December 2017 Newsletter

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Making Living Wages Work december 2017

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We’re very fortunate to live in a community where so many employers view their employees as their most important asset – not as a cost to be minimized. Orange County Living Wage is proud of our 137 living-wage-certified employers. We look forward to adding dozens more to our roster in 2018.

      Susan Romaine, OCLW Steering Committee Chair  


living wage raise on january 1

Housing costs in Orange County, including rents, are ever on the rise. US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data tell us how much rents rise on average across each region of the state. Orange County Living Wage uses HUD Fair Market Rent data to determine locally relevant living wage rates from year to year.

We use the widely accepted Universal Living Wage Calculation that is based on HUD’s standard that only 30% of gross income should be spent on housing, leaving 70% for food, utilities, health care, clothing, etc. HUD data lets us calculate annual income needed to afford the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Alamance, Chatham, Durham and Orange counties. The four-county formula accounts for a large number of employees working in Orange County but commuting from surrounding areas where rent is more affordable.

Effective January 1, 2018, OCLW’s living wage is $13.70, or $12.20 for employers who also provide health insurance.


doubling down on living wages

When a business is certified as a living wage employer, their certification is good for two years. Within those two years, a certified employer does not have to raise wages to meet OCLW’s annual living wage increases. However, some employers do raise wages each year to keep pace with the new guidelines. After two years, when an employer applies for re-certification, they re-certify at that year’s current living wage.

We’re delighted to report that nearly all eligible employers from 2015’s inaugural group chose to re-certify at the 2017 living wage. What’s more, these employers raised wages by $38,000 in order to re-certify. Since 2015, wage hikes attributable to OCLW’s living wage threshold come to $637,650.

Please join us in recognizing our charter group of certified employers for their commitment to fair wages and shared prosperity.


living wage roster

We’re honored to wrap up 2017 with announcements of four exciting new employers on our living wage roster.

Starpoint Brewing has been brewing delicious, fresh ales and lagers in Carrboro since 2015. Find their beverages at Beer Study, Weaver Street Market, and wherever the best beer is sold.

Chapel Hill Creamery is an award-winning producer of fresh and aged cheeses and whey pork. You can find their wares at local farmer’s markets and at Weaver Street Market, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and other select retailers.

The Root Cellar Café and Catering is Chapel Hill’s own gourmet market serving scratch-made breakfast, lunch and dinner and currently offering a variety of catering for the holidays, including dinner and desserts. Find them next to Flyleaf Books at 750 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm is a twenty-two-acre family farm and floral design studio specializing in cut flowers, honey, chestnuts, educational farm tours, floral workshops, and weddings. Find them at 7316 Morrow Mill Road, only 12 miles from Chapel Hill.

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


nonprofits: serving our county and paying living wages

According to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, nonprofits provide 10% of the total number of jobs in our state, about the same as retail trade or manufacturing. Nonprofits provide essential services that the state, county, or town does not have funding and capacity to deliver.

Here in Orange County nonprofits help stock food pantries, build houses, support the arts, serve adults and children with disabilities, and so much more. Orange County is home to more than 300 nonprofits, whose employees comprise 46% of the total workforce.

Orange County Living Wage is proud to claim 29 of these nonprofits as certified living wage employers. 30, counting us.

As we approach the holidays and year’s end, consider donating to one of our living-wage-certified nonprofits. Demand for their services continues to increase, while funding is increasingly hard to find.

One of our nonprofit partners is Volunteers for Youth, a delinquency prevention program providing local youth with mentoring and support services. 233 Orange County youth participated in Volunteers for Youth’s teen court, community service, and mentoring programs in 2017.


“There are many more children and teens in Orange County in need of mentors than Volunteers for Youth is able to provide,” says Executive Director Susan Worley. “Our biggest challenge is finding funding to expand our mentoring program to meet the needs of all Orange County youth.”

Bridge II Sports certified as a living-wage employer in 2017 but has been providing adults and kids with a wide variety of adapted sports since 2012. Their work recognizes the value and potential of all lives so that “disability does not define people or outcomes,” says Bridge II Sports’ Missty Brogdon. “The variety of weekly programming and events lets us reach across social groups, levels of ability and life stages.”


Bridge II Sports’ Junior Thunder player tipping off during Carolina Winter Classic 2017.

Boomerang Youth works with middle and high school students who need extra support to stay on track in school and in their personal lives. Director of Operations Sonia Frishemeier is looking to expand after-school services for high school students in 2018, focusing on building college and career readiness.


“Reflecting on 2017, we are grateful for the many partnerships that came together collaboratively to meet the needs of over 300 youth across Orange County,” says Frishemeier.  

We’re proud to claim these nonprofits as our partners in living wage advocacy. Find OCLW’s complete list of nonprofits in our employer directory. Donate to support and honor their work, which makes a difference every day in our community.



Since 2015, Orange County Living Wage has certified 137 employers whose 6335 employees receive (at least) living wages. Workers have gotten raises totalling $637,650 due to certification. We continue to add new employers and engage more consumers because of your commitment to raising wages and increasing prosperity for all. 

We wish you peace and joy this holiday season. In the new year, we wish you more living wage employers and employees to celebrate and support. Together, we’ll make it happen! 


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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