Editor's note: This commentary is an open letter to Gov. Phil Scott from the Raise The Wage Coalition. Member organizations are listed below the letter.
Dear Gov. Phil Scott:
It is time for you to make good on promises to make Vermont livable for everyone — regardless of their community or county.
A long-overdue raise in Vermont’s minimum wage to $12.55 an hour by 2022 will benefit close to 40,000 people in Vermont: families struggling to meet their bills despite working two, three, and four jobs; individuals who want to stay here but can’t earn enough to make ends meet.
Given the strong majorities in both the House and Senate — not to mention support from a majority of Vermonters — it now comes down to just you. Will you listen to the thousands of workers asking for their labor to be compensated fairly? Or will you tell them to do more with less, and allow their families to struggle to meet basic needs?
Raising the minimum wage to be in line with the state’s livable wage policies is about more than just a paycheck -- it’s about dignity, it’s about ensuring that kids don’t go hungry, that we keep people here in Vermont rather than leaving the state.
Raising the minimum wage is an issue of gender, racial, LGBTQ, and disability rights and an issue of equity and inclusion — something that the Raise the Wage Coalition, a group of community and faith-based organizations, as well as business owners, believes in wholeheartedly.
At 53.5 percent, women are a disproportionate share of Vermonters who earn less than $11 an hour. As reported by Change The Story, their median age is 38 years old, and 28 percent have at least some post-secondary education. Raising the wage would decrease the gender wage gap in Vermont, as well as wage disparities related to race and ability.
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.
The coalition also believes our state’s employment standards should reflect the needs of working Vermonters and uphold a series of key principles, the first of which is: 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.
Everyone benefits when more people have money in their pocket — individuals, families, as well as local businesses. In fact, this raise in the minimum wage will add $121 million to workers’ pockets that will go directly into the local economy.
So, Gov. Scott - please make the right choice, the moral choice, and raise Vermont’s minimum wage by signing this bill into law and strengthening our state for everyone.
Vermonters can not afford to wait any longer.
ACLU - Vermont
Green Mountain Labor Council
LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
Rights and Democracy
United Valley Interfaith Project
Vermont AFL CIO
Vermont Center for Independent Living
Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights
Vermont Interfaith Action
Vermont Legal Aid
Vermont State Employees Association
Vermont Workers Center
Vermont Works For Women
Voices for Vermont's Children