The OC Voice is a portion of the OC Report newsletter where local residents may have a platform to talk about local issues they care about. This column is also part of a series of columns by local government candidates. Susan Romaine is running for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.
North Carolina’s $7.25 minimum wage has not budged for ten years. That’s right, no increase for skyrocketing rent payments and health insurance premiums, for the higher cost of cell phones, groceries, and utilities. The minimum wage has been stuck at $15,000 a year for an entire decade!
Who are minimum wage workers? They are disproportionately women of color and over the age of 20. Many are refugees and immigrants. They wash dishes and work the cash register at fast food restaurants. They care for our children and aging parents. They bag groceries and stock shelves. They wash cars and power wash houses. They clean our bathrooms, classrooms and board rooms. They are the people who help us every day.
Too many work more than one job but still cannot make ends meet. Some live in their cars to save on rent, joining the growing ranks of the “working homeless.” From paycheck to paycheck, their lives are filled with constant worry and the health complications that go along with that.
That’s why I joined with friends four years ago to form Orange County Living Wage. If our state legislature wouldn’t act, we would. Our nonprofit organization recognizes and certifies employers who voluntarily pay workers a living wage – $14.25 this year, nearly double the minimum wage. In turn, we do our best to promote them through social media, our website, newsletters, brochures, storefront decals and more.