June 2017 Newsletter

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Making Living Wages Work JUNE 2017

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In no state can a person working fulltime at the federal minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.

-National Low Income Housing Coalition “Out of Reach 2017”



First, a shout out to Orange County’s Board of County Commissioners for their June 8 decision to increase county workers’ wages to $13.75 by summer and $15 by 2018. Details aren’t yet available but it’s great news, and we look forward to seeing the wage increase in effect.

Next, living wage supporters have a big opportunity to speak up for living wages. Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) is considering paying all fulltime contract custodians a living wage in 2017-2018.

For background, see The Living Wage Contract, below.

We encourage you to contact all CHCCS Board of Education members at allboardmembers@chccs.k12.nc.us. The 2017-2018 operating budget will soon be set.

Contact County Commissioners as well, since they provide funds to the district. ocbocc@orangecountync.gov Your input matters!

Thanks to Weaver Street Market for giving Orange County Living Wage table space this summer at all three market locations. In Carrboro we recently distributed our updated employer list to lots of supporters at a busy Jazz Brunch. Look for us in Hillsborough (July 16) and Chapel Hill at Southern Village (August 13).

When we speak with people in the community, we hear so much enthusiasm and support for living wage employers. The employer list gets their attention. Orange County residents want to bring their business to living wage employers.

To suggest meetings and events where we should be,
contact us at: info@orangecountylivingwage.org

And use our supporter cards as you shop, dine, and spend money in Orange County.

We’re always working to add more restaurants, retail, and services. Your support helps to find them.


employer networking event on wednesday june 14 6:30 - 8pm @ beer study, 106 n. graham st, chapel hill

Living wage employers, please join our steering committee and other local employers at OCLW’s first networking event, Wednesday June 14, at Chapel Hill’s Beer Study. Well have food from Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe and a featured beer from a living wage brewery.  Beer Study is — you guessed it — a living wage employer with a huge beverage selection, including beer from 25+ North Carolina breweries. Street parking is limited, but there's a town parking lot on W. Rosemary Street between N. Graham and Sunset Drive.  We hope to see you on Wednesday!


Living wage employers are the Best. Really.

With the fiscal and school years wrapping up, late spring is the season for awards. More than ten living wage employers were finalists in Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards and WCHL-Chapelboro.com People’s Choice Awards. Also, a whopping 16 Indy Week Best of the Triangle Awards went to 11 living wage employers. Congratulations to all!

Across the three categories, our winners are:

Morinaga America Foods
Weaver Street Realty
Auto Logic
Carrboro Plumbing
Weaver Street Market
Beer Study
Mystery Brewing Company
Vimala’s Curryblossom Café
Back Alley Bikes
Bonnevile Electric
Planned Parenthood
Carol Woods
Hillsborough Yarn Shop

New Business of the Year
Best Real Estate
Best Professional Services, Best Auto Repair
Best Happy Home, Best Plumber
Best Bakery & Best Bread
Best Retail Beer & Best Draft Beer Slection
Best Brewery & Best Trivia Night
Best Gluten Free, Best Vegan-Friendly, & Best Indian
Best Bike Shop
Best Electrian
Best Nonprofit
Best Retirement Community
Best Yarn Store



stoneline designs: living wage employer of the month

Monte McDermed’s furniture first took shape in a two-car garage in California. He was drawn to metals, wood, and glass, creating pieces with contrasting textures and clean lines. Designing was the easier part of the process. Getting his furniture built required skilled workers and much more space. 

So in 1989 McDermed moved Stoneline Designs to the new Hillsborough Business Center on Dimmocks Mill Road. In a 100-year-old brick building, Stoneline’s team creates beautiful furniture with a modern look. Conference tables and reception desks are a major focus, but they build media cabinets, credenzas, bookcases, and more.

Buyers select a specific piece from 5 to 9 product lines, then choose from a range of materials, including granite, brushed steel, wood, and glass. Customers adapt the piece to fit their style and space, with mix-and-match customization that allows for endless combinations.


