Update on Living Wage Certification Project

This spring, the ICWJ will continue its work on the Living Wage Certification Project. This project will allow ICWJ to interview, certify, and publicize local businesses and restaurants that pay their workers a living wage and engage in fair labor practices. Through this project, the ICWJ hopes to encourage area employers to maintain good workplace environments.

A living wage, higher than the minimum wage, is a wage considered necessary to cover the basic needs of an individual.  Both the City of Madison and Dane County have established living wage amounts of $11.66 and $10.61, respectively. City employees, county employees, and workers contracted by the city and county are paid these wages. While this information provides a starting point for the Living Wage Certification Project, it also raises some questions.

Should employers be certified if they pay their employees a living wage, but fail to provide any health benefits or paid sick leave? What if employers fail to pay their workers a living wage, but offer health benefits? Should they be certified? And what about the restaurant industry? Servers are often paid $2.33 an hour, the minimum wage for tipped employees, but how do you evaluate their wages while taking their tips into consideration?

These and other considerations will be taken into account as the ICWJ establishes the guidelines for the project. These are the questions we’re asking, and we’re looking for your input. We’d love your voice to be part of the conversation. Please contact Intern Jenny Wustmann at jenny.wustmann@gmail.com to get involved.

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