WMU News

Living wage proposal to be explored by panel

November 5, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- The economics and ethics behind the proposed "living wage" -- a movement to provide workers with wages that allow them to live above the poverty line -- will be the focus of a panel presentation Wednesday, Nov. 11, at Western Michigan University.

"Building a Fair Economy: Dialogue on the Living Wage" will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 105/106 of the Bernhard Center. Representing different viewpoints on the panel will be Tim Bartik, senior economist, the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research; Dr. Emily P. Hoffman, WMU professor of economics; Tom Dietz, Kalamazoo Coalition for a Living Wage; and Dr. Donald E. Cooney, WMU associate professor of social work and a member of the Kalamazoo Coalition for a Living Wage. The free public presentation is sponsored by the WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Since 1973 average wages for nonsupervisory workers have declined 14 percent and there are significant numbers of people working full time but not earning wages that bring their families above the poverty line. As a result, grassroots campaigns for a living wage have surfaced nationwide, including in Kalamazoo. These campaigns argue that the federal minimum wage hasn't kept up with living standards and propose that cities enact ordinances requiring any business that receives money through city tax abatements or city contracts pay its workers a living wage. The Kalamazoo Coalition for a Living Wage estimates that in order to earn a Living Wage, employees must be paid at least $8.25 an hour by the year 2001.

For more information, contact the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at 616 387-4397.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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