HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – This year was an important legislative session for Democrats.
They were able to raise the minimum wage and get paid family leave, however, there was quite a bit of resistance from some businesses.
On the 12th floor of an office building in Hartford, employees at CareCentrix take calls. It’s one of two call centers the company has in the city, while also having an office in Stamford.
Six years ago, the health care provider made a bold move.
“There’s a lot of hardworking folks who we knew, we worked beside every day, who were having a hard time surviving even though they were playing by the rules and working hard. That seemed unfair,” said John Driscoll. CEO of CareCentrix.
The company froze the salaries of 20 top executives to give more than 400 employees a raise. They went from minimum, or close to minimum wage, to $16 an hour.
Driscoll said the wage increase made employees feel more appreciated.
“It shows they are invested in you, not only as an employee, but as an individual and that they care about your well-being,” said Fais Siddiky, CareCentrix employee.
This year, Connecticut became the 7th state to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Raising the minimum wage was not as well received by other companies such as Quassy Amusement Park. The owner of the seasonal business says $15 an hour will cost them $36,000 more per year.
However, Driscoll said minimum wage earner are mostly adults and it’s not enough to live on that. Plus, salary and benefits are important to attract workers, but also keep them.
Unemployment is low, in the U.S., it’s 3.6 percent and in Connecticut it’s 3.9 percent.
Many businesses are struggling to find workers and turnover is expensive because they have to keep training new employees.
“Turnover is the enemy. When you’re bringing people in, you’re starting them from scratch as opposed to building them within the culture,” Driscoll said.
The minimum wage will start going up in CT this October. More than 300,000 people will be getting a raise.
It will take 4 and a half years to top out at $15 an hour.