On Aug. 25, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle declared Labor Day "Living Wage Day" to promote paying workers fairly.
Lavelle said Labor Day makes the perfect Living Wage Day because it highlights working traditions. She said the nonprofit organization Orange County Living Wage asked her and other town officials to issue a proclamation focused on the benefits of livable wages.
“Carrboro has had a living wage for a while, so the proclamation was just to increase awareness regarding the importance of having a living wage,” she said.
She said it was important for employers and employees to respect each other in order to have a mutually beneficial environment.
“By having a living wage, you get a workforce that knows you value them and that is more invested in the jobs they secure,” Lavelle said. “Businesses that have enforced a living wage policy see that employees are more likely to stick around longer.”
Carrboro is a very expensive community and affordability is a persistent issue, Board of Aldermen member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said. She said she would like to see Carrboro's living wage raised to 15 dollars.
“I’m hoping that the federal minimum wage will go up and that more communities become inspired by what Carrboro’s community is doing,” she said.
O'Donnell said city representatives must be able to serve both those who suffer from poverty and those who live below the median income.
Many Carrboro families work full-time jobs or sometimes multiple jobs to try and make ends meet, said Susan Romaine, steering committee chair for Orange County Living Wage.
“Many of them are making close to minimum wage and it’s always bothered me that people can be working their hardest, yet still need to rely so heavily on supplemental food,” Romaine said. “We as a community firmly believe that working families should be able to provide for their basic needs such as food, clothes, transportation and childcare.”
Romaine said publicizing which businesses have implemented a living wage policy will not only promote awareness, but also support those employers.
“We are trying to create more awareness about those businesses in the community that have stepped up and are now paying their full-time employees a living wage,” Romaine said. "The idea being that these employers are doing such a great service to the community and we need to support those employers by bringing them customers.”
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