Living Wage Strategies
After IAF-East affiliates designed and passed the nation’s first living wage bill in Baltimore in 1994, West and Southwest IAF organizations soon organized for local living wage ordinances of their own. In 1998, Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) / Metro Alliance leaders succeeded in getting the City of San Antonio to institute a city-wide tax abatement ordinance requiring companies that benefit from municipal tax incentives to pay a living wage, with benefits. COPS / Metro leaders later fought the building of a hotel in the City that refused to meet the newly instituted living wage standard, effectively shutting the project down.
In 2009, Valley Interfaith in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas likewise leveraged commitments from Cameron County, the City of Brownsville and the Texas Southernmost (community College to raise the starting wages of their employees (including contracted) by over $1 per hour. In a similar vein, Austin Interfaith has made a living wage (plus benefits and a career pathway) part of the public discussion on subsidy deals with the City of Austin, succeeding in ensuring that an incoming orthopedic company would guarantee a minimum wage of $35,000 per year plus benefits.
“Valley Interfaith: Candidates Held Accountable,” Brownsville Herald (2009)
“Incentives for Business Should Come With Return,” Austin American-Statesman (2009)
“Who Picks Up the Slack for City’s Incentives?”Austin American-Statesman (2009)
“Bishop Peña: Valley Interfaith Turning Region from ‘Tragic Valley’ to ‘Magic Valley,’”Rio Grande Guardian (2008)
“2 Groups & Tax-Abatement Moratorium,” San Antonio Express News (1997)
“Abatements Debate Leads to Other Issue,” San Antonio Express News (1997)