Self-Sufficiency 2016

“A living wage is more a statement of the values of the City of Boulder when it contracts out services, that it will expect its contractors to pay a living wage, to pay a decent amount.”

Self-Sufficiency 2016 is a coalition of Boulder residents working to raise wages and improve benefits for all city workers, including those employed by companies with city contracts.

Efforts to introduce a living wage are being supported by Claire Levy, Executive Director of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.  The CCLP released a 2015 self-sufficiency standard which shows how much workers need to earn to be fully self-sufficient – not relying on any form of government assistance – in every county in the state. “It takes into account what HUD has determined to be fair market rents in every county, it takes childcare costs, transportation, healthcare, all of those basic living expenses into account to determine what is basically a living wage.”

On February 16, 2016 City Council will vote on city wages which would impact several hundred employees, some who are currently working for $8.50 an hour. “You basically can’t live in Boulder at that wage. A single adult who would be the household composition who could most likely live in Boulder (County) at the lowest wage – even that takes $13.36 an hour.”

The Self-Sufficiency Boulder coalition is looking at a household of 2 adults and 2 children “our standards show needs $17.97 an hour and that assumes you have two earners and it assumes you have access to employer sponsored health insurance and it also assumes that you can actually rent a two-bedroom apartment for $1232 a month, which most people know is impossible.”

Levy, who is a former state legislator representing House District 13, says that state law prohibits having a minimum wage that would be community wide, but she says Boulder has an opportunity to embrace a living wage as a statement of its values  “a living wage is more a statement of the values of the City of Boulder when it contracts out services, that it will expect its contractors to pay a living wage, to pay a decent amount, and that Boulder won’t save tax payer dollars, get the lowest possible contract that it can get, to save money, knowing that that means that people who are cleaning our rec centers, who are cleaning our municipal buildings are not being paid enough to support their families.”

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There will be a forum on a Living Wage held at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, February 10th. (that will be broadcast on KGNU on Wednesday February 24th, at 8.35am.  On  Monday January 25th, at 8.35am on A Public Affair, Erika Stuzman with the Community Foundation will hold an expanded discussion on a Living Wage.

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