This has been a good week for workers. With the signing of the Executive Order requiring companies that do business with the federal government to pay their workers a minimum of $10.10 an hour, the President has set an moral standard that congress and the larger business community would do well to meet. For faith leaders this is holy ground, we celebrate every victory that recognizes the dignity of work and the humanity and rights of workers. Secretary Perez your invitation for this conversation on the minimum wage is a welcome demonstration of your commitment to good jobs, fair compensation, the value of work and workers in God’s economy.
So, a word about the work of Interfaith Worker Justice on the Minimum Wage. Federally, we’re active in the National Employment Law Project's convened coalition to get congress to pass the Fair Minimum Wage Bill. We’re active partners with the more than 100 coalition members participating in strategy and the Hill work to strengthen support in Congress. Co-sponsors in the House are up to 185 and 33 in the Senate. In key states around the country, we’re leading in work to organize the faith community for support of state and local measures, both legislative and where ballot initiatives are underway.
We’re working Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Southern California. In Alaska and South Dakota, where there are ballot initiatives and little involvement of the faith community, we’re working with secular partners that are eager to expand support for passage of measures that polls show have strong community support. On March 6, in recognition of the International Day of Women, a national event will headline state and local events with leadership from women of faith in the states I’ve mentioned.
But there is more to do!
As I close, thank you for greeting workers in the White House before the signing of the Executive Order Wednesday. It was an exciting moment for them. I say this because it’s ironic that the workers who risked the most by repeatedly striking to make that day happen are least likely to benefit from it—since the order applies to new contracts and not existing contracts. There is so much more that needs to be done to protect workers, and to enforce the order.
I also have to take this opportunity to encourage the Department of Labor to resurrect work on a Worker’s Right to Know regulation to require employers to give employees a clear paystub so they know what they’re being paid for, hours they’ve worked, and what deductions are taken from their pay. Thank you Secretary Perez.
Today IWJ's National Policy Director, the Rev. Michael Livingston, sat with Labor Secretary Tom Perez. They were joined by national faith leaders including Sr. Simone Campbell, NETWORK; the Rev. David Beckman, Bread for the World; Mr. Jim Winkler, general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches; Naim Baig, President of Islamic Circle of North America, Rabbi Michael Namath, Religious Action Center of a Reformed Judaism, former Congresswoman the Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, who founded the Skinner Leadership Institute; and the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, of the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington DC.