The members of the Raise The Wage Coalition believe that working Vermonters deserve dignified, equitable working conditions. Anyone working 40 hours a week ought to be able to afford their basic needs.
Our state’s working standards should reflect the needs of working Vermonters and demonstrate that Vermont upholds the following principles:
A sustainable economy is an equitable economy. Economic growth should not come at the cost of paying workers less than the state’s livable wage.
All workers should earn a livable wage. The proposal to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024 would nearly align our minimum wage with the state’s livable wage as defined in statute*. An hourly wage of $15 in 2024 is projected to be worth approximately $13 in 2018 dollars, and the state’s livable wage for 2018 was $13.34 per hour. Raising the minimum wage to $15 in 2024 would help to meet this standard in all but a handful of regions in the state, where the average cost of living is higher — which is why we advocate for a strong social safety net for all workers.
No worker should be exempt from earning the minimum wage. Farm workers, domestic workers, tipped workers, workers with disabilities, high school students, and others should not be exempt from the minimum wage. We must address the unjust and inequitable aspects of our nation’s original minimum wage policies, which carved certain kinds of occupations out because of the dominant racial, gender, ableist, and other systemic biases.
The minimum wage is a racial, gender, and disability justice issue. Raising the minimum wage to a livable wage will help to address the wage and wealth gap for workers of color, women, and people with disabilities – all of whom are over-represented in low-wage employment. Bridging this racial, gender, and disability wealth gap will help to reduce the economic inequality that is holding back our entire economy.
The State of Vermont should pay all of its workers a livable wage without sacrificing the quality of or access to social services. Whether its own or contracted employees, the State should pay a livable wage and make appropriations to fully fund the cost of labor without making cuts to our social service programs.
Working people deserve both a livable wage as well as the paid time off that they need to care for themselves and their loved ones. Vermont should implement both a minimum wage increase and a paid family and medical leave insurance program. These are complementary policies — increasing our income tax base through raising wages will ensure the stability of this program — and neither of these policies should be used as a bargaining tool against the other.
* The state’s livable wage is based on a basic needs budget that allow a full-time employed worker to pay half of living expenses when sharing a one-bedroom apartment with another full-time employed worker, as long as they also have employer-provided health insurance.