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Funds Recommended to Support Payment of Living Wage at Recycling and Solid Waste Center

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Funds Recommended to Support Payment of Living Wage at Recycling and Solid Waste Center

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Legislature’s Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, in a unanimous 5-0 vote, today recommended the Legislature allocate $20,000 to support payment of the living wage to contract employees at the County Recycling and Solid Waste Center.

Casella Waste Systems, Inc., which operates the Recycling and Solid Waste Center under a ten-year contract with the County, has committed to pay the living wage to its employees, beginning in 2015.  The measure recommends the Legislature allocate the $20,000 in supplemental funding to the 2015 Solid Waste Division budget, which will enable workers at the Center to be paid the living wage. 

The 2014 living wage in Tompkins County, as established by Alternatives Federal Credit Union, is $12.62 per hour if employees receive health insurance coverage and $13.94 if they do not.  Casella estimates a cost of approximately $105,000 per year to raise the pay of the employees to living wage. 

The County’s Living Wage policy, adopted in 2003, encourages contractors to pay a living wage to employees wherever practical and reasonable.  Last year, the Legislature set aside $100,000 in contingent funding to potentially support efforts to increase the level of attainment of the living wage goal by contractors providing services to the County. 

Casella has agreed to provide additional services to the County, including support for expanded reuse activities.

In moving the resolution, Legislator Carol Chock said, “It is fitting that the contractor and the County worked to achieve a livable wage because it is in the interests of all of us that anybody who works be able to support their own basic expenses.”

Committee Chair Kathy Luz Herrera praised the top-level administrative commitment by County to pursue the attainment of living wages for contract workers, and encouraged such efforts to continue with other County contract organizations.  Legislator Jim Dennis also expressed his appreciation for the work that has been done over many months to address the living wage issue.

It was the issue wages for contract employees at the Recycling and Solid Waste Center that prompted the County in 2013 to perform an in-depth review of its decade-old Living Wage policy and its level of attainment, as applied to County contracts.

The recommended allocation will be considered by the full Legislature at its January 6 meeting.