Living Wage Virginia, a project of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, is partnering with Living Wage For US to provide Virginia businesses with dual certification. The two joined forces and just rolled out the new certification process on December 20, 2023.
“At Living Wage For US, our mission is to ensure working families everywhere can afford a decent standard of living and basic human rights. We’re thrilled to launch the On-Up dual certification program with our partners at Virginia Interfaith Center and within the Living Wage Network because these partnerships will accelerate progress toward this goal. Together, we will connect with more employers, increase incentives for paying a living wage, and raise awareness of this important work,” said Michelle Murray, founder and CEO of Living Wage For US. “On-Up is an excellent example of how we can move onwards and upwards, together.”
The partnership introduces a standardized way of certifying businesses as living wage employers. Any interested employer in Virginia can apply for the dual certification. Employers who are currently certified under the old Living Wage Virginia standard will be given a grace period if they choose to recertify through the new standard.
Jase Hatcher, Economic Justice Program Manager at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says “Living Wage Virginia has always maintained that Virginia can be the best state for both businesses and workers. We’re excited to utilize the global gold standard for living wage certification and believe this will continue to move the Commonwealth forward.”
As you shop for your loved ones this holiday season, you can make a positive impact by purchasing gifts from companies that pay their employees a living wage! Use this guide to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
You can browse through the guide and shop directly on the companies’ websites, or if you happen to live in the area, stop by in person! All companies in this guide ship across the U.S. These really are the gifts that keep on giving.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
What is the Living Wage Network?
The Living Wage Network is composed of U.S.-based organizations that encourage and certify employers that pay a living wage, significantly impacting the lives of thousands of low-wage workers across the country. We will lift up and support the work done by our partners, while growing and expanding local and state-based living wage projects. By linking organizations across the nation and creating a formalized network, we can expand and support the movement for living wages, and lift up employers who believe it is good business to pay livable wages to all workers.
Living Wage for US has been part of the Living Wage Network since 2022 and is happy to collaborate with the Network to highlight companies across the United States that are paying their employees a living wage. We believe the living wage movement needs the involvement of local communities as much as it needs the support of our global partners that join us in the Global Living Wage Affiliate Network. Check out our Partners page to see how we collaborate with organizations on the local, national, and global level.
Living Wage For US (LW4US) offers more than living wage benchmarks and certification. We also provide valuable research, tools and guidance so that employers have the tools and support they need to move forward toward a living wage for all workers in the most cost-effective ways possible. Our goal is to make living wage payment a decision that benefits employers, workers and communities.
LW4US has assessed the living wage gaps of dozens of employers across the U.S. Providing each with valuable analysis of how their total remuneration, inclusive of benefits, compares to a living wage in each geography in which they operate. Thus far this work has spurred wage and benefits increases amounting to over $100,000,000 for workers in one year of operation. The resulting increases have had significant benefits to employers as well in terms of recruitment, retention, and productivity.
LW4US has implemented this analysis with a first in field, online total remuneration assessment tool. This allows precise identification of living wage gaps and suggestions for benefits that might provide extremely cost effective pathways for living wage gaps to be bridged.
The beta tool currently in use has received extremely positive feedback, but is only available on a cost per employer basis as it requires extensive engagement from LW4US staff. Additionally, the user interface requires manual data input that can seem daunting for large employers who haven’t yet experienced the tool and would feel more comfortable with options to upload whole sets of data. These challenges prevent LW4US from sharing the tool with the broad range of organizations that have presented new use cases.
We are redesigning the tool to advance the living wage movement. The tool shall:
1. Allow employers to assess how their total remuneration package compares to a living wage without price barriers to use;
2. automate many of the aspects of living wage certification to allow servicing of a large number of employers;
3. remove marginal cost of use for each new employer, thus allowing supply chain and funder use;
4. create a user-friendly experience with embedded guidance that allows less time investment by staff for living wage assessment and certification;
5. reduce the amount of time an employer must invest to complete a living wage assessment through excel uploads of data and potential integration with HR systems;
6. allow for quick adjustment to basic elements at low cost (new back-end data uploads, corrections to formulas for calculation, updates to text and layout, etc.);
7. Allow for easy visualization and tracking of data inclusive of changes over time and Impacts;
8. Provide a future proof tool that could be expanded globally.
A Visual of the Total System Integration Under Design:
We expect the redesign of this tool to create extensive benefit to employers, workers, communities, and our entire society. It is designed to remove the barriers and create the incentives to make living wage payment achievable for all and profitable for business.
The tool has built in tracking measures so that the business case can be supported by large quantities of aggregated data. Thus giving employers the confidence to understand how, with the right benefits, they can pay a living wage and why the investment will pay off long term.
