FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2016
Athens for Everyone Delivers Petition Demanding Living Wages for All ACCUG Employees
At the February 16th Mayor and Commission Agenda Setting meeting, Athens for Everyone submitted a petition containing approximately 650 signatures from residents and Athens workers. The petition demands that the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government pay all part-time, seasonal and temporary county employees a Living Wage of at least $10.17 per hour. This wage correlates with the MIT Living Wage calculator as the minimum hourly wage a single Athenian without dependents needs in order to pay all of their necessary expenses.
Following the precedent set in a previous year’s budget goal, ACCUG pays all full-time employees a living wage, but many part-time and seasonal workers remain underpaid. Athens for Everyone began circulating a petition in October calling on the county to expand their living wage policy, quickly garnering hundreds of signatures of support on paper and online. Following an October rally downtown and with interest quickly mounting, Athens for Everyone put out the call to “fill the room” for a living wage. At the November 3rd Mayor and Commission meeting, dozens of Athenians attended to show their support and filled every available seat. The people spoke and our local representatives listened; Living Wages were included in the Goals and Objectives for the FY 2017 budget.
“The people of Athens care about Living Wages,” said A4E Workers Rights Campaign Coordinator Drew Hooks. “When we were in the community collecting signatures, people from all political persuasions said they thought workers should be paid living wages, not poverty wages. In fact, many people said our modest goal of $10.17 was not enough.”
Georgia law prohibits cities and counties from setting a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage, but the Unified Government can ensure their employees are paid at least a living wage. By paying a living wage to all their employees, ACCUG is setting an example to the University of Georgia and other employers in the county. By demanding Living Wages, Athens workers are sending a message that the people of Athens deserve better than poverty wages. The people of Athens have spoken loud and clear, it is time for the ACCUG and other employers in the county to listen.
However, after submitting the petition Mayor Nancy Denson stated, “ I think that we all have every intention to bring all of those people to that living wage level.” With this news, Athens for Everyone will continue pushing for an ACC Living Wage Policy until one is in place ensuring all ACC County Employees earn a Living Wage.by