"Connecticut is a leader on economic issues, but there is much more we need to do," said Lindsay Farrell, executive director of Connecticut Working Families. "We were the first in the country to pass a statewide paid sick days law, and the first to raise the minimum wage to $10.10. We are holding these vigils for inequality because it is shameful that in one of the richest states, in the richest country in the world there are still families struggling to get by. We must do more."
The vigils were organized by a broad coalition including the Connecticut Working Families Party, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, local chapters of MoveOn.org, Service Employees International Union local 32BJ, AFSCME Council 4, and local community organizations.
According to CT Working Families, 24 of the vigils will be held in towns and cities where poverty has increased, based on the findings of a study by Connecticut Voices for Children. The study, released in January, has illustrated that this crisis is not limited to any particular region or urban center, but affects communities across the state in rural, suburban and urban areas, the group states.
"Everyone should be concerned with our state's growing economic inequality,” said Tom Swan, executive director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group. “That is why these vigils are so important. We need to continue pushing for policies that move our economy in the right direction."
CT Working Families pointed to a few bills before the General Assembly as signs of hope in closing the gap.
"These include holding large profitable corporations accountable (H.B. 5069), working to find a solution to student debt (H.B. 5241), and creating a public retirement savings plan so that everyone can retire with dignity (S.B. 249).
“I am proud of the steps we have taken to address the gender wage gap in Connecticut, including raising the minimum wage,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “About 6 in 10 minimum wage workers are women. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will improve the economic security of women and their families in Connecticut. But this action alone is not enough. It is unacceptable for women, doing the same work, to earn 78 percent of what men earn."
“The Gender Wage Gap study highlights how important it is for all of us to address pay inequality — from ending pay secrecy practices in the private sector to teaching women how to negotiate their compensation to encouraging girls in STEM," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. "There must be equal pay for equal work. It is a fundamental economic security issue for Connecticut women, their families, and the country.”
"Workers are struggling to make ends meet, pay for college, buy a home, and save for retirement," said Juan Hernandez, Director of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut, and Co-Chair of the Connecticut Working Families Party State Committee. "Their dire economic situation is a constant reminder that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. Our economy should work for everyone, not just the rich.”