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.
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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
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