1. Creates a pathway for employers worldwide to easily assess and measure progress toward living wages for themselves and all of their value chains that they would like to engage;
2. Enables scaling of LW4US certification and advocacy toward living wage to achieve a world where every family can afford a decent standard of living and every worker is fairly compensated without prejudice;
3. Cuts costs – both labor time involved in each assessment currently as well as costs of maintaining and marginal usage fees for system use, thus enabling licensing of the tool for hundreds of suppliers to a company without any marginal cost for each company, encouraging further uptake;
4. Provides greater maneuverability for future growth as it will be designed to easily adjust to future global living wage benchmark data, expanding beyond the U.S.;
5. Allows employers to assess how their total remuneration package compares to a living wage and understand how to close gaps with the most impactful and cost effective benefits;
6. Automates many of the aspects of living wage certification to allow servicing of a large number of employers with minimal time investment from employers;
7. Creates a user-friendly experience with embedded guidance that allows less time investment by staff for living wage assessment and certification;
8. Allows data sharing between companies for a range of reporting uses without violating legal regulations;
9. Significantly reduces the amount of time an employer must invest to complete a living wage assessment through excel uploads of data and integration with HR systems;
10. Allows for easy visualization and tracking of data inclusive of changes over time and Impacts.
Different user groups will have different ways of interacting with this tool. So we need your help in providing feedback on its design. We have formed a number of focus groups for some key users and invite you to register today! If you don’t see a group for you and want to provide input, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will schedule some time to talk.
New certification system launches today to help employers analyze total remuneration, inclusive of benefits, and close the gap to a decent living for their workers
Sleepy Hollow, NY (November 15, 2021) – Across the U.S. today over half of American workers don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families at a basic level of decency from a human rights lens. U.S. based, non-profit organization, Living Wage For US (For US) celebrates global living wage week by launching a new certification system enabling employers to understand the wages and benefits necessary in their locations to achieve decency for all their workers, and to transparently communicate to investors and consumers through an earned seal, when they are paying a living wage.
In partnership with the Economic Policy Institute, For US has calculated values for living wages county by county across the US that include essentials for a family of four like food, housing, healthcare, transportation, childcare, retirement savings, taxes, and a small margin to buffer for unexpected events. In the age of Covid, a worker’s ability to weather unexpected situations has become increasingly pertinent. And as employers struggle to fill jobs, companies are looking for the right formula to attract or retain a much-needed workforce. First of its kind, the For US living wage standard and certification system provides in-depth understanding of how to structure a total remuneration plan so that workers earn a living wage while employers maximize the benefits and affordability of this investment in their workers.
Michelle Murray, founder and CEO of For US makes clear why a third-party living wage certification is so pertinent to the moment. “The need for a transparent understanding and communication on living wage is more apparent now than ever before as 2020 research from Just Capital shows that across all demographics, political affiliations, incomes, genders, and generations, Americans find payment of a living wage the most important issue that business should address. If employers can show consumers and investors that they are heeding that call, we can have a solution that works for workers, for employers, for communities, and for us!”
Living Wage For US (referenced as For US)will receive $25k in funding, introductions to subject-matter experts, access to a peer support community, and mental health resources.
Sleepy Hollow, NY. September 15, 2021 — Uncharted announced today its cohort of ten early-stage social ventures for the Economic Inequality Initiative, a six-month accelerator supporting solutions addressing economic inequality in the U.S. Among them is For US, an early-stage non-profit national living wage certification system using the For US Standard. For US will receive $25k in unrestricted funding, access to a peer support community, and introductions to subject-matter experts like Ai-jen Poo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Edgar Villanueva, Founder and Principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project.
The economic divide in the U.S. is sharp and rising. In the decades since the great recession, middle-and-lower classes saw their collective wealth shrink by over 20%, disproportionately affecting women, people of color, and young people. “Economic inequality is the biggest problem of our generation,” said Banks Benitez, Uncharted’s CEO. “Generational problems require new and long-term ways of thinking, of building power, and of creating change. We’re honored to work alongside the entrepreneurs and activists leading the way.”
“We are so excited to be a part of the first Economic Inequality Initiative and see the support they provide as perfectly timed to help us gear up for our formal nationwide launch November 15th” said Michelle Murray, founder and CEO of Living Wage For US. “The connections and support within our peer group and beyond will really help us scale and drive the impact we want to see in the US, where ensuring a decent quality of living for workers provides benefit for workers, for employers, for communities and for US!”
For US was one of ten participants selected from a pool of 344 applications from early-stage ventures across the U.S. The ten selected ventures are closing wealth gaps in the U.S. through education, housing, small business assistance, financial literacy, and policy advocacy.
ABOUT For US and the Living Wage Standard
For US certifies U.S. employers that pay their workers and contractors a living wage based on real costs of living. More than that, we create a community to support employers in understanding how to pay living wages in a way that benefits workers, employers, and communities. We engage consumers and other interested stakeholders through social media, telling the positive stories of those whose lives are affected by higher wages and building the business case for living wage payment. We use research to navigate the impacts of policy changes on how workers can achieve a decent living, creating a space where solid research leads to strong action. We join in solidarity with all of you who believe that hard work should ensure a decent living, and celebrate the employers, investors, and organizations who are leading the way.
