March 2019 Newsletter

 

Making Living Wages Work
March 2019 Newsletter
 

Certified Employers Recognized at Hillsborough/Orange Chamber of Commerce Gala

Living wage-certified employers earned some well-deserved recognition at the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Gala and Awards Ceremony, held on March, 2019.  Tiffany Barber, owner of Hillsborough Pharmacy & Nutrition, won the 2018 Small Business Person of the Year Award.  She was nominated by peer members of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce.  Barber says the award came as a surprise when we visited her shortly after she won, but early in our conversation it was obvious how much she cares about her workers and creating a more just economy.  Since she opened the pharmacy, she has prioritized paying her employees a living wage so they can, in her words, “live happy and healthy lives”. She didn’t want her employees to worry about having to take on a second job to have a higher income, and also wanted to avoid some of the unhappiness and high turnover she saw while working for years in a big chain before opening her pharmacy.“I want my employees to be like family,” she said.  “They’re part of the community, and small businesses are all about community.  We have to treat workers appropriately.” We think so too.

Congratulations also to Ronda Tucker, Director of the living wage-certified Burwell School Historic Site in Hillsborough, for winning the 2018 Helping Hand Award.  OCLW’s Certification Coordinator, Rachel Mehalek, was also nominated for the award. Thank you for all you do!

Living Wage Roster Grows to 180 Employers

We’ve now certified 180 living wage employers in Orange County, and several more are in the pipeline.  The newest additions to our roster include Sofia’s Boutique,  Greene Hunt Inc., Berkshire Chapel Hill, Superior Home Management, Human Kindness Foundation, Youth Community Project, Wellsport Bodyworksand Actual Size Builders.  12 employers also met our criteria for recertification so far this year, which they can apply for every two years after their initial living wage certification.  You can find the most up-to-date roster of our certified employers here.  Let’s continue to support them as our community grows!

Bill Introduced to Raise NC Minimum Wage to $15 by 2024

On Tuesday, March 19, North Carolina lawmakers joined Raising Wages NC — a coalition of workers groups, advocates, business, and faith leaders — to introduce legislation that gradually raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.  House Bill 366, “Raising Wages for NC Workers,” would also end the subminimum wage for persons with disabilities and phase it out for tipped workers. It would now cover agricultural and domestic workers, two groups that have historically been excluded from wage protections.  About a third of workers in North Carolina currently earn less than federal poverty-level wages, which is the second-worst in the nation.

The federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, has not changed in 10 years.  The federal minimum wage for tipped workers -- $2.13 an hour -- has not changed since 1991.  21 states, along with Washington, D.C., will see raises in their minimum wages this year.

Follow Us on Instagram!

We’ve added an Instagram account to our social media cadre to showcase our growing community!  Follow us at oc_livingwage, the same handle as our Twitter account.  We’re posting photos of certified employers and stories on living wages, and we invite followers to tag photos of our logo when they spot it around Orange County.  We want to highlight the people and places that are doing such important work in our community by building a living wage economy. Feel free to send photos or story ideas for Instagram to Emily Spangenberg, OCLW’s Communications Coordinator, at emily@orangecountylivingwage.org.  

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, Aparna Jonnal, Mark Marcoplos, Rachel Mehalek, Susan Romaine, Ariane Sanders, Emily Spangenberg, and Jim Wald.

Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

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January 2019 Newsletter

 

Making Living Wages Work
January 2019
 

Living Wage Roster Grows

Since we started roasting coffee in Carrboro in 2004, it has been our goal to be not only a member of our community, but a support system for maintaining the quality of life here. We have been fortunate to be able to offer living wages all along, and welcome the opportunity to validate this through OCLW, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. This way, we can work together to continue to improve the quality of life for individuals, and the well-being of our community at large. - Scott Conary, President, Carrboro Coffee Roasters

Orange County Living Wage’s roster continues to grow, with over 170 certified employers paying living wages to all full- and part-time staff. The newest additions to our living wage roster include Bud Matthews Services, Carrboro Coffee Roasters, Crete Coatings, and Chapel Hill Magazine.

