Fighting for a living wage

 

To the Editor:

For the last few months, I’ve been volunteering with Down Home NC. DHNC is a grassroots, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to work to improve the lives of working class and poor people living in rural communities in North Carolina. Jackson County is one of the counties which has a Down Home chapter.

One of the DHNC teams I volunteer with as part of the Jackson County chapter is Team Living Wage. A living wage is calculated based on the federal poverty line. Making a living wage can help people live without having to rely on tax-funded programs, such as food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. A living wage in Jackson County is $12.60 an hour. (Compare that to minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour and hasn’t changed since 2009.) Employers who pay living wages notice a decrease in employee turnover, which leads to less money spent on training costs, down time, absenteeism and recruiting.

The Living Wage team’s current plans are to recognize Jackson County businesses which pay their employees a living wage, or assist businesses which are interested in working toward being able to pay their employees a living wage. DHNC Jackson County, in conjunction with Just Economics of Buncombe County, sponsors a living wage certification program. We have been reaching out to local businesses about participating in the process. It is free to business owners to apply for certification, and it takes about five minutes to complete an application. We do not shame businesses if they are unable to participate. Our goal is to help local businesses increase their patronage by highlighting their efforts to help the local economy and residents.

Those with questions about the living wage certification program should email Living Wage Team members at livingwages@downhomenc.org. or call Chelsea Hoglen at 476-8189.

Mary Pressley-Hussaini,

Cullowhee