Becoming a Livable Wage Employer

From Rita York Hennecke, General Manager

Since 1974 your co-op has been on the leading edge of social change. Now, 43 years later, we continue along that path with progressive leadership. This fall, we are making a bold leap by committing to be a livable wage employer. 

We want all co-op employees to earn enough money to be able to make healthy lifestyle choices and to actively participate in the co-op. Our vision to be excellent grocers requires us to be an outstanding employer as well.

82% of hourly staff will see an increase this fall. Supervisors and managers will only see an increase in the spring if we are meeting budget. In making this transformative move, we expect to:

  • Retain more of our great staff
  • Attract more qualified and experienced candidates for open positions, and
  • Create a stronger more positive and team-oriented co-op culture overall.

How do we define livable wage? Although there is no official definition and no agreed-upon methodology for arriving at it, a livable (or living) wage is understood to be one that allows workers to fully pay for their basic needs. As defined by the National Co+op Grocers Livable Wage and Benefits Model, a livable wage in Lawrence is currently $12.35/hour for 40 hours/week. 

It is important that we make a sustainable commitment—not just a one time adjustment—to livable wages. We will not raise prices to make this happen. In fact, we are actively lowering prices on many items to remain competitive. Instead, we will increase productivity through operational efficiencies. 

In many ways choosing your grocer may seem like a small act—buying a loaf of bread, apples or milk. But the fact is when you shop at the co-op, you support livable wages, fair benefits and a co-op full of PEOPLE, just like you, that come to work every day and try to make a positive impact in this world. 

Questions & Answers Since Publishing This Post

What percentage of Merc employees are not managers or supervisors and also work 40 hours a week?

Today 41% (55% with supervisors included). When implementation is complete in January 2018 it will be 63% (77% with supervisors included).