September 17, 2013

Cornell Group, Ithacans Advocate for Living Wage

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By NOAH RANKIN

Chanting “What do we want? Living Wage! When do we want it? Now!”, more than 50 people — including labor advocates and students — gathered Tuesday in the City of Ithaca to rally for a living wage in Tompkins County.

A living wage is the minimum amount a worker must be paid an hour to be able to meet basic needs. Protesters who gathered Tuesday in front of the county legislature said the state’s minimum wage — which is currently $7.25 an hour — is not adequate enough to allow an average worker to live on a 40-hour week in Tompkins County, according to Pete Meyers, director and cofounder of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.

A living wage in Tompkins County is $12.62 an hour, according to the Alternatives Federal Credit Union. Though Tompkins County must pay at least a living wage to all of its own government employees, the requirement does not yet apply to contract workers, according to Meyers. As a result, approximately 25 percent of contract workers make less than living wage.

Photo: Connor Archard / Sun Senior PhotographerMembers of the Ithaca community and the Cornell Organization for Labor Action met downtown Tuesday to rally for an increase in the minimum wage in Tompkins County.

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