This week, the Catholic Bishops of Maryland released a statement supporting increasing Maryland's minimum wage and called on elected officials in the state to support legislation that upholds just employment policies such as access to paid sick leave to care for oneself or one's family when ill.
The Maryland Catholic Conference, which represents all three dioceses with territory in the state—the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, strongly urged state lawmakers to take justice for Maryland workers into their own hands. Workers in the state cannot wait for legislation at the federal level:
Here in Maryland, measures to support working families through just compensation and a healthy work environment will be prevalent issues during the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly. Legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage and to allow workers to earn paid sick leave for time worked deserve the serious consideration of our legislature. We urge our lawmakers to support final measures that will treat Maryland's workers fairly while sustaining local businesses and the jobs they provide…
As the state's largest private social service provider, we witness in our Catholic ministries the painful reality of those who struggle to keep up with the basic costs of food, rent, utilities and transportation. This desperate cycle cannot end unless we as a society find a way to give all capable men and women the chance to work at a job through which they can live with true independence and dignity. While we hope one day the issue of raising the minimum wage will be addressed at the federal level, we cannot afford to wait in Maryland.
The Bishops in Maryland are the latest Catholic leaders to join the call for legislative action making our economy better reflect the same set values people of faith believe. Earlier this month, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops released a joint statement with the Catholic Charities USA supporting an increase to the federal minimum wage: "We urge you to consider closely any legislation that begins to heal our broken economy by promoting decent work and ensuring fair and just compensation for all workers," the statement said.
As people of faith, we're believe in a just economy, an economy that includes jobs that pay workers a fair wage and provides the time and space to heal and be well. At Interfaith Worker Justice, we applaud the Maryland Catholic Conference for their leadership on worker rights in the state, and we continue to pressure elected officials all across the country to do the right thing for workers.