I was deeply disappointed to read Jake Frankel's Aug. 24 Xpress article “Working It: Living Wages are Good for Business” which states “living wage — currently $11.35 per hour without health insurance or $9.85 per hour with it.”
This statement ignores the fine print in Just Economics' Living Wage Certification Program, which can be found on their website: “A Certified employer may use benefits that affect basic needs (food, housing, transportation, health care) as an offset to the wage criteria.” It is my understanding that many Living Wage Certified businesses utilize this “offset,” but supporters of Just Economics do not yet have access to what, aside from money, has been accepted by Just Economics as part of their living-wage standard. I was involved in the “controversy” referred to in the last paragraph of Frankel's article involving Buchi kombucha in 2010 (much of which unfolded in the pages of Mountain Xpress). The situation brought to light, among other things, the fact that Just Economics accepted Buchi paying their employees in bottles of kombucha as part of their “living wage.”
Concerned community members, myself among them, request that Just Economics follow up on their pledges of transparency by providing copies of certified applications (or at minimum the relevant details: what the certified employers are paying their employees) to Just Economics' financial supporters.
— Kila Donovan