(CAROLINE, NY) The Caroline Town Board , by a 4-1 vote, has called on the Tompkins County Legislature to move toward establishing the Living Wage as the Minimum Wage for all employees working within the county borders. The vote took place at the Caroline Town Board meeting on Wednesday evening, February 10th.
Caroline is the third local government body to heed the call of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) which has been organizing to mandate the county’s Living Wage of $14.34 as the new Minimum Wage. Both the Town and the City of Ithaca previously also voted (in both cases, unanimously) to also endorse a County Living Wage.
“With over one-third of the children at Caroline Elementary School in families with incomes so low that they qualify for the free lunch program,” said Pete Meyers, TCWC Coordinator, “it is clear that the lack of a Living Wage impacts deeply on the population of the Town.”
Town Board member Irene Weiser added: “Because the cost of living varies from community to community, municipalities should be allowed to set a living minimum wage for their residents. I urge Tompkins County to play a leadership role in pointing New York in this important new direction.”
See Text of the Resolution below:
Caroline Town Board – Support of the Living Wage as the Minimum Wage across Tompkins County – Resolution
WHEREAS, it is one of our most cherished values that there is dignity in work; and
WHEREAS, raising incomes is critical to providing economic mobility and opportunity for working families; and
WHEREAS, the growth in income inequality in recent years has created serious divisions within our society and community; and
WHEREAS, Tompkins County is becoming increasingly two counties with a portion of the population thriving while many more face low wages, growing inequality, erosion of middle-class jobs, staggering housing costs, and the institutionalization of a low-wage service economy; and
WHEREAS, failure to pay workers a living wage is a major problem within the Town of Caroline resulting in 38% of students at Caroline Elementary poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch; and
WHEREAS, a full-time minimum wage worker in New York State earns $18,720 at the current minimum wage of $9.00/hour, an income significantly below the current living wage in Tompkins County of $29,827; and
WHEREAS, a higher minimum wage across Tompkins County would increase spending on locally produced goods and services by workers benefiting from such increased wages, which, in turn would produce greater demand and help stimulate the local economy; and
WHEREAS, a higher minimum wage would reduce the cost of providing social services in the Town of Caroline and Tompkins County; and
WHEREAS, our community has a proud tradition of advocating for worker rights and promoting economic justice; and
WHEREAS, we as a community and we as a country can no longer accept wages that leave some without hope of rising up and unable to support themselves nor their families; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Town of Caroline requests that the Tompkins County Legislature pass a local minimum-wage law establishing the Tompkins County Living Wage (currently $14.34/hour) as the minimum wage; phasing the new minimum wage in over a four year period; and indexing it to changes in the Tompkins County Living Wage thereafter; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Town of Caroline supports Tompkins County further passing a home-rule request to New York State seeking the authority to implement such a local minimum wage; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Town of Caroline calls on the New York State Legislature to pass promptly said home-rule request; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Tompkins County Legislature, the Tompkins County Council of Governments, New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, New York State Senator James Seward, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.