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Board Puts Seal of Approval on County's Epithet as Peoples' Republic

At their June 28, 2003 meeting, the Arlington County Board joined such Left Coast cities as Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Cruz in adopting a so-called living wage (a moralistic term describing an above-market minimum wage that results in pay increases for no additional work). According to the Employment Policies Institute, "living wage" campaigns are organized efforts to force employers to pay wage rates on some definition of "employee need" rather than on "work performed." EPI adds that labor unions hope that by increasing the private sector's labor costs, the living wage can reduce the privatization of public sector jobs. In adopting the FY2004 budget, the Board appropriated the tax revenues for paying living wages to certain of its employees and employees of selected non-profits. Saturday's action extends the policy to certain county contractors although Virginia's Attorney General has opined that "(A) locality does not have the authority to require contractors to provide a "living wage" to their employees as a condition for the award of a public contract." Arlington residents who wonder how carefully the County Board manages their tax dollars may find that the actions taken in the name of the "living wage" provide an unambiguous answer."

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