Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Two places where paying a living wage is good for everyone’s bottom line

Black Star Co-op, the first cooperatively owned microbrewery-restaurant in the country, offers their “worker’s assembly” a wage of at least $16 a hour. (Photo credit: Good.is)

Curious, isn’t it, how the same folks who oppose government income support (i.e., welfare) also can’t stomach a wage standard that ensures people can earn a decent living for a day’s work?

Fortunately, there are some real-life examples of businesses out there proving the point that paying workers well is good for everyone’s bottom line.

One is Black Star Co-op (Austin, Texas):

Upon first glance, Austin’s Black Star Co-op in Austin looks like any normal hipster restaurant serving craft beers and creative pub food like portobello burgers and redfish po’ boys. But as a former waitress, I immediately noticed what was missing: a tip jar. When I inquired, the bartender told me he didn’t take tips. Why? Because he makes a living wage.

Another is Alta Gracia, owned by Knight’s Apparel (Dominican Republic):

In the summer of 2010, Alta Gracia set up a factory in the Dominican Republic that employs 125 unionized employees making t-shirts and hoodies for Georgetown, NYU and the like. Employees are paid $510 a month (roughly 340 percent of the country’s minimum wage), an amount verified by the WRC to provide for a household’s basic needs and allow for modest savings.

A living wage (a.k.a. self-sufficiency wage) is particularly important to women, who are increasingly both breadwinners and mainstays of home life.

Wondering what a living wage is closer to home? Here’s a handy Self-Sufficiency Calculator that will show you what families of various sizes and compositions need to earn in order to live in each of Washington’s counties.

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