Livable Wage

VLWC_webCreated in 1996 by the PJC, the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign (VLWC) is a coalition of local living wage activists, non-profit advocacy groups, unions, and religious communities. The VLWC is engaged in research, advocacy, educational programs, and grassroots organizing in it’s dedication to ensuring that every Vermonter receives a livable wage or income.

The VLWC believes that all Vermonters have the right to a livable wage job that meets their basic needs, to organize themselves into a union, and to work in a respectful work environment.

Click here to view Vermont’s 2013 Basic Needs Budget and Livable Wage.

Click here to view the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign website.

Click here for the Livable Jobs Toolkit.

Click here for a draft of the Livable Wage Ordinance being discussed by the Burlington City Council’s Ordinance Committee.

Livable Wage Ordinance Report (4/19/2013)

Not sure what “Livable Wage” really means? The video above is from a Peace & Justice Center event on January 31, 2013 at Burlington City Hall. It is a presentation about Livable Wage that includes a panel of experts who discuss the philosophy, the numbers, history state-wide, the Burlington city ordinance, & livable wage business ideals.

Here is a little bit more about these experts:

Emma Mulvaney-Stanak directed the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign at the Peace & Justice Center for four years and served on the ordinance committee of the Burlington City Council and did work on the actual livable wage ordinance.

Sharon Bushor is a current Burlington City Councilor and one of the original sponsors of the Livable Wage Ordinance. She sits on the finance & ordinance committees both of which work on this issue.

Dan Holtz is the “Maverick CEO” of Liz Lovely Cookies, based in Waitsfield, this artisan bakery prides itself on prioritizing people and the planet over profits.

Doug Hoffer is the author of the Peace & Justice Center’s Vermont Job Gap Study and the person responsible for updating the Vermont Livable Wage numbers each year. Doug is also Vermont’s newly elected State Auditor.


Livable Wage Ordinance Update:

Livable Wage Ordinance Threatens to Cut out Airport Workers
The City of Burlington has been a leader in supporting workers rights and jobs with dignity by issuing the livable wage ordinance. This ordinance was adopted by the city council in 2001 and revised in 2010. In April of this year a report came from the city attorney’s office that showed a massive non-compliance rate for businesses whose workers qualify for a livable wage, and an alarming lack of oversight and enforcement from City Departments. At that time the ordinance was sent to the ordinance committee for review.
This past Monday the new draft of the ordinance was read and discussed. The Peace & Justice Center fully supports the committee’s stronger language around the exemption process and the mechanism for enforcement. We are pleased that this new draft includes school workers who were previously left out of the ordinance. In 2007 these workers won a livable wage campaign through union organizing and with the support of the Peace & Justice Center’s Vermont Livable Wage Campaign. Even though these workers are currently paid a livable wage through contact negotiations and collective bargaining, being included in the language of ordinance establishes a foundation below which no erosion of wages is possible. If the City Council agrees to this new language school workers will no longer be at risk of loosing their livable wage at the bargaining table.
The new draft also includes seasonal workers who are entering into their fifth year in a position for more then 10 hours per week. It is always good to pay more workers a livable wage, but this additional language will only effect a small number of people and is only a weak nod to the philosophy of livable wage. It may also have negative effects, workers may not be hired back for a fifth year of service by management who know that their pay must increase to a livable wage.  We want the Committee and the Council to acknowledge the reality that many “seasonal” workers struggle to make a living through a patchwork of jobs, as opposed to the mythical collage student home for the summer.  These working people need our support.
While we commend the ordinance committee for strengthening elements of this ordinance and attempting to broaden scope by including some seasonal workers, the Peace & Justice Center is extremely troubled by the elimination of language around leased property at the airport.
The City Attorney’s report shows that the businesses that lease in the airport are by in large not paying a livable wage even though they have in their contracts the language about the livable wage law. Specifically Jet Blue Airways Corp., US Airways, Inc., United Airlines, Inc., and DELTA (Atlantic Coast Airlines) are not paying a livable wage to their employees. If the language referring to airport employees is eliminated from the ordinance we then leave baggage handlers, and their peers out of this benefit to working in a Burlington Facility.
Peace & Justice Center believes that the ordinance should apply to all leased properties and concessions.  If your business benefits from Burlington infrastructure, your employees deserve a livable wage.
The Peace & Justice Center is excited about the clarified exemption process, we urge the ordinance committee to require businesses who lease property at the airport to go through that process rather then giving them a pass without empirical evidence that they qualify for an exemption.
The next ordinance committee meeting is on Tuesday, October 1st at 5:30 p.m. at Burlington City Arts, Firehouse Center in the Lorraine B. Good Meeting Room, 135 Church St., next to City Hall in Burlington. Members from the Peace & Justice Center, the Vermont Workers’ Center, various union representatives and others who are passionate about workers’ rights will be there. Please join us and help spread the word.To view the PJC’s older statement on the Livable Wage Ordinance, click here

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