Income inequality shouldn’t happen here

To the editor:

I encourage those interested in having Oberlin’s city council raise the minimum wage for our lowest paid hourly workers to attend a public work session at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21 at city hall.

There are only two questions of importance to ask: Is this the right thing to do; and does the city have the money? The answer is yes to both questions. Thirty-nine hourly and seasonal workers would be affected at a cost to the city of approximately $50,000. This is barely over one half of one percent of our city payroll.

We will be bringing in a new city manager with a handsome salary. He deserves and will earn every dollar. Last year, council voted itself a 67 percent raise. Surely we can provide similar support for our hourly workers. A worker paid $12.50 an hour would make about $21,000 a year, barely enough for an apartment or mortgage, a car, and basic necessities.

Income inequality and the unfair distribution of wealth in this country threaten the very basis of our democracy. It should not happen here in Oberlin.

It has been said by some council members that we should wait for a raise in the minimum wage to come from the state or federal governments. Oberlin is not a follower; we are a leader. We have led on issues of social and economic and environmental justice throughout our history. We have not waited for the state or federal governments when it came to banning fracking in Oberlin or opposing guns in our parks or in developing a Climate Action Plan.

Council’s job is to set policy. This is a policy long overdue. Our city workers contribute daily to the quality of life in our town. It is time to do the right thing and to recognize their hard work. Please urge council to raise the minimum wage for our lowest paid hourly workers.

Sharon Fairchild Soucy

Member, Oberlin City Council