GreenStar Food Coop Becomes Largest Private Sector Living Wage Employer in Ithaca

(Ithaca) GreenStar Food Coop, with over 200 employees, has become the largest Living Wage Certified employer in Tompkins County that is not a government organization. The Tompkins County Living Wage is currently $15.37/hour, and there are now 124 certified employers.

“This is so significant because the grocery industry typically pays low wages,” said Pete Meyers, Coordinator, of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC). “The starting wage for grocery stores here is closer to $13/hour, well below a living wage. If GreenStar can pay $15.37, why can’t Wegmans? Why can’t Tops?  Why can’t P & C Fresh?”

GreenStar cashier, Noelia Springston, says: “In my 4+ years of part-time employment at GreenStar, I have enjoyed wild schedule flexibility, connecting with our wonderful member-owners and customers, and earning a living wage – now Living Wage, again! – which honors the value of my time and efforts. GreenStar can again be recognized for this important commitment to their employees.”

Says Brandon Kane, General Manager of GreenStar Food Coop: “GreenStar is proud to be recognized as a living wage employer. We believe that paying a living wage is critical to preserving human dignity and contributes significantly to a positive cooperative work environment. Our employees work hard to serve our community and we are happy to recognize them by making a living wage our minimum wage.”

Svante Myrick, Mayor of the City of Ithaca (also a Living Wage Employer) added: “I want to commend GreenStar Coop. This is not only important for workers there but also for our entire community. GreenStar has joined the City of Ithaca and 123 other employers in offering a living wage to all employees – and I want to offer a challenge to other employers that perhaps can afford to do the same.  If GreenStar can do it, can you?”

The Tompkins County Living Wage is calculated every two years by Alternatives Federal Credit Union—next update to come in April 2021–and is based on the typical costs of living in Tompkins County for a single person. More information from the Alternatives Living Wage study can be found here.  Living Wage Certification is a 15-year old program of TCWC that was the first in the U.S. to establish standards for certifying and encouraging employers to pay a living wage. More information can be found here.

TCWC is now working with seven other organizations around the country as part of the Living Wage Network to establish a national living wage movement and certification program.