Shannon Media, Inc., DBA Chapel Hill Magazine is the premier lifestyle publication in our area. Want to be in-the-know about the restaurant scene, arts and entertainment, business, do-gooders in the community, fashion, weddings, home, and garden?  Chapel Hill Magazine has it all. And the magazine publisher now pays a living wage to boot.

“Shannon Media’s only asset is our people and we want to invest in that asset as much as we can while growing a business with a healthy profit margin,” says Chief Operating Officer Rory Gillis. “Over the last few years, we’ve committed to higher wages, health care benefits, and paid time off for our employees. It is really expensive, but it is even more expensive to see turnover. At the end of the day, I want to build a company that I want to work in every day.”

To support this committed living wage employer, subscribe to Chapel Hill Magazine or pick up the next issue on a newsstand. Shannon Media, Inc. also publishes Durham Magazine, Chatham Magazine, and Taste the Event.

For descriptions and locations of all 171 living-wage-certified employers, go here. Give these employers your business and your thanks.


UNC Health Care Employees Get a Pay Raise

Starting this week, UNC Health Care is giving 9,000 of its Triangle employees a pay raise. These employees now earn $14 per hour, and will earn a minimum of $15 per hour in July. Among the beneficiaries of the pay hike are housekeepers, cashiers, stock clerks, and nursing assistants working at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh, and UNC Physicians Network in the Triangle.

“I think it will definitely give me some wiggle room to be able to enjoy more things,” says Rex Hospital nursing assistant Meredith Pounds. “I’m in school, so money’s tight, so the pay raise will definitely help to pay bills.”

UNC Health Care is allocating a hefty $15 million annually for Meredith and thousands of her co-workers to have more wiggle room. “We are committed to providing a competitive living wage to support our workforce,” UNC Health Care CEO Dr. Bill Roper said when announcing the raise on December 11. “We are proud to employ the best people to fulfill our mission of caring for patients and their families, and offering a higher living wage is an important step we are able to take.”

We’ll be watching closely as Dr. Roper brings his commitment to living wages to his new job as interim president of the UNC System.

Living Wages in the News

National Employment Law Project report shows that millions of workers around the nation are ringing in the New Year with a badly-needed boost to their paychecks. Nineteen states and 21 cities and counties are increasing their minimum wage in 2019, with many reaching $15 an hour.

The gap between American workers’ wages and their productivity is at an all-time high. To find out what workers should be making if wages had kept pace with productivity, check out the Economic Policy Institute’s “potential wages” calculator. For example, a worker making $17,000 per year would be making closer to $30,232 if wages had kept up with productivity over the last three decades.

A recent report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United shows that restaurants and their workers fare much better in those states that offer just one minimum wage that covers both tipped and non-tipped employees

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, Aparna Jonnal, Mark Marcoplos, Susan Romaine, Ariane Sanders
Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

 

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October Newsletter 2018

Making Living Wages Work
October 2018
 

Orange County Living Wage Rises to $14.25

Effective January 1, Orange County Living Wage is lifting its living wage threshold to $14.25 for both full- and part-time employees (or 12.75 with employer-provided health benefits). Our living wage is indexed to rent in a four-county area comprised of Alamance, Chatham, Durham, and Orange. It is based on the salary a worker needs in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment and other basic items including food, utilities, transportation, child care, and medical care without any form of governmental assistance. To see our living wage calculations, click here.

"By adjusting our living wage to rent each year, " says Certification Team Chair Kimberly Brewer, "we are creating more opportunities for those who work in Orange County to live here, volunteer here, vote here, and spend income right here at home on our local businesses." The icing on the cake is that some of that spending benefits our very own living wage employers: a fresh haircut at Moshi Moshi or Great Clips; an oil change at F&F Automotive or AutoLogic; a cup of coffee at Joe Van Gogh or Gray Squirrel. "Through a living wage we're building a more just and sustainable economy, one employer, one paycheck at a time," claims Brewer.

Townsend Bertram Certifies and Celebrates

As Townsend Bertram & Co. celebrates its 30th anniversary as a local, family owned adventure outfitter, the company is excited to reach its longtime goal of paying a living wage. "We see our employees as our greatest resource and the most valuable investment for the success of our business," says Marketing Manager Betsy Bertram. "We hope to inspire other retailers in our community and across the industry to pursue a living wage for their teams."

