The title of this blog is “Asheville Action,” and my goal here is to shine light on the actions of groups or individuals who are making a positive difference in our community, especially as related to equity and inclusion. Just Economics is all about action – and results. We are very fortunate to have them in WNC. I attended their recent year-end celebration and I learned more about this rockin’ organization.
Just Economics is primarily known for their Living Wage Employer Certification Program which is the largest of it’s kind in the nation. Groups from all over the country turn to Just Economics as a model for this work. That’s so impressive! Promoting Living Wages is a straightforward way to battle economic inequality. While we can get bogged down in the complex causes of social problems, setting the standard of a Living Wage is one clear strategy to address them. We don’t talk enough about how companies that do not pay a living wage are actually the ones being subsidized by the welfare system. If a person can work full-time but still not make enough to cover basics like housing, food, transportation and child care, that is plain wrong. Why does our culture stigmatize people who receive government subsidies, instead of directing outrage at the corporations that are benefiting from paying low wages? Makes me mad. So I’m glad the fine folks of Just Economics are not sitting around and complaining, but instead are actually tackling the problem.
Just Economics also is involved in policy advocacy, such as their successful campaigns to get Buncombe County and the City of Asheville to pass living wage policies for their employees.
Also impressive is Just Economics’ third program area, Community Education and Leadership Development. As their website states, “Just Economics aims to have a membership that reflects the diversity of our community, with an intentional focus on leadership from low-wage workers and others most affected by the issues we work on. Voices for Economic Justice is an 8-week workshop series that incorporates popular economics education and community organizing skill-building, with the aim to build leadership among low-wage workers and low-income persons.” A recent group from the Voices class organized around issues with public transportation in Asheville, and led a successful advocacy campaign to bring back Sunday bus service. Concrete results, there! Just Economics also educates “people of faith, policy-makers, business owners, and the general community about issues facing the working poor in our region, and proactive solutions to building a just and sustainable economy.”
So, that’s the good news about Just Economics. Find out more at justeconomicswnc.org.
photo from the just economics celebration, of the visual aid to a presentation on intersectionality