Formally launching during living wage week November 15, 2021, we are already working with employers across all industries in the US to make living wage payment understandable and achievable. Overcoming the barriers and creating the incentives to enable employers to pay living wages, affording a decent quality of life for working families.
Uncharted is a social impact accelerator that supports early-stage ventures tackling economic inequality in America. Our programs are fixed-term, cohort-based, and mentorship-driven. They are open to social ventures, nonprofits, movement builders, advocacy organizations, coalitions, and hybrid models.
Our results are exponential—for every $1 in funding we receive, our ventures generate $8.12 within two years, funding that they attribute directly to Uncharted’s support. For over 10 years, we’ve backed early-stage ventures with audacious goals. Equipping them to challenge the status quo is what we do best.
wages’ has become a topic that is regularly and widely discussed, with
increasing momentum behind initiatives across the globe. Stakeholders from
different backgrounds and ideologies are coming together around the shared
conviction that profit gained at the detriment of workers is simply
I recall the
first multi-stakeholder living-wage meeting that I attended in Amsterdam in 2013,
in the early part of this global movement. Sustainability leaders,
certification systems, companies and ministries from three European countries
were in attendance (U.S. policy makers
were noticeably absent!). The purpose of the meeting was to begin building a
common agenda to advance on living wages, with a focus on European procurement
policies and supply chains in developing and transitional countries. But nobody was really discussing the need
for living wages in “developed countries”. I remember asking a ministry
representative if they planned to roll-out a living wage strategy domestically
as well as internationally. The answer was no. Needless to say, this narrow
view of the supply chain struck me as inadequate and has helped fuel my own work
on living wages ever since.
globe, individual companies and entire sectors are making major commitments to
living wages, and some are putting real effort toward progress. Much of this
effort has focused on workers at the bottom of supply chains – those working to
produce raw materials or at manufacturing sites. Without a doubt, these supply
chain workers are grossly underpaid and deserve living wages. Freedom from
poverty is a human right, and many of the countries where these goods are
produced are among the poorest in the world. And chronic poverty is a significant
driver behind many other social problems – from food insecurity, physical and
mental health issues, and poor academic achievement to child labor and bonded
Over the last
six years, my work has taken me to leading banana, cocoa, coffee and tea
producing countries. When I talk about living wage, I am always dogged by a
feeling of hypocrisy. And this is not lost on my international counterparts.
Producer associations, growers, and unions alike have inquired whether living
wages are paid in my home country. And the fact remains that most of those
working on the front lines with American consumers – cashiers, grocery clerks, baristas,
servers, etc. are not earning a living wage. Not to mention the people that
care for us, our children and our elderly, keep are communities clean, and make
life generally better – those that make up the fabric of our society.
What are we signaling
to people of other nations when we push for living wages in their (often poorer)
countries while failing to pay living wages in our own? And what are we saying
to our neighbors when we focus on the wellbeing of people farther away while
seemingly blind to those in front of us?
It is time
for us all – employers, consumers and civil society – to look at living wage
from a truly global perspective, including its imperative across entire supply
chains, from production through consumption, and across every industry, whether
consumer goods or services. Workers everywhere should be able to feed
their families without sacrifice and afford a decent, if basic, standard of
living. For employers – private, public, and non-profit – this starts
by getting our own houses in order.
What we desperately need now is
not to abandon free market capitalism, but to correct its vision: to restore
its broader sense of responsibility to multiple stakeholders, to our society as
strong and well-intentioned advocacy and policy efforts, few places in the U.S.
today have minimum wages that approach a living wage. Yet, according to Just
(2018), Americans rank living wage and worker benefits as the top
considerations for U.S. companies. And while some employers have made
living wages a top priority, there is no easy way for consumers and investors to
identify which ones pay living wages, and how to support them.
Living Wage For US is building a nonpartisan, market-led certification system that will focus on the entire supply chain, starting with U.S. employers that pay living wages to their own workers and contractors. Starting at home, we want to ensure that American workers are fairly compensated without prejudice. From there, we help certified employers build practical, global living wage policies that extend across supply chains and across the world.
This is an issue that affects us all and threatens our economy and
Are you concerned about living wages? Do you know if you pay living wages to your employees? Need help creating and implementing a strategy to improve worker wages, starting with your own U.S. operations? Living Wage For US is here to help!www.livingwageforus.org
Earning a Living Wage Helps Me
“I feel like now I have equal opportunity. I’m paid fairly, which makes it possible to pay my bills as opposed to my former job where I was unable to do so. So, I have financial stability, which is key.”
- Johanna Cruz of Well-Paid Maids
Earning a Living Wage Helps Me
“I’m getting a good salary but it’s also about the time that I get so I can live a good life. And I can give some time to my family. Now I work 8 hours a day and then spend time with them on weekends.”
- Nishad Sayem
Paying a Living Wage Helps Me
“People are drawn to the fact that we have a living wage business model and benefits package. Based on the feedback I’ve received, our labor model is the reason why people are using our company.”