Thank you to The Daily Progress for the words of support for the Living Wage Certification Program, which the Living Wage Coalition of Central Virginia launched on Labor Day (“Tackling the complexities of cost of living,” Sept. 4 editorial).
Since employers and their customers/clients have a positive role to play in making it possible for workers to financially survive Charlottesville, we are delighted and honored to publicly celebrate those employers who pay at least $15 per hour to all employees. These employers make the community better for us all. We thank The Daily Progress for educating the public about the struggles of the working poor.
As with word combinations such as “abusive love” or “benign cancer,” the term “working poor” consists of two words that do not belong together. If a person works full-time, is it acceptable to us that he or she doesn’t earn enough to feed their families? Is it fair that someone spends 40 hours a week making the lives of others better, yet he or she must agonize over which bills to pay (and not pay) each month?
The term “working poor” is a red flag that something is very wrong. Every time we encounter the term “working poor,” we must all be aware of the unfairness implicit in this term.
In lieu of leadership from our federal and state government representatives to raise the minimum wage, private citizens must be the ones to transform the Charlottesville area into a community where people who work full-time can survive. We encourage each and every person to consider how employees are paid before deciding where to spend. Ask the workers that you interact with if they make a living wage. Most workers are happy to answer this question. Look for the Certified Living Wage Employer seal at the businesses and organizations that you frequent.
We encourage all employers to look for ways to pay a living wage. If you know of an employer that pays a living wage, or aspires to do so, please encourage them to go to livingwagerichmond.org/Charlottesville to complete an application for certification as a living wage employer.
Kim Crater is a member of the Living Wage Coalition of Central Virginia.