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Home > Blog > Fair Pay for Fair Work
Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, May 03, 2006 8:53 AM
Fair Pay for Fair Work
Kevin Salwen on Making a Difference

How much is it worth to you to assure that the people who make your clothes, fix up your yard or grow your coffee beans are being treated decently?  If you're like most Americans, not much. 

Lately, I have been stunned as friends boast about finding that $3 shirt at Wal-Mart but never pause to ask how the company can get it made so cheaply to make a profit at that level. A few days ago, a friend was telling me about her nail salon in New York, where she gets a 45-minute manicure treatment. Total cost: $8. How does the manicurist make a New York-livable wage from that when she must share that $8 with the shop? When I ask friends about whether it bothers them that workers might not be able to afford health care coverage or decent housing on that pay, most people just shrug; "Why should I pay more?" On its face, not an unreasonable question.

How do you know if the process is fair? How can you tell smart sourcing from sleazy exploitation? I guess I start with the smell test: If it smells like too much of bargain, it probably is. Not exactly scientific, I concede, but I haven't had time to research more specific ways of determining equitable pay levels.  Any suggestions or resources out there?




1 comment

Janet Auty-Carlisle - 5/3/2006 11:39:23 AM
Kevin, first off....I would say the same thing...if it smells like too much of a bargain..there is a price being paid somewhere else. As in all things, it takes some work to source this stuff out. Go on-line. Check your local business associations. Ask at environmental fairs, organic shops, local college and university campuses...great source of alternative places to buy things. Check out the background of the company. Somewhere there has to be info...dig deeper if you need to. The notion of "why should I pay more?" is short-sighted, in my opinion....If not now, then later....Pay more now from your pocket book or pay more later from the environment, labour revolts and economic backlash from other countries. Think big people, shop local, shop smart, ask questions.....Living la vida fearless, Jan

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