The Living Wage Network: A coalition of living wage certifiers

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La Plata County Thrive! Living Wage Coalition is helping to launch a new nationwide network of living wage certifiers. The network is composed of living wage certification programs that recognize employers who pay a living wage, significantly impacting the lives of tens of thousands of low-wage workers across the country. Currently, seven of the network’s members actively certify employers in locations nationwide. A list of active programs and their locations can be found online at

Thrive! Living Wage Employers tell us why they think it is important to pay a living wage. Jessie Kileen of Grassburger, a fast-casual, family-owned restaurant in Durango. Colo. says “Our team is vital to our success. We feel it’s important to pay a living wage for employee morale, loyalty, and job security”. Erin Youngblood at Evenings Porch Assisted Living in Bayfield, Colo. states “We have a low turnover of staff, which ensures our residents receive the best consistent care”. Diana Hammond at Basin Printing & Imaging tells us a living wage is “important for retaining skilled employees and it helps to keep our community healthy and vibrant”. At Manna Soup Kitchen, Kathleen Tonnessen explains “We see firsthand what those less fortunate struggle with. It is for this reason we believe everyone deserves a living wage–so they can become self-sufficient”. Or, in the words of Charles Shaw, owner of the Smiley Building, “Everyone does better when everyone does better”.

With new partnerships formed through the Living Wage Network, we see an opportunity to expand our reach and impact workers across the nation. The need certainly exists. In no state does a low-wage worker not struggle to provide for their family. In no state in America can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom apartment. Nowhere is the minimum wage yet a living wage.

The network is composed of organizations and programs that encourage and certify employers who pay a living wage. Each certification program has developed its own criteria for determining what constitutes a living wage, accounting for the cost of living in each unique community. Separately, our work has significantly impacted the lives of tens of thousands of low-wage workers across the country. Together, we will build on this success.

The Living Wage Network’s mission is to support worker livelihoods by urging employers to pay living wages by promoting living wages as a matter of conscience within our community. To date, over 2,500 small and medium size businesses across the country have certified their willingness to pay a living wage to their employees. 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.

About the Living Wage Network

We exist to promote a just economy where workers are paid fairly, employers are successful, and our community thrives as a result.

About La Plata County Thrive!

Launched in November 2014, Thrive’s voluntary program is open to employers in La Plata County and currently includes 103 employers, with over 3300 employees! Wages have been increased for some employees in order to qualify for this program, resulting in about $65,000 in additional wages. This program rewards employers who pay, or aspire to pay, a living wage and promotes a just and sustainable economy. More information is available at

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