On April 24, the Daily News-Record published an Open Forum entitled “Living Wage Needed Now More Than Ever.” A living wage is the amount that a single individual must earn hourly to afford their basic necessities, without public or private assistance. A Living Wage Certified Employer is one that is accepted in our program and meets the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Living Wage Certification program criteria. I reported that the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Living Wage Certification Program had certified 14 businesses as paying an Aspiring Wage at $11, a Silver Wage at $12.50, and/or a Gold Wage at $15. We now have certified The Frame Factory at 139 N. Liberty Street as an Aspiring Wage Employer. The Aspiring Living Wage is designed to encourage employers to commit to raise wages over a two-year period.
H-R Living Wage Campaign certified Arcoiris Day Care as an Aspiring Living Wage Employer in December. The owner just emailed me, asking me to change her status from the Aspiring Level to the Gold Level. Arcoiris Day Care reopened on June 15, and she will increase the wage of her employee from $11 to $15 an hour. A direct quote from her email, “in order to somehow compensate for her having to work during the pandemic.” We celebrate Arcoiris Day Care moving up to the Gold Certified Level. Congratulations Arcoiris! Arcoiris didn’t wait two years! In her email, Paloma Saucedo stated, “At Arcoiris we are committed to live by the values we strive to instill in our children. We are not only committed to being actively inclusive, anti-racist and pro-community, we also believe we must pay a living a wage to our employees, especially during this difficult time.” If you would like for your business to be certified go to www.hrlivingwage.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without accessible and affordable child care — which is already very expensive — many parents will be forced to stay home to care for their children instead of going back to work when the economy reopens. Child care centers are more essential than ever, yet they are not getting the funds they need to survive the lockdowns. Not only is this bad for parents — it’s bad for the economy as a whole, as it removes workers from the economy, lowers demand for child care jobs, and slows local economic recovery.
Recently, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the “Child Care is Essential Act” to Congress, which creates a $50 billion child care stabilization fund that would help businesses reopen and pay staff, help working families in need, and prevent child care centers from closing. This crucial act will help families get back to work safely and make sure child care centers can cover costs during this crisis — which could mean a long recovery time. Solving this crisis will play a critical role in helping our economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Please encourage Rep. Ben Cline to support the Child Care is Essential Act.
Ramona Sanders lives in Harrisonburg.