Today, Tuesday April 8th, community members, labor and poverty advocates, members of the clergy, and elected officials will gather and hold ‘Vigils for inequality’ in towns and cities across Connecticut. This statewide day of action will highlight growing inequality in Connecticut and demand action to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the rich.
“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.”
Twenty-four vigils will be held in towns and cities where poverty has increased, according to a recent report from 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 vigils nearest you will take place in Bridgeport at the McDonald’s on 1900 Fairfield Ave. at 6 pm; Fairfield at the McDonald’s on 1835 Black Rock Turnpike at 7 pm; and Stratford at Paradise Green at 5 pm.
“As long as the minimum wage is inconsistent with a living wage, more and more people will have to rely on government assistance to survive,” said Tyson Toller, a certified EMT and former Walmart employee who will be attending the Fairfield rally.
Matt Waggner, who is exploring a run for State Representative and will be attending the Fairfield vigil said, “We have to speak up about income inequality, not just for our neighbors who struggle to make ends meet on less than a living wage, but for successful people who still can’t dream of retiring and young adults who aren’t able to start their careers. The inequality crisis and the jobs crisis are one and the same.”
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.
“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.”
Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, with some of the most extreme economic inequality. Bridgeport, Connecticut is one of the most unequal areas of the country, comparable to developing countries in the difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.
“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.”
But the good news is that we can do something to address this widespread problem. The Connecticut Generally Assembly is considering several bills that can help build a fair economy and help alleviate poverty. 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).