Living Wage Campaign launches in Harrisonburg Monday

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)— One local organization is hoping to encourage others in the valley to pay their employees a living wage.

The Harrisonburg-Rockingam Living Wage Campaign launched Monday when they announced certification for six local organizations. | Credit: WHSV

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Living Wage Campaign launched Monday, something the organization has been working on behind the scenes for about a year. On Monday, six organizations were certified for offering their employees a living wage. Now, they're hoping to get more businesses certified.

"Living wages are crucial for people to be able to provide for themselves and their families," Amanda Silcox, economic justice program manager for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy said. "And we know that right now, the minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25 and that's just insufficient."

The VICPP has helped to start these campaigns around the state. One launched in Charlottesville on Monday as well. The Harrisonburg-Rockingham wage campaign is hoping to certify businesses who pay their workers a living wage. A variety of organizations are certified already at different levels, based on the benefits they offer. Trinity Presbyterian Church is certified at the silver level, meaning pay $12.50 an hour, or $11 an hour plus health care.

"We see it as a big justice issue," Stephanie Sorge, pastor at Trinity said. "We think it's important that all people are able to meet their basic needs through employment if possible."

Chris Hoover Seidel, who is on the steering committee, said Labor Day was a great time to raise awareness about the program.

"We really want people to earn more money for their labor," Hoover Seidel said. "We want them to pay their basic necessities, especially low income workers."

Rebekah Nolt works for Trinity Presbyterian Church. Nolt says a living wage is important for helping people focus on work.

"Being paid a living wage means that I can focus on doing my job and caring for people and not having to worry about whether or not I'm going to be able to make ends meet and take care of myself too in the process," Nolt said.

Silcox and Hoover Seidel hope the businesses already certified will help encourage others in the valley to apply.

"These programs will be a model for employers so that they know what really a living wage is," Silcox said. "And we hope that this will be a standard for people to set their starting wages at."

If you'd like to learn more about the campaign, or if you're a business who wants to get certified, you can check out their website here