Interfaith Worker Justice

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IWJ in the News

New #WEmatter Twitter Campaign Amplifies Women's Economic Security Woes

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Organizations and individuals across the country are taking to social media on Tuesday as part of a new campaign to promote policies designed to strengthen the economic security of women and families.

The launch of the social media movement coincides with Women's Equality Day, which marks the anniversary of women winning the right to vote on August 26, 1920.

View the full story from Progress Illinois

5 Ways to Honor the Sacredness of Work on Labor Day

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Earlier this summer, Pope Francis released his “Top 10 Secrets to Happiness.” Along with “live and let live” and “be giving of yourself to others” was a reminder for young people of the sacredness of work. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people, he said.

We need to be creative with young people … It’s not enough to give them food. Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home [from your own labor].

The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops beautifully describes the connection between work and human dignity, stating: “Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected — the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.”

How can we protect and uplift the dignity of work, especially when many young people are looking for work or still deciding what to do, and others who may have jobs do not always think of their work as sacred?

View the full story from Busted Halo.

Metro Brief: Federal contract workers strike

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Last week, hundreds of low-wage federal contract workers from landmark federal buildings in our nation’s capital walked off their jobs saying President Obama’s recent $10.10 Executive Order is not enough to afford the American Dream...

“The bounty our nation produces is abundant. There is enough for all, but it is not being shared with low-wage workers,” said the Rev. Michael Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches and the national policy director of Interfaith Worker Justice.

View the full story from District Chronicles

LinkedIn Stiffed Its Own Employees, Agrees to Pay Millions

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LinkedIn (LNKD), the social network to which professionals turn to find better jobs, has agreed to pay nearly $6 million in back-pay and damages for short-changing its own employees. The payout for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act includes about $3.3 million in unpaid wages and $2.5 million in liquidated damages, affecting 359 current or former workers in New York, Nebraska, Illinois, and LinkedIn’s home state of California...

The employer-side law firm Seyfarth Shaw released (PDF) an analysis of Federal Judicial Center data earlier this year showing a 438 percent increase in the filing of Fair Labor Standards Act cases since 2000. Jurisdictions including New York State, Chicago, Houston, and Florida’s Miami-Dade County have passed legislation strengthening enforcement measures against “wage theft.”

Still, the Department of Labor has faced questions by pro-labor activists about whether it is up to doing its part of the job. “Everybody’s so happy that the Wage and Hour enforcement division went from 750 to 1,000” federal employees, Kim Bobo, the author of Wage Theft in America, said last year. “But that’s just pitiful.” A 2012 report (PDF) from the Progressive States Network found that the ratio of labor enforcement agents to U.S. workers workers had fallen from one for every 11,000 workers in 1941 to one for every 141,000.

View the full story from Bloomberg Businessweek

Kim Bobo to step down as director of Interfaith Worker Justice

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For almost two decades, Kim Bobo has been at the forefront as a leader and innovator, striving to ensure the rights of workers. She has given her fellow United Church of Christ members an avenue to put their faith into action by advocating on matters of fair wages, paid sick days and wage theft.

But after 18 years of building and growing the organization, Bobo, the founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, has decided to transition out of the leadership role in the next six to eight months.

View the full story from the United Church of Christ

Protest Raises Questions About Contract Workers of Legislative Branch

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Labor issues came to Capitol Hill Tuesday, as federal contractors protested wages at Union Station and members of Congress used the opportunity to discuss workers’ rights among contractors and employees in the legislative branch.

About 100 federal contractors who work minimum wage jobs at Union Station, Ronald Reagan National Airport, the National Zoo and the Pentagon marched through Columbus Circle on Tuesday morning waving picket signs and flags.

“These courageous workers have gone on strike nine times,” said Rev. Michael Livingston, national policy director and head of the Washington, D.C., office for Interfaith Worker Justice. The people waving white and blue flags behind his lectern were predominantly women, many dressed like Rosie the Riveter in red bandanas and starched blue shirts and holding the hands of toddlers who marched alongside their working moms.

“Workers need more than a minimum wage executive order,” Livingston yelled into a bullhorn. “Workers need a ‘good jobs’ executive order,” he said, referring to a proposal being pushed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus that would expand workers’ legal protections, identify and track violations and favor employers that offer living wages, full benefits and collective bargaining.

View the full story from Roll Call

‘Labor in the Pulpit’
Interfaith Worker Justice offers resources

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Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) emphasizes that Labor Day weekend provides a unique opportunity for faith communities, workers, worker advocates and the labor movement to rediscover their common bonds. These common bonds are social justice, equality, the Common Good, dignity and respect of all persons, economic justice, and fair treatment in the workplace, according to IWJ.

View the full story from the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of the United Methodist Church

Impact of Supreme Court's ruling on unions could be felt nationwide

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Advocates for women's rights weren't the only ones dealt a blow Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court; so, too, was an Illinois health care union seeking dues from the nonmembers they represent. Lost in the Hobby Lobby hyperbole: The nation's highest court in a 5-4 ruling reversed a decision upheld by a federal appeals court that allowed the union to require "fair share" fees from public in-home care workers who had not joined its ranks but whom it represented in collective bargaining.

The eight petitioners who brought the Harris v. Quinn case -- personal assistants from Illinois who provided home care services to Medicaid recipients -- argued their First Amendment rights were violated by a state law requiring union fees from those uninterested in joining.

"They're important sectors in the society, they're growing sectors. And they're sectors that are largely filled by low-wage women and people of color," Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, told NCR. Though she said she didn't believe the court overtly sought to discriminate against those groups, Bobo viewed its decision as continuing previous labor law practices that exempted minority groups from the fullest protections.

View the full story from the National Catholic Reporter

Faith leaders urge support of federal minimum wage legislation

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WASHINGTON -- A group of religious leaders stressed the moral obligation to raise the federal minimum wage in an April 29 letter to Congress, describing increased wages as "indispensable to ensuring that no worker will suffer the indignity of poverty." The letter was released the day before the Senate was to vote on increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

"We respect the dignity of our neighbors who toil under the yoke of today's unjust minimum wage, and we call on our elected leaders to ease their burden by making the minimum wage a family wage," said the letter, organized by public policy groups Interfaith Worker Justice and Faith in Public Life and signed by about 5,000 people including more than 30 prominent religious leaders known for their work on social issues.

View the full story from the Catholic Sentinel.