June 12, 2019; Associated Press

Here at NPQ, we look forward to the day when there are no more stories about nonprofits resisting minimum and living wage ordinances. In this article from the Associated Press, reporter Randall Chase briefly cites nonprofits serving elderly and disabled people as among the institutional resistors to raising the minimum wage in Delaware to $15/hour over the next five years.

Nonprofit organizations serving the elderly and disabled said the wage increase would have a devastating effect on their ability to serve those populations and would require a corresponding increase in reimbursement rates from the state.

NPQ has repeatedly spoken of this field as one in which nonprofits abuse their own pool of employees—largely comprising people of color and predominantly female—through under-compensation and shortening of hours. This creates any number of problems, creating an understaffed, unstable workforce that’s unable to fully honor the critical work they do. Additionally, many in this industry must avail themselves of public subsidies to get by—an abominable and humiliating requirement for this hardworking workforce.

On top of that, arguing against reasonable compensation sullies the credibility of nonprofits in general through the crass hypocrisy it reveals. A $15/hour wage works out to just over $30,000 annually. Currently, the minimum wage in Delaware is $8.75/hour.

With the understanding that nonprofits that survive on government contracts must actively advocate for higher rate increases to cover rising wages, the idea of not leading with that demand, rather than calling for the increases to slow, as is the message reflected in this op-ed from a nonprofit infrastructure organization, is wrongheaded to say the least. This is a moment for a strong advocacy agenda and a moment to act—but in this case, the wrong path has been chosen.—Ruth McCambridge