photo from Poor People's Campaign
by Julian Medrano
Across the country, people of faith and goodwill kicked off week five of the Poor People’s Campaign to draw attention to systemic poverty, jobs, income & housing. We join them in asserting: Everybody’s got the right to live!
This week’s focus on living wages, good jobs, and the fight to protect the inherent rights and dignity of working families gets to the very heart of IWJ’s mission.
We believe that the work of every individual contributes to the creation of community, the richness and diversity of culture, and provides a chance for connection and fellowship with one another. There is dignity and value in all work, but our economy has left the majority of working people behind.
Over the last three decades, wages for all but a small minority of people have largely been stagnant. The modern reality for workers in low-wage industries is that even when working full-time their annual income ($15,080) will still be $10,000 below the 2018 federal poverty threshold for a family of four. Worse, when the numbers are adjusted for inflation, a minimum wage worker would have to work an additional 41 days to have the same purchasing power as they did in 2009.
Bottom line: our current economic system is propping up capital and business at the expense of labor. Building wealth on the backs of working families is antithetical to our morals as people of faith.
Putting our faith values into practice means paying all workers a living wage – a wage that would allow every worker to adequately feed, house, and provide transportation and healthcare for themselves and their families.
As people of faith and goodwill, we have a responsibility to make sure our neighbors have the means necessary to live with dignity and respect.
Thanks to overwhelming public pressure, many states, counties, and cities have taken up the call to raise the minimum wage. However, 25 states have laws that prevent counties and cities from taking action.
What we need now is for Congress to act and ensure that working people receive enough pay so they and their families can live vibrant lives and build their communities.
We call on you to urge Congress to pass the Raise the Wage Act of 2018. This bill would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024 and would lift the wages of 41 million workers in the United States.
No measure on its own can raise someone out of poverty but passing this bill will drastically improve the lives of millions. Sign on and show your support!
IWJ is proud to be a part of the Poor People’s Campaign. We urge you to join us by participating in local actions this week and beyond. Please click here to find actions in your area.