Archive for May 1st, 2013

May Day: Thank A Wage Earner For Their Service!

Good Morning Woodstock Early Birds. It’s a beautiful May Day out there — Blue sky, sunshine, some magnolia blossoms out there (Yes, even in Vermont) and other pretty spring things like violets and daffodils.

We are also thinking about our wage-earners today. Minimum wage in Vermont is $8.60.

Ask yourself, could you support yourself on 40 hours at $8.60?  Do YOU support yourself on 40 hours?

Doubtful. It’s likely that many Vermonters are having to work many more hours — several jobs, in fact, if they are in the tourism and hospitality business, to serve us all and our visiting guests. May Day is traditionally a day for celebrating the working public and workers’ rights.

We thank many local businesses who are committed to paying their people more than the minimum wage. We know it is hard to balance a successful business with more pay. But think about the value of our community members — most who can’t afford to live in Woodstock. Frankly, $9/$10/$11/hour is just not cutting it.

Fact is, waay back four years ago, in 2009, the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign suggested that in order to make ends meet, a single person would need to be making $16.41 an hour or close to $35,000 a year to make ends meet (forget about savings) — and that’s IF their employer is paying the majority of their health insurance costs. Take that away and you’d need to add a couple more dollars an hour — putting  a living wage close to twice our Vermont minimum. Yup, our minimum is more than New Hampshire and other States’, but really, that’s not the point.

One of Woodstock’s current issues is how do we attract businesses that can support workers with living wages so they might settle here, buy homes, have kids, support the schools, pay taxes and improve our community’s well-being?

On this lovely Spring day, at the very least, if you are served by someone working hard out there, no matter what their job, probably earning not a whole lot, or even if they are — Thank Them! Appreciate Them!

As we all know, it’s hard to get up and go to work every day — especially if the financial fruits of your labors are not that great. But lots of our neighbors do it every day — and do it with good humor and grace.

Maybe we can figure out a way, in the future, to pay our workers more, get closer if we can to a living wage — so that they’re not overworked, unable to see their families, unable to pay for heating, cars, education or even afford a home — not to mention, hey, what a concept, take a vacation!  Does stress affect workers? You bet it does. Financial stress is a constant and it may even be a burden to our employees productivity.

Sure, easy to say, but think about it, for very real reasons, we need to give every wage earner a RAISE!

Here is a graphic from a 2009 report from the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign:

The Vermont Livable Wage Campaign uses the average between the urban and rural figures.

2009 Livable Wage: Basic Needs + Taxes
(all figures per wage with employer-assisted health insurance)
Family Unit
 Hourly   Annual
wage   wage
 Hourly   Annual
wage   wage
 Hourly   Annual
wage   wage
Two adults, no children  $13.04   $54,246
each     HH income*
 $13.10   $54,496
each    HH income*
 $13.07    $54,371each      HH income*
Single person, no children  $16.41    $34,132  $17.08   $35,526  $16.75    $34,840
Single parent, one child  $23.04    $47,923  $25.04    $52,083  $24.04   $50,003
Single parent, two children  $28.58    $59,446  $31.37    $65,250  $29.98   $62,358
Two parents, one wage earner,two children (assumes no childcare)  $30.11    $62,629  $31.23    $64,958  $30.67   $63,794
Two parents, two wage earners,two children  $18.75   $78,000each       HH income*  $20.07    $83,491each    HH income*  $19.41   $80,746each      HH income*

*HH = Household

2009 LW Source: Basic Needs Report 2009, Vermont Joint Fiscal Office, January 2009 Study.

Note: The JFO assumes the employer pays 84% if health insurance premium for single persons and 73% for families premium costs. Without health insurance, workers must pay these costs out of pocket and the livable wage increases by $2 to 6/ hour.