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Lawrence wants living wage registry for businesses

May 15, 2018

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence officials are considering a voluntary registry that would inform the public which local businesses pay a living wage.

Resident Mike Wasikowski told the Lawrence City Commission last week about the idea of a living wage registry, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Some Lawrence residents struggle to cover basic living expenses such as housing, food and child care, according to Wasikowski. He said a registry would inform the public and let residents know where they could find jobs that help them afford a basic quality of life.

“Customers and business patrons like myself can choose to spend their money at businesses that they know are paying (Lawrence residents) a living wage,” he said. “Because we pride ourselves on being a progressive and inclusive community, but we can’t uphold that ideal while thousands of us struggle just to live in Lawrence.”

Wasikowski also mentioned that a similar program began this month in Kansas City, Missouri. That registry has about 10 businesses so far. Kansas City residents voted last year to set the city’s minimum wage at $10 an hour, and to gradually increase the rate to $15 an hour by 2022.

Lawrence Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen and Commissioners Jennifer Ananda and Matthew Herbert expressed interest in the concept and examining the Kansas City program.

But even a voluntary registry may be unfair to businesses that can’t meet the standard, said Steve Kelly, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce. He also said it would be difficult to keep track of some industries, such as businesses with employees who are paid partly in tips.

“To me, it’s almost trying to accomplish what might be a positive goal through a shaming process, which just doesn’t seem right to me,” Kelly said.

Herbert said the registry is the city’s opportunity to help reward businesses that pay a living wage, which is $7.25 an hour in Kansas.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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