Living-wage “offsets” are questionable

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
Asheville

SHARE
About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster

8 thoughts on “Living-wage “offsets” are questionable

  1. bill smith

    [b]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.” [/b]

    “brought to light’ implies it was kept secret. Were employees not aware that they were being given free kombucha as part of their employment package?

  2. localworker

    I think “brought to light” means that the community was unaware that the living wage certification could be calculated by including food, parking spaces, other amenities as part of the ‘wage’, in order to lower the dollar amount that would have to be paid to the employee by some employers, but still allow them to be certified. Which could be considered false advertising unless this is well-publicized.

    In a certification program, which is meant to inform the public by its very nature, it’s important that consumers have all the details we need to understand the nature and value of the certification.

  3. It is quite clear what Kila means here. Bill Smith is still trying to argue that workers are completely free in our free market society to take whatever job they want to do and are free to accept the wage or find another job with better wages.

    So, with that in mind, I think I will be a ballerina now. Or maybe an astronaut. Or maybe a ballerina astronaut. That would be fun. Oh, and also I need a bunch of money for doing that. So, yeah. I’ll take that job now, please. Where do I sign?

  4. bill smith

    [b]Bill Smith is still trying to argue that workers are completely free in our free market society to take whatever job they want to do and are free to accept the wage or find another job with better wages[/b]

    I am not arguing that at all, and not sure where you get “still”.

    I am merely questioning Kila’s interpretation of events. Personally, I think its quite a misrepresentation .

    [b]Which could be considered false advertising unless this is well-publicized.[/b]

    False advertising would be saying something that isn’t true. Just because the public doesn’t take their time to make themselves acquainted with the definitions of the ‘certified’ products they buy does not make the standards necessarily misleading. What Just Economics did was not ‘false advertising’. If you are going to make that claim, then provide even a SHRED of evidence to prove it.

    You and Kiola just appear upset that the standards weren’t what you ASSUMED them to be.

  5. So, with that in mind, I think I will be a ballerina now. Or maybe an astronaut. Or maybe a ballerina astronaut. That would be fun. Oh, and also I need a bunch of money for doing that. So, yeah. I’ll take that job now, please. Where do I sign?

    If anyone is hiring for this position, I’ll do it for less money than Thad.

  6. A lot of these “feel good” or “do good” organizations are simply bait to get grants, public monies or other unsupervised funding. Any of these types of organizations IRS 990′s can now be reviewed to look closely at what the organization is doing or not doing with monies received.

  7. Bill, you have been bringing right-wing perspectives into every opportunity for as long as I have been visiting these comment pages.

    One purpose of journalism is to enlighten the general public about issues related to things in their community. Why? Because not everyone can be a journalist. It isn’t theoretically possible. That is why being a journalist is a full time job for just a few people in our society. I would say the original articles that appeared in the Mountain X did exactly what they were supposed to do: They enlightened readers on issues readers would not have even known to investigate themselves, even if they had the time and opportunity. That is exactly what defines journalism.

  8. bill smith

    [b]Bill, you have been bringing right-wing perspectives into every opportunity for as long as I have been visiting these comment pages.[/b]

    Ahahahahahhahah!!!!!

    Oh, wait, your serious? Right wing??

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.