On Tuesday, living wage activists will descend on the Chamber of Commerce, armed with toilet bowls to protest the Chamber’s opposition to a living wage. The protesters intend to set up several johns in front of the Chamber’s Market Street offices and offer $6.50 to anybody that’s willing to spend an hour scrubbing one of them. Even City Councilor Kevin Lynch will be attending to lend his support. It should be interesting to see how the Chamber handles the protesters.
One thought on “Protesters vs. Chamber of Commerce”
From: Waldo Jaquith
Date: 07/12/01, 5:04pm
Subject: Opt-In Living Wage
Like many people in Charlottesville, I have followed the recent living wage discussions with great interest. Our country has long walked the line between capitalist desires and socialist concerns, with outcomes largely depending on the political winds of the times. It\’s hard to say how the current debate in Charlottesville will end, though the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce\’s recent opposition to the proposed living wage ordinance may help kill the concept for the time being.
From statements in the press, I understand that the Chamber\’s opposition is based on a number of problems, including the questionable necessity and effectiveness of a living wage. And, of course, the Chamber is undoubtedly concerned with the potential effects that a living wage could have on local businesses forced to pay their employees an amount greater than they could afford. Despite this line of reasoning, you are clearly experiencing a bit of a public-image problem in the wake of this public opposition.
The Chamber of Commerce is no doubt aware of the potential benefits of a living wage, at least to the employees enjoying their newly-raised salary. Fortunately, there is a solution that will satisfy all parties involved.
I urge you to create an opt-in program, through which local businesses can affirm that they pay, and will continue to pay, a living wage to their employees. You could maintain a public listing (such as on your website) of all Charlottesville companies that have agreed to pay a living wage. This would serve as good public relations for companies that take part, and may encourage non-compliant companies to consider raising wages when they see their fellow businesses supporting their employees in this manner.
This system accomplishes three things. Firstly, and most important, it will encourage businesses to pay a living wage. Secondly, it avoids the problem of having a government-mandated living wage, which isn\’t something that the Chamber wants to support. Thirdly, it shows that the Chamber is interested in solving the problem of low wages in Charlottesville by using the reasonable and acceptable means of an optional system.
This is the best method of satisfying critics of a living wage and living wage proponents. I urge you and the Chamber Board to consider creating and promoting this simple system. Thank you for your time.
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