Responding to NYS Assembly Speaker Silver’s Call for a Minimum Wage of $8.50/hour, the Tompkins County Workers’ Center Calls for a Minimum Wage That Is a Living Wage!

The Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC) agrees with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other lawmakers in Albany that the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour cannot cover the basic needs of workers in New York. However, the minimum wage proposed by Speaker Silver, $8.50 an hour, is not enough of a change: it is time to embrace a Living Wage as the Minimum Wage.

The TCWC, originally called the Living Wage Coalition, proposes that the Minimum Wage be raised to $12.78/hour. $12.78 an hour is the Living Wage that is calculated biannually by Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca as the amount that a single person working 40 hours per week, without health insurance, needs to make in order to provide their basic human needs without accessing governmental services.

Raising the minimum wage to a Living Wage would meaningfully stimulate the economy; lower-earning workers spend their increased wages on necessary goods and services, thereby creating more jobs. Such workers would pay down their debts more successfully and pay increased taxes benefitting state and local government.

Says TCWC Community Organizer, Linda Holzbaur: “I ask you to really put yourself in the shoes of the full time worker with a family to support, living on $8.50 an hour. How could you possibly make ends meet? Anything less than a Living Wage in a wealthy society such as ours is simply unconscionable.”