When Audrey Townsend and Scott Bertram opened Townsend Bertram & Company in 1988, they envisioned an adventure outfitter dedicated to building community and providing quality jobs. They added "& company" after their last names to recognize their entire staff, customers and brand partners in the outdoor community.

Bethany Garrison, one of the guides on the sales floor, captures the impact of a living wage on employees at all levels of the company. "As a college student, I am grateful that our general manger Taylor Dansby has implemented the Orange County Living Wage. TB&C has always done a good job of taking care of its employees because even before this we were getting paid more than minimum wage. This is just taking it to the next level to reward employees for working consistently, doing what we love, and building community." 


 Lara Kent and Erica McAdoo
The Paynter Law Firm

Nine New Employers Join Living Wage Roster

OCLW's roster continues to grow, with 166 certified employers paying living wages to all full- and part-time staff. Joining Townsend Bertram & Co on our living wage roster are Beemer Hadler & WillettClass Act CleaningNapoli CaféSanford Holshouser LawSparrow and Sons PlumbingThe Equity CollaborativeThe Paynter Law Firm,  Townsend Bertram & Co, and William Travis Jewelry. Give these employers your thanks and your business! For descriptions and locations of all living-wage-certified employers, go here.

Mystery Brewing Closing

We're saddened to share the news that Mystery Brewing, one of our very first living wage employers and a Hillsborough staple, is closing its doors on October 31. CEO Erik Lars Myers announced this "incredibly difficult decision" with this posting on Mystery's website:

We've always been undercapitalized, and it's been a struggle to operate for some time now. We've suffered a string of pretty bad luck over the past couple of years: equipment failures, construction and permitting delays, storm related outages and losses. The end result is that we can no longer afford to operate... We're enormously proud of the community that has grown up around Mystery, and we'll miss being here every day for Hillsborough. 

Since its founding in 2012, Mystery has been known for its innovative small-batch brews, often with seasonal ingredients to create new and unique flavors. In 2017, Mystery added a kitchen to complement the beers on tap. Reed more about Mystery's rich history in this Indy Week article.

"It's a sad thing that's happening right now," says Myers, "and I want to thank all of the employees who made Mystery what it is. We wish everyone at Mystery the best of luck during their transitioning to new workplaces.

Living Wages in the News

When Seattle passed an ordinance several years ago raising the minimum wage to $15, opponents claimed it was an "economic death wish" that would stymie growth and kill jobs. Read about a new study by University of Washington explaining what really happened.

The U.S. economy is robust and jobs are plentiful. But for workers with little education, the jobs often don't pay enough to live on. These individuals are among our country's growing number of working poor - and working homeless.

UNC Professor Sarah Dempsey explains why North Carolina's minimum wage needs to be raised, and why many local businesses are not waiting around for the state to do so.

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


 

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August 2018 Newsletter

 

Making Living Wages Work
August 2018
 

Get your Katharine Whalen Benefit tickets here.

 

OCLW Benefit Concert Featuring Katharine Whalen’s JazzSquad

On Friday, September 7, OCLW’s Benefit Concert with Katharine Whalen's JazzSquad puts living wages and home-grown talent squarely in the spotlight.

Orange County's own Katharine Whalen brings her JazzSquad to Carrboro's ArtsCenter for an evening in celebration of living wage employers and workers, and the community that supports them.

Katharine is a North Carolina native who has lived in Orange County since high school. She rocketed to fame in the ‘90s with the legendary band, The Squirrel Nut Zippers. Since then, Katharine has continued to evolve her artistry with various projects, including JazzSquad, a side project formed years ago to deepen her musical knowledge and build skills.

“Everything happened so fast [with the Zippers’ fast track to fame]. We were just off and running. I had talent, but I don’t think I really understood music.”

Katharine remembers sharing this sentiment one night, while on tour with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, whose saxophone player had some great advice for her.

“He said, ‘Go home, learn 40 jazz songs, and you won’t feel that way anymore.’ So I went home and learned 40 songs.”

Her JazzSquad got its start with those songs, even touring and releasing “a great little jazz record that is still available online,” says Katharine. These days, JazzSquad is a trio with Robert Griffin on piano, Danny Grewen on trombone, and Katharine on stand-up drum kit and, of course, the voice.

