Reflections on a Living Wage

Monday was the 43rd Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  NYCC joined with several other organizations to commemorate the man and hold true to mission, that of justice, equality, and opportunity for every single one of us.  A Living Wage for one and all is just one example of NYCC keeping the Good Dr’s words relevant to today’s issues.

Dr. King was in Memphis, 43 years back, rallying and organizing sanitation workers with the AFSCME.  This was all part of the Good Reverend’s Poor People’s Campaign, one that sought to make sure all Americans had within their grasp such basic things as a decent job where they’re treated with dignity and respect, stable and sustainable housing, and equal rights for all.  The man, who famously foresaw his own fate, would not live to see his 40th birthday.  So if Every January on the third Monday / We pay homage to the man who paved the way / For freedom, justice and equality, on April 4th we remember his struggles for economic and social justice, and resolve to finish the good Doctor’s work.

Part of that for us here at NYCC is fighting for a Living Wage .  What’s a living wage, and why is this fight so important?  New York takes their cue from the US Government and sets a floor on wages legally earned by all residents of the state, a minimum wage currently pegged at $7.25/hr.  Which is probably A-OK for a kid living in his mother’s basement whose major expenses are Homefront or GTA IV; or if you live in North Dakota.  For an adult living in NYC and trying to make their own way in the world?  Fat chance.

The Living Wage calculates the actual cost of living living and working, and eating and sleeping, and shopping and existing in New York.  It sets the full-time minimum wage at $10.00/hr w/ benefits or $11.50/hr w/o benefits.  This wage gets adjusted as prices rise, conditions change, and reflects the pure fact that NYC is one very expensive place to work, live, shop, raise a family, etc.

Let’s compare living in the Manhattan we all know and love to living in Manhattan, KS; Manhattan, IL; Manhattan, MT, and Manhattan, NV:

Single Adult in Food Housing Adj Living Wage
Manhattan, NY $232 $1185 $11.86
Manhattan, IL $237 $840 $9.96
Manhattan, KS $212 $463 $7.00
Manhattan, MT $212 $552 $7.57
Manhattan, NV $237 $596 $8.21

All of which explains why the living wage figure for NYC is $4.61/hr more than the current figure.  I mean, sure it costs less to live in Manhattan, KS… but then you’re living in Kansas.

Back to yesterday’s rallies: We were joined in our call for a Living Wage by none other than Martin Luther King III, scion of the King Family.  Hundreds joined together at both the Bethel Baptist Church in Brooklyn and the Bronx Pentecostal Deliverance Center, all of us together making sure NYC’s City Council knows we expect them to deliver wage and economic relief for thousands of New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet.

If you weren’t there, you should have been… It’s always a great feeling joining with friends and neighbors to make New York a better place to live, and doing so while paying homage to one of the great shining lights of America’s March for Equality just helped us all realize just how far we’ve come, and how much further we need to travel until everyone gets a fair shot at the American Dream.

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2 Responses to Reflections on a Living Wage

  1. Pingback: NYCC Members and the Living Wage | NYCC East New York

  2. Pingback: Walmart: Broken promises. Every Way. On Everything. | NYCC East New York

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