This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
I am a member of the Longmont Living Wage Coalition. There is much
research on negative effects of low wages on public health as well as the
effects on the labor market, but rather than giving data, I would like to
make a personal observation. I have been an ally in the Boulder County
Circles Program, a volunteer with the OUR Center and now am a volunteer
with HOPE. Through these experiences, I have been amazed and dismayed at the number of people needing assistance in our community who are working full-time and many who are working 2 and 3 jobs. I have seen firsthand the toll low wages takes on people’s health and self-esteem. I have also seen the improvements in the lives of those who have been able to increase their wages. At one time, I erroneously assumed people needing public assistance were not working, for many reasons. But now, the phrase “the working poor” has taken on faces of people I know.
Increasing minimum wages to a living wage is a good start to improving
lives. I feel proud of the City of Longmont for its efforts already in
effect related to living wages for our full-time city employees. Now our
Coalition is asking the city to extend living wages to members of our
community who work for companies with whom the city has contracts by
inserting *a labor practices clause* with an index for timely increases
into these contracts. Your help is needed. Go to the website www.lwvbc.org
and look for “Longmont Living Wage Campaign.” Sign on as a supporter so
city council will see that we are a community who cares for the working
poor and want to improve the lives of those who work to keep our city
buildings and public grounds clean and well-maintained.
Mary Ann Watson
Longmont, CO 80503