I just read that the newly defined living wage in Buncombe County is $13.65 per hour ($12.15 with health insurance). It may be beyond the city’s power to enforce this wage (thanks to our dysfunctional parent, the state of North Carolina), but perhaps protests and group efforts could force at least the downtown hotels to pay all their employees at least this amount.
All the talk about the benefits of tourism on Asheville is justified, as anyone who remembers Asheville of the 1990s can attest, but those benefits haven’t been distributed equally to residents. A living wage would go a long way to correct that.
And I believe the current room rates support this raise. If downtown hotels are getting $600 a night (a night!), then some of that money should trickle down to the workers supporting that establishment. I’m not commenting on the hotel moratorium; I’m focused here on the sharing of those proceeds — yes, a redistribution (however slight) of the wealth so that local workers can at least afford to live here.
As real estate prices climb and cost of living goes up and up, the only solution is to pay workers more. You can’t make the argument that this wage increase would cripple a hotel that’s getting $600 a night even part of the year. My two cents.
— Mark H. Bloom