Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Senate President Martin Looney congratulates Sen. Marilyn Moore who led the debate on the bill (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — The Senate spent two hours Tuesday debating a bill that never had a chance of passing.

The bill would have required businesses to give employees more notice of their schedules and pay them one-half of their regular pay if the shift was canceled or changed.

The bill was defeated 20-16. Democratic Sens. Gayle Slossberg and Joan Hartley joined the 18 Republicans in voting against it.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said they wanted to see whether people supported workers, especially low-income workers.

“It shows clearly the priorities of each legislator who voted on this bill,” Looney said.

The legislation seeks to end the practice of what’s called “on-call scheduling.” Proponents of the legislation said it’s used by large corporations, big box retailers, and fast food chains to keep their low-wage employees on the hook 24/7 whenever they need them, regardless of fairness or convenience.

The uncertainty created by this practice makes simple tasks like scheduling childcare a nightmare, because parents often don’t know until Tuesday morning if they have a Tuesday afternoon shift and have to arrange last-minute childcare, or miss out on the hours entirely, according to proponents. Often times these workers show up at work only to learn their shift is cancelled last minute, after a parent has already arranged childcare, paid for transportation, or turned down a shift at a second job.

Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said Connecticut is still struggling to recover all the jobs it lost in the Great Recession.

He said it’s not reasonable to require businesses to be held responsible for weather events that may slow their businesses or other events that may be out of their control.

Democrats are looking to use this issue, which they knew wouldn’t pass, in the upcoming campaigns. They believe voting in favor of it will look good for them, and voting against it will look bad for Republicans. The Republicans, who have the same amount of control over the Senate agenda, believe opposing it will work to their advantage in the upcoming election, which is why they allowed the debate to move forward unimpeded.

“Despite the fact that nearly half of hourly low wage workers are responsible for Connecticut’s job growth since the recession, the legislators who voted against the fair scheduling bill showed little regard for the lives and well-being of the majority of Connecticut’s workforce — and for their contributions which have helped stabilize our economy and our state,” said Carlos Moreno, state director of the Working Families Organization.

He said because of on-call scheduling practices, “over 315,000 hourly workers will continue struggling to keep up with their bills, find childcare, visit the doctor, attend classes, spend time with family, and juggle second jobs.”