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NC Churches advocate for raising wages, union rights

Jeremy Sprinkle
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We have a challenge, especially in the South, of getting folks to use the word "union", which is why we started our Labor Sabbath effort last year to get people of faith to use the words "labor union" the weekend before Labor Day. After all, unions and collective bargaining are the tried-and-true ways American workers raise wages, boost benefits, and work with dignity and respect on the job.

We love this new post written by Sandy Irving, Volunteer Program Associate for the NC Council of Churches, and we think you will too.

According to Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), “four million fast food workers across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many workers are standing up for $15 per hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.” Other low-wage workers, such as home health care workers, are now joining this struggle.

After enduring bad weather in recent weeks – snow, ice, treacherous driving conditions, schools out at a moment’s notice, and lengthy power outages for many – I have been thinking about low wage workers. They  get no paid leave – no sick leave, no paid vacation to use for missing work because of bad road conditions or to care for children out of school. Workers come to mind who have trouble making ends meet in good times with full work schedules who recently have had reduced hours and even less pay to fill in the gaps.

How do we walk hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters who are leading this struggle to raise wages to $15 per hour and to guarantee the right to organize so that millions of working families might be lifted out of poverty, contributing to prosperity for all workers in our country? How many of us “good church folk” appreciate the fast food workers who come to work early in the morning to prepare coffee for our stop on the way to our job? Do we appreciate the home health care workers who take care of our elderly and sick? How do we follow the directions of Jesus to “Do unto others as we’d have them do to us”?

IWJ reports that “in the U.S., CEO pay is 400 times the average worker’s wages. That gap is growing. And it is worse in those places where the organized voice of workers has been silenced.”

For more than 100 years, labor unions have stood with workers and given workers a voice. We have the eight-hour workday, social security, anti-child labor laws and the minimum wage, thanks to labor unions. The National Council of Churches has, in the Social Creed for the 21st Century called on people of faith “as disciples of the One who came ‘that all may have life and have it abundantly’ ” to stand for family-sustaining living wages and the rights of workers to organize.

Can you join with workers on Wednesday, April 15 as they meet to continue their struggle?

Stand in Solidarity with Low-Wage Workers
Wednesday, April 15, 5 p.m.
Shaw University Quad
118 E South Street, Raleigh

Read more and share your comments about this article on the NC Council of Churches website.