March 2018 Newsletter

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Making Living Wages Work

March 2018

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March 1 was Minimum Wage Worker Equal Pay Day. In 2018, a worker earning $7.25 per hour needs an extra 41 working days to earn the same pay as in 2009, when the federal minimum wage was last increased.



Hillsborough / Orange County Chamber of Commerce: Certified!

Orange County Living Wage announces the Hillsborough / Orange County Chamber of Commerce as a newly certified living wage employer. Representing over 291 diverse businesses and nonprofits, the mission of the Hillsborough / Orange County Chamber of Commerce is to be “the primary voice for member-business development and economic growth through innovative community collaboration.”

Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Kim Tesoro said that “increasing wages to meet the living wage standard certainly benefits employees. But just as important is the fact that by taking this step and working with Orange County Living Wage, we are raising awareness of this initiative. I encourage business owners to research the data on how communities have benefitted with living wage programs.”  

Orange County Living Wage Steering (OCLW) Committee Chair Susan Romaine said: “Not only is Hillsborough / Orange County the first certified Chamber in the state, I would not be surprised if Hillsborough/Orange County were the only Chamber in the entire country that is certified as a living wage employer. It reflects the degree to which our business community views itself as not simply employers, but also as catalysts for creating a more just and sustainable local economy.”


Victoria Park Florist is our Valentine

On Valentine’s Day, Victoria Park Florist helped lots of folks show a whole lotta love. Vivid bouquets and elegant arrangements streamed from the Timberlyne store throughout the day, which is their busiest day of the year. OCLW also held its first BUYcott of the year at Victoria Park Florist, aiming to bring even more customers to their doorstep on the big day.

Listen to Victoria Park co-owner Margaret Pender and OCLW Steering Committee Chair Susan Romaine in a recent WCHL interview on living wages at work.


Stuart Bethune: A Lasting Impact

Founding Orange County Living Wage Member Stuart Bethune died on December 30, 2017 after a two-year fight with a rare blood cancer. Beginning in the spring of 2015, Stuart laid much of the groundwork for OCLW’s voluntary certification program, helping to design everything from our logo and website, to storefront decals and certificates for newly certified employers.

Utilizing his background as a consulting manager at SAS, he set in place processes for tracking information about hundreds of employers in Orange County that OCLW still uses on a near-daily basis. He developed the formula for our annual living wage that is now widely accepted by public, private, and non-profit employers in the County. And as head of our certification team, he trained other volunteer steering committee members on protocol for outreach to and certification of living wage employers.

Mostly, Stuart will be remembered for his immense passion in championing a living wage for all workers in Orange County. He was our steering committee’s strongest advocate for targeting employers who don’t pay a living wage and need to lift wages to become certified. With his charming personality and inquisitive nature, Stuart could be spotted around town talking just as easily with a restaurant owner, waitress, or dishwasher about living wages.

OCLW will name our soon-to-be-launched aspiring employer program in memory of Stuart and his profound sense of social justice. The Stuart Bethune REACH program (Reaching Employers Aspiring to Certify with Help) will provide support and encouragement for employers who are close to, but not quite at, the living wage threshold.

Stuart will be sorely missed by our steering committee and by all who advocate for a living wage in our community.

Stuart Bethune, center, 2016 Curryblossom Café BUYcott


Award-winning Cheese & Living Wages at Chapel Hill Creamery

Chapel Hill Creamery is OCLW’s first certified farm, producing year-round and seasonal cheeses, along with whey-fed pork and high-quality beef. We are honored by our connection to this hard-working farm, which gives so much back to the community, including locally made food, sustainable farming, land preservation – and living wages.  

The business began in 2000, after owners Flo Hawley and Portia McKnight left careers in the retail food industry to try their hands at cheese-making. They found a farm with beautiful Orange County pastures and started with a herd of nine Jersey cows, choosing Jerseys for their rich milk and small size. By 2001, they were selling their first cheese at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. Now, they sell throughout the region and state, and even have several out-of-state accounts as well.

In addition to living wage certification, Chapel Hill Creamery claims another important certification: the herd is Animal Welfare Approved. AWA is a meat and dairy product label indicating that a farm employs the highest animal welfare and environmental standards.

The Creamery’s herd of 30 coffee-colored Jersey cows is a “closed” herd. Any new cows come into the herd through breeding and birth on the farm. As the herd size has grown, the selections of cheese have changed and constantly developed.

Chapel Hill Creamery currently offers three primary selections, Calvander, Hickory Grove, and Carolina Moon, with a rotating cast of seasonal varieties. Flo and Portia initially planned to make cheeses seasonally. But good employees and demand for their cheese helped them to move to year-round production. Chapel Hill Creamery cheeses are sold in many local stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. Bill Smith at Crook’s Corner was their first restaurant customer, and other Orange County restaurants such as Provence, Acme, Lantern, Pancuito, and Root Cellar Café and Catering offer either cheeses or meats. “How lucky we are to have these really good local restaurants that want to feature local products,” said Creamery co-owner Portia McKnight.

A pound of cheese requires about a gallon of milk. Cheese-making uses all farm’s milk; there’s none left over for commercial milk sales. Flo says the process goes something like this: “Make it. Age it. Taste it. Tweak it.” As there’s a lot more science, craft, and care that goes into their work, we advise you visit their website for information on cheese-making, along with mouth-watering descriptions of cheese, pairings, and recipes. Find them on Facebook and Instagram for more news and photos, including pictures of the new spring calves.

The farm also offers whey-fed pork sausages and ground beef, and will soon offer other cuts of beef as well. Jersey beef, says Flo, rates very highly for texture and flavor, however, the cut is smaller than a typical American steak. “You’re not going to get a dinner-plate-sized steak.”

Which is all to the good, for both waistlines and taste buds.

For a complete list of Chapel Hill Creamery products, go to Look here for sales outlets, or find them at local farmer’s markets (Carrboro, Downtown Durham, Eno River, and the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh), stores (Weaver Street Market and Whole Foods), restaurants, CSAs, and food delivery services such as The Produce Box


Living Wages and the 2018 Roster

2018 is off to a strong start with six new employers on our living wage roster. As of March 2018, 144 employers in Orange County have certified as living wage employers and raised wages more than $655,000.

Blue Moon Estate Sales specializes in planning, promoting, and conducting estate sales in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Pittsboro and Durham.

Hillsborough/Orange Chamber of Commerce is a strong voice for member-business development and economic growth in Orange County.

Mechanical Solutions provides customized water systems in a reliable, cost-effective manner.

Optima Asset Management offers a wide range of financial advisory services for individuals and businesses.

The Piedmont Sundial is a local resource for arts and cultural events and public affairs reporting.

ZimZoom’s photo booth provides hours of entertainment at your next event.

Our complete list of living wage employers includes automotive and construction businesses, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, landscapers and architects. Bring living wage employers your business and your thanks for making Orange County a more vibrant, resourceful, and just community.

Your Donation in 2018

OCLW continues to build our program and raise funds to support our business and community outreach. More money gets good stuff done better and faster. In 2018, we’ll re-design our website and build our new Stuart B. Bethune REACH program. Consider making a donation in honor of founder Stuart Bethune to jumpstart this program or upgrade our website. Thanks, Orange County, for making living wages work!

Thank you for all of your support in this voluntary effort to promote a living wage in Orange County.
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Orange County Living Wage Steering Committee
Mike Andrews, Susan Attermeier, John Barrow, Kimberly Brewer, Victoria Freeman, Claire Home, Chris Lathrop, Mark Marcoplos, Susan Romaine, Ariane Sanders
Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

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