Statement made at the BEA press conference November 1, 2007

James Haslam, Director, Vermont Workers’ Center

The Vermont Workers’ Center is a statewide workers’ rights organization committed to fighting for workers’ rights. DO do this we work with folks across the state organizing in their workplaces and communities. What the Burlington Para-educators and the Burlington Education Association has been able to accomplish with this victory is extraordinary. This a livable wage victory translates directly into raising the standards in a profession that is sorely undervalued. Para-educators play a critical role in public education in this community and their contributions should be rewarded.  
For the past year, we have helped coordinate the Burlington Livable City Coalition, a group of is community organizations and unions that works to make Burlington truly livable for all its residents. The City of Burlington has been nationally recognized for being one of the most “Livable Cities In the Country”, yet there are still thousands of families living in poverty and thousands of workers still being paid poverty wages. You cannot have a livable city without livable wages. We know our city will be a better city when all the jobs pay real livable wages, when the children of this city are not forced to grow up in poverty, and when people can live with basic dignity. The reason they call the labor movement a movement, is because one victory can inspire other victories. And we hope the food service and other Burlington School staff will be announcing their livable wage victory very soon. These victories will inspire other victories just like them.  
The idea of livable wages is the basic principle of respect and what is just. If the job is worth doing than the person doing that job deserves to be able to make a living doing it. The only people I have ever known who do not believe that people should be paid livable wages are those who make far more than a livable wage. We look forward to more and more people getting involved, fighting for livable wages, and for working to make a truly livable community for all of our residents. Thank you and congratulations.