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Will Connecticut Go Robin Hood on Low-Wage Bosses?


Will Connecticut Go Robin Hood on Low-Wage Bosses?

Michelle Chen

As state legislatures across the country buckle down for funding battles, sometimes it seems miraculous that they ever find enough tax revenue to fund anything: Every budget is a litany of imploding pensions, overcrowded classrooms, and dilapidated clinics—never enough money to go around. But lawmakers in Connecticut just found some in the coffers of its richest corporations.


“The policy may be criticized for grabbing hard-earned profits from corporations and shoving it into Big Government. However, one could counter-argue that the state is actually just intervening to correct a market imbalance: the ill-gotten gains of mega-companies that fail to live within their means and hoard public wealth—not just through social welfare, but also corporate tax breaks and tax-code loopholes.”

Well-said, Ms. Chen!


As well intentioned as it is, I’m actually really disappointed by the clumsy imprecision of this policy/tax, and it’s apparent disregard for the rights & independence of low-wage workers. Food benefits, Section 8 housing, etc are band-aids for a systemic wound that doesn’t just need to be perpetually patched up by a massive state bureaucracy - it needs to be healed by raising the minimum wage to a living wage of $15/hr.

The reality of a parent working a full time job (often two) and still not making enough to live on is fundamentally indecent and immoral - an exploitation I’d argue constitutes a violation of human rights. To ignore this strikes me as callous; why instead force full time workers to depend on state charity? Why lose so much of those funds to administrative costs- or as is the case with food benefits (SNAP)-to private corporations paid to administer state programs?

If we have the will to make a change, let’s make it right: put those dollars back where they belong - in the pockets of the workers.


Well said, MatthewSmith. If a big box store can pay an extra dollar per hour as a tax to the state, why would it pay more than a dollar an hour to raise wages to a livable standard? This solution only prolongs the pain, and pisses off big corporate donors, who will retaliate in some shape, way or form. The State of Connecticut is basically saying, “We’re going to help you be less treacherous.” Why not just raise the minimum wage in the first place?


The low wage employer fee they will try to use to justify visa-enabled guest workers working for minimum wage or less. Their employers will be responsible for their housing, likely. What i am saying is that people who bury their heads in the sands about these trade negotiations on a “plurilateral” agreement on trade in services are in a sense falling into a trap.

Raising minimum wages right now may be seen by the WTO as a gambit to keep out businesses who will be legally entitled under GATS or its progeny, TISA to do these jobs if they are the lowest qualified bidders.

““Exports of services can take different paths. To illustrate,
a U.S.-based software company can export its products
via the Internet (‘cross-border trade,’ known as mode 1),
provide training to its staff based in Spanish-speaking
countries in Panama (‘consumption abroad,’ mode 2), sell
service contracts through a Japanese affiliate (‘commercial
presence,’ mode 3), and employ a Dutch national with
an H-1B visa at its headquarters (‘movement of natural
persons,’ mode 4)” (US Chamber of Commerce 2014,
paragraph 6). This categorization drives home the unique
attributes of services as compared to goods.”

We need to be aware of this huge “labor mobility” or “mode four” push under WTO.

Negotiations have been going on in Geneva for eight years under the aegis of a quasi WTO “Friends of Services” or “Real Good Friends of Services” group. The deal that emerges has also been called many different names… “Plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement” or “Trade in Services Agreement” are two examples.

There is a huge push on the US right now to open up mode four.

One low skill person person’s “skilled employment” may be seen by another as a low paying job.

One high skill person’s skilled employment may be seen by somebody else, fresh out of college as an entry level job that doesn’t pay enough for them to pay back their college loans.

The problem is, somebody else with no debt would like to do that job for much less. And a multinational company would like to tag on 30 or 40 percent, or more.

And the financial motive is high to use the North/South divide as a way to drive the wages of both downward in what amounts to a global race to the bottom.


“Why not just raise the minimum wage in the first place?”

“Trade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to
glaze over, but we should all be paying attention.”
— Joseph Stiglitz