry; it supports our communities in making sure large-scale projects benefit the towns and cities they will take place in; it makes sure workers are paid well and fairly.”

Senate Bill 999, “An Act Concerning A Just Transition To Climate-Protective Energy Production and Community Investment,” requires the developers of renewable energy projects including projects supporting energy efficiency improvements, upgrades to building electrification, developing renewable energy or enhancing resilience against climate change, with construction costs and/or facility costs of at least $2.5 million, to meet certain requirements. A developer, under the legislation, must:

  • Enter a community benefits agreement with a community organization representing the host community’s residents. That agreement details the projects contributions to the host community and any aspects of the project that will mitigate adverse conditions in that host community, creating opportunities for businesses, communities and workers.
  • Ensure the establishment of a workforce development program, giving newly hired and existing employees opportunities to develop skills qualifying them for higher-paid jobs on covered projects. This can include apprenticeship training through state or federal agencies as well as pre-apprenticeship training enabling students to qualify for registered apprenticeship training.
  • Ensure each contractor and subcontractor involved in project building has necessary resources to perform portions on the covered project, has all licenses and certifications required, participates in apprenticeship training and has not seen major issues in previous projects in the previous three years. Contractors must also pay workers at least applicable wages for their classifications and will not misclassify workers as independent contractors.

Construction employees must also be paid at least the prevailing wage for their job classifications, with contractors required to submit monthly certified payroll records ensuring this pay rate, with failure to pay such wages resulting in fines or other penalties. Operations, maintenance and security employees of buildings must also be paid the standard wage for their job classifications.

Construction projects covered by project labor agreements are exempt under the legislation.

This legislation is intended to ensure the growing adoption of renewable energy in Connecticut dovetails with creating well-paying jobs in that industry. It prepares workers by training them and developing their skills, creating a talent pipeline as green energy continues to expand in use and popularity; it also ensures the industry develops fair-paying positions and community-oriented practices supporting not only the state’s workers but the public and environmental health of Connecticut as a whole.

The legislation passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee by a 9-4 vote in March. It now proceeds to the House.