HARTFORD, CT — Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano has become a prolific letter writer sending them on all sorts of topics. However, on Wednesday it was Senate President Martin Looney who was sending a letter to Fasano.
The two men from different parties have a good working relationship, but Looney wasn’t going to let the last letter Fasano sent go without comment.
Looney’s caucus is at odds with Republicans and Gov. Ned Lamont over how to handle the wage regulations for restaurant workers. The issue has taken center stage following a series of class-action lawsuits against restaurants.
On Tuesday, Fasano accused the Senate Democratic caucus of being held hostage by labor unions.
“I fear that the stranglehold of certain union representatives has made the Senate Democrat caucus fearful of taking any action on this issue,” Fasano said. “This is beyond disappointing, as the people who will suffer most in this situation if nothing is done are the restaurant workers across our state.”
Looney shot back on Wednesday accusing Fasano of crossing the line and changing the rules of engagement.
“However, if you insist on discussing motives, I understand why you and other Republican Senators would be so eager to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of restaurant owners. Financial motives sometimes trump the needs of a deliberative consensus-building process,” Looney said referring to Fasano’s ownership of the Silver Sands Beach & Tennis Club, which includes two restaurants.
Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, also owns a restaurant and signed a letter with 131 other restaurant owners this week calling for a special session to address the issue.
“Apart from the unprovoked departure from our traditions, your letter is also factually incorrect,” Looney wrote to Fasano. “I understand that blaming unions for all of the woes of our world is a longstanding knee-jerk reaction by your political party, but the restaurant workers in question are in fact not represented by any union. If you and your caucus were equally concerned about fairness to workers as well as to management, I believe that you would acknowledge this fact.”
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Fasano said “flare ups” will happen.
He said he thinks the dispute is behind them and they will go forward next week with a public hearing on the issue.
“There’s going to be tanglements between caucuses from time to time,” Fasano said. “Every family has disputes.”
The public hearing has yet to be scheduled and draft language has yet to surface.
“The administration is ready to move forward on this right now,” Max Reiss, a spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said Wednesday.