top of page

AFL - CIO Candidate Questionnaire

Sage Turner

PO Box 262 Asheville NC 28802

Q1: What do you believe are the most important issues facing Asheville in the coming years?

a. Affordability - rising costs of living , access to affordable housing, and the lack of wages keeping pace.

b. Reduced climate resiliency externalities, including increased population in Asheville as persons flee the coast and heat zones, increased costs associated with utility and needed infrastructure investments, loss of tree canopy, and impacts to overall health.

c. Strategic and responsible planning as we grow, ensuring we are fiscally responsible with our limited land and taking care of all of our residents.

Q2: Do I support the concept of living wage of at least $15 for city and employees, including contractors?

Yes. And I suspect if Asheville could access its own FMR - fair market rent figure - independent of being blended with Buncombe County rent data, we would see Just Economics (JE) certifying at a higher living wage already. We need to move the city employees and contract workers to $15 as soon as possible.

The current JE living wage rate is $13.65 without insurance and $12.15 with insurance (as of 1.03.2020 and subject to increase by end of Jan 2020). An individual working 40 hours at $13.65 grosses $28,392 a year or $2,366 a month, leaving only $709 (30% of gross income) for housing, including applicable utilities, taxes, and insurance.

Q2 part 2: If yes, would you be willing to test the limits of efforts by the state to preempt such action at a local level?

Possibly. There may be better ways to go about it, i.e. incentives, stronger RFPs, and a simple willingness to prioritize it in the budget.

Q2 part 3: Does your city provide a living wage to city employees?

Yes, at the amount that Just Economics certifies.

Q3. Do you support tying tax incentives to relocating companies to a requirement that they pay a living wage and adhere to job safety standards?

I do.

Q4. Given the growth of the city, how would you improve public transportation and access to affordable housing?

We need to continue our work to fully implement the Transit Master Plan, including working with the county on fare free and on funding increasing needs that arise as a result of fare free. This could include $.25 sales tax set aside specifically for transit. We need to be strategic with other sources, including demand based parking in downtown to increase the annual revenues, which contribute to transit. We need to put tourism tax dollars to work to fund a circulator shuttle that reduces parking costs for downtown workers (33% use meters).

As the chair of the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, I know affordable housing is a multifaceted problem in need of a multifaceted approach

Q5. Do you support the right of public employees to engage in collective bargaining?

My understanding is the state disallows municipalities from having unions. That our own transit workers are outsourced, allowing them to organize and bargain. Testing the state on legislative matters is complicated and tied to many other issues and possible initiatives, most with a high risk for unintended consequences. Perhaps there are more solutions like the transit outsourcing.

Q6. Do you support dues check - off (payroll deduction) for public employees who join unions?

Yes. I manage payroll for the Co+op and personally deduct dues, create reports, and remit dues to the Teamsters on behalf of the bargaining unit. The process should be simple for organized workers, i.e. not creating a new bill for them to manage.

Q7. Do you believe that all workers should be free to choose a union or association of their choice without fear of retribution?


Q8. Do you have any unionized employers in your community? If so, which industries are these?

My employer: French Broad Co+op, which is a community owned grocery store in downtown that is 45 years old and unionized by the Teamsters. I work closely with the union on all matters, particularly the contracts, creating wage budgets, collecting and remitting dues, and creating reports for the union. We worked together in 2014 to reorganize the wage structure and benefits and become the first certified living wage grocery store in the nation.

Teamsters - originally for freighting and warehousing - serves both private and public sectors.

SWIS - Service Workers in Solidarity was started in 2018; not sure of current status

ATU - Amalgamated Transit Union - transit outsourced workers I mentioned above

IBEW - International Board of Electrical Workers

UBC - United Brotherhood of Carpenters

UFCW - United Food and Commercial Workers may be working on a presence in Asheville. Earth Fare workers tried to unionize with them but efforts did not prevail. Yet.

Q9. What is your view of the role of union members in your city?

Unions utilize collective bargaining power in working for better wages, benefits, and workplace safety.

Q10. If you have the opportunity to name or recommend an individual to a board or commission, would you consider naming a labor union member?


Q11. Briefly describe your strategy to win, including campaign structure, fundraising, and communications.

I and my committee will be working hard to listen to as many community members as we can. We’ll be communicating to as many people in as many places as feasible. I have an experienced successful campaign manager, and we are using strategic methods to target most likely voters via mail, phone calls, canvassing, social media, and communicating with voters at the polls.

16 views0 comments


bottom of page