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Editorial In Connecticut, every day is Labor Day

September 2, 2018

You probably won’t get another holiday off until Thanksgiving, so take a moment to contemplate the workplace this Labor Day weekend.

Your definition of evolving work conditions likely depends on your age. You may recall a time when the fax machine was the most transformative work invention since the quill.

Or you might not know what a fax machine is and mock co-workers who still talk into those clunky boxes with the curly cords.

You might prefer to contemplate the evolution of office equipment, or workplace fashion (who conned the world into believing neckties are necessary to cloak those hideous ... buttons? Discuss).

But we prefer to use this pause in the schedule to consider the state of the workplace in 2018.

It’s been a landmark year for public discourse of workplace rights, a time to take a stand against harassment in all its forms and elevate efforts to achieve pay equality.

One of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s successes has been raising the minimum wage, which the state achieved by gradually boosting it to $10.10 an hour last year.

Subsequent efforts to maintain the momentum stalled, leaving it to the next governor to side with the working poor or small business owners who say their businesses won’t survive the goal of $15 an hour. With 30 percent of workers in the state bringing home less than $15 an hour, the movement should not be ignored.

Our state lawmakers also made strides to address the gender pay gap. With the National Partnership for Women & Families estimating full-time female workers in Connecticut are paid 82 cents for every dollar that goes to men, Malloy signed a law that passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate. It prohibits employers from asking about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history during a job interview.

Republican Bob Stefanowski and Democrat Ned Lamont will distinguish themselves as gubernatorial candidates by their approaches to the state’s pension debt and union contracts. They also need to be leaders on how our community colleges and technical schools approach job training to ensure we maintain the momentum that recently brought the state’s unemployment rate to 4.4 percent, the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

For those not seeking higher office, there are ways to boost and protect the American worker this holiday, and in the days ahead. As you pick up a coffee or fill a tank of gas Monday, take note that the people on the other side of the counter are likely working for those minimum wages on a day intended to bring them a measure of relief.

When navigating through a construction zone on the highway, remember that how you tap dance on the brake and gas pedals is the definition of workplace safety.

And when you return to work, treat your colleagues with dignity.

When it comes to Connecticut’s recovery, we’ve all got a job to do.

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