CU Active In Efforts To Update 'Liveable Wage'

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The amount that constitutes a "livable wage" in this city has gotten a boost. Leni Hochman, Chief Operations Officer of Alternatives Federal Credit Union, which has been active in efforts to support the concept of a livable wage-the amount needed by a full-time worker to support himself as the result of his labor-is now $18,061, up from $17,540. Alternatives FCU is among the employers that seek to pay their employees at least a livable wage.

"We're very proud that our study...has stimulated important discussion about the meaning of earning a livable wage and has provided a benchmark for others to use in advocating for higher starting wages," said Hochman.

In reviewing the list of what it costs to live in Tompkins County, N.Y., Hochman said, "Recreation and Entertainment may be the most controversial line, because it's more subjective than the others."

Hochman suggested that $25.60.week for such things as newspaper, magazine subscriptions, books, computers and an occasional video, isn't very extravagant. Hochman said. "We consider it a quality of life issue."

Savings stayed at $50 a month in the Livable Wage calculations, but the Alternatives FCU Board has recommended that the figure increase with inflation in future studies.

During a press conference, Carl Feuer, organizer for the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition said the Alternatives study had a profound impact on the community.

"It has been used as an important standard for union negotiations," he noted. "Para-professionals in the local school district now earn $2 more an hour because of the 2000 Living Wage Study. Child care and human services workers working for non profit agencies that contract with the county now receive a living wage."

Copies of the Alternatives FCU study can be viewed at www.alternatives.org- livable.html.

For further information contact Leni Hochman at Alternatives Federal Credit Union, 607-273-4611 Ext 818.

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