The Political Economy of the Living Wage: A Study of Four
Cities. By Oren M. Levin-Waldman. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004.
$69.95 cloth, $24.95 paper.
Fighting for a Living Wage. By Stephanie Luce. Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 2004. 288p. $45.00 cloth, $18.95 paper.
While the idea of a living wage is traceable back to concerns about
the status of wage earners in a republican political order voiced during
the Jacksonian era, the modern history of the movement began in Baltimore
in 1994. A coalition of unions, liberal religious groups, and
organizations that work with and for the poor persuaded the city council
to adopt a policy requiring all firms with city contracts to pay their
employees a living wage. From there, the movement has spread to other
parts of the country, resulting in about 130 similar ordinances at last
count. These two books are the latest in a growing literature covering
various facets of this phenomenon.