Stoneline Designs is an internet-based business whose customers design and order online. The finished product is shipped to home and corporate offices throughout the U.S. The process worked well for McDermed in the past. But in today’s crowded internet space, “there’s a lot of noise,” says McDermed. Unlike Stoneline’s designs, which are built to order, his competition is usually mass produced. 

“It’s also a driver of pricing,” says McDermed. And prices are going down. While this is good for consumers, a crowded market with lower prices puts the squeeze on smaller producers. Particularly those paying living wages. Stoneline Designs has been committed to paying living wages to all their workers. But with changing markets and falling prices, the business faces challenges.

“We’re trying to re-establish ourselves and adapt in a new market,” says McDermed.  

If you own a business, think of Stoneline Designs when it’s time to replace a conference table or upgrade your reception area. Send your corporate purchasing manager the link to Stoneline Designs and tell them about the fabulous office furniture made here in Orange County. Homeowners can also design media cabinets, coffee tables, bookcases, and more. Let’s bring more clicks to the folks working hard in those 100-year old bricks.

Stoneline Designs        http://stonelinedesigns.com       1-800-785-6038

Bonus video of the Stoneline team cutting granite for a boat-shaped table: https://www.facebook.com/stonelinedesigns/videos/919205388154535/


volunteers needed

Would you like to help Orange County Living Wage broaden its impact and outreach? We’re looking to staff tables at various events throughout the summer. More volunteers will help us reach more Orange County residents and potential businesses. Email us at info@orangecountylivingwage.org if you can help.


wage news from the web

On legislation introduced by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage: http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/25/news/economy/minimum-wage-bill-democrats/

On income and expense swings among the poor (and the rich): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/business/economy/volatile-income-economy-jobs.html

From National Low Income Housing Coalition, an extensive interactive map on income and housing costs in all 50 states. Spoiler: We ask our minimum-wage workers to raise families in one-bedroom apartments. Two bedrooms are beyond reach.  http://nlihc.org/oor


living wage roster has plumbers, electricians & builders

Our complete list of 118 living wage employers is here. Bring them your business this week!


the living wage contract

Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) is considering paying all fulltime contract custodians a living wage in 2017-2018. At their June 6 Board of Education meeting, CHCCS’ Board voted to hire two recommended Custodial Service Management Companies. The Board postponed the decision on wages.

The district has been an Orange County Living Wage certified employer since 2016. In that time, CHCCS has shown leadership and vision in raising wages for custodians and other workers directly employed by the district.

Each of the district’s 19 schools has at least one custodian at work during the day. These daytime custodians receive the living wage, as they are employed by the district. Most school cleaning, however, happens at night. CHCCS began to contract out night-time school cleaning in 1999.

Now, with all schools and three district offices under contract for evening cleaning services, the district recently “re-bid” the contracts. They asked contractors to submit a “base” bid (at wages to be determined by the contractor, but less than the living wage) and an “alternate” bid. The alternate bid pays contract custodians the 2017 living wage of $11.65, with health insurance offered.

Bids have been reviewed and sums tallied: living wages for contract workers will add $394K to the district’s total operating budget.

Our Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools work with a complex mix of budget pressures, parent expectations, student needs, teacher salaries, and state mandates. Finding money for living wages will likely be difficult. 

But getting to living wages will be hard in any year, if the money is perceived to be diverted from classroom needs and student opportunity.

We would ask that CHCCS and our Board of County Commissioners work together to fund living wages in a manner that somehow does not undercut teachers, instruction, and electives.

Against the backdrop of CHCCS’ vast budget matrix, our request may seem naïve or impractical. But it can’t be impossible. Surely in Orange County we can find a way to make living wages work. Higher wages benefit our community, schools, and children, some of whose parents work nights to clean our schools.

Contact CHCCS Board of Education members allboardmembers@chccs.k12.nc.us and County Commissioners ocbocc@orangecountync.gov immediately, as the budget will be finalized soon.

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, Steve Jenks, Chris Lathrop, Mark Marcoplos, and Susan Romaine
Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

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