Katharine describes the trio’s recent focus on West Coast jazz (i.e., Chet Baker) and her approach to these tunes. “It’s taken me a while for my voice to mature so I could hold those long, lower, flatter notes. I have to stay calm, ride it out, hold the note … and then hold it a lot longer!”

Join us at The ArtsCenter on Friday, September 7, to see how long Katharine can hold those notes. Onyx Club Boys Duo will open the show with some swinging gypsy jazz tunes.

It’s sure to be a perfect pairing – like living wages and Orange County. Your attendance for this event will certainly help OCLW hold its own financially. Our mission to certify employers and raise wages works because of you. With your financial support, we can reach more employers and raise more wages.

Tickets to the event are $25 and can be purchased here. Also, event sponsorship is tax-deductible and comes with free tickets to the show.

The ArtsCenter is at 300-G East Main Street in Carrboro. Parking is easy and free after 5:30 in the parking deck beside the Hampton Inn. 

Thanks for sponsoring and purchasing your tickets today! We can’t wait to see you in September.  

Nine New Employers on our Living Wage Roster!

OCLW’s roster continues to grow, with over 166 certified employers paying living wages to all full- and part-time staff. Our newest employers include NC Center for Resiliency, Refugee Support CenterTaylor Brauer Realty Group, Sparkle Body Arts, Carolina Ophthalmology Associates, School of Rock Chapel Hill, Franklin Street Realty, Strata Solar, and Fresh Coat Painters of Chapel Hill.

Give these businesses your thanks and your support! For descriptions and locations of all living-wage-certified employers, go here

UNC Employees to Receive Raises

You may have heard the great news that NC’s General Assembly raised the minimum salary for all state employees to $31,200 ($15 hourly). It isn’t yet clear how this wage raise will be implemented throughout the University system. Regardless, living wage supporters were glad to see a July 11 message from the office of the UNC Provost announcing that “University employees earning less than this amount [$31,200] will receive an increase to $31,200.”

 It’s welcome news for Chapel Hill and Orange County – as long as the lowest-paid workers such as cleaning and janitorial staff don’t see their jobs contracted out.

 Go Heels! Raise wages and retain workers’ jobs, benefits, and skills! Everybody benefits.

INDYWeek Offers Discounted Ad Space 
for Living Wage employers

OCLW and the INDY Week newspaper want employers to know about an opportunity to increase the visibility of living-wage-certified employers in the Triangle. As a living-wage-certified employer in Durham, the INDY is dedicated to helping people, businesses, organizations, and the community promote a just and sustainable local economy.

The newspaper is launching a monthly Living Wage Initiative and certified employer advertising page. In this new and ongoing section, a two-page spread will highlight certified living wage employers in Durham and in Orange County and encourage consumers to support local living-wage-certified employers. 

The initial plan is for 10 employers to place a 1/8-page horizontal color ad to run the first week of every month. The INDY asks that participants make a six-month or one-year commitment to this initiative, and they’re offering a deeply discounted rate to living wage employers. 

Normal rates, based on frequency, range from $415-$305. Ads in the new living wage section are offered at $200 per issue.  

Interested employers should contact John Hurld at jhurld@indyweek.com as soon as possible.

Wage and Prosperity News on the Web

Research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities describes the volatile and challenging work prospects faced by many SNAP and Medicaid recipients.  

Low-wage workers have won the latest round in the battle between the city of Birmingham and the Alabama state legislature on the city’s legal ability to raise the minimum wage.

Recent reporting from NC Justice Center and the Working Poor Families Project finds that 1 in 8 working families in North Carolina live below the federal poverty level.  

 
Thank you for all of your support in this voluntary effort to promote a living wage in Orange County.
 
Like us on Facebook!
OCLW Homepage
Email OCLW
 
Orange County Living Wage Steering Committee
Mike Andrews, Susan Attermeier, John Barrow, Kimberly Brewer, Victoria Freeman, Claire Home, Aparna Jonnal, Mark Marcoplos, Susan Romaine, Ariane Sanders
Copyright © 2017 Orange County Living Wage, All rights reserved.

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