JPANet Weekly Action July 12, 2007

Now is the time to begin planning for Labor Sunday, September 2, 2007.
The worship service on Labor Day weekend is an excellent time to lift up the workers among us, especially those who lack basic economic necessities, experience demeaning or unsafe work conditions, or suffer harassment or discrimination on the job.

Meet a typical low-wage worker in Cleveland: Sarah cleans office buildings in the evenings for $54 a night (before taxes); she gets no health insurance, no pension, no sick leave, no paid vacation, and no paid holidays. She buys her own cleaning supplies. Sometimes her paycheck bounces or her employer is late in giving her the check. If she is injured on the job, she deals with it.

Sarah’s situation is not uncommon.

  • One quarter of all jobs pay wages so low that a full-time worker is unable to lift a family of four above poverty.
  • Five out of six low-wage workers have no paid sick days.
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of all workers do not receive health insurance from an employer and two-thirds of low-wage workers do not.
  • In addition, low-wage workers too often encounter demeaning and inhumane treatment on the job. Some must ask and receive permission to use the bathroom. Some are constantly in danger of injury whether working in a slaughterhouse, a mine, or a hotel room. Others face discrimination, harassment, or verbal and psychological abuse.

Many Americans fail to see the low-wage workers in our midst because they may be immigrants or native-born people of color. As Christians, we ask for eyes that can truly see these workers and their reality, for ears to hear their stories and their cry for justice, and for warm hearts to respond to their pain.

On Labor Sunday (or any other Sunday), there are many ways to lift up these highly-valued people of God.

Interfaith Worker Justice, a partner with UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, has many online resources http://www.iwj.org/outreach/labor_day.html to assist you in planning a Labor Sunday service including worship resources and assistance in identifying a worker or labor leader to speak.

A fact sheet http://www.ucc.org/assets/pdfs/jlww.pdf about low-wage workers is available on the UCC web page, and buttons proclaiming Jesus’ solidarity with them “Jesus was a Low-Wage Worker” are available from JWM goodflet@ucc.org in English or Spanish.

Categories: Column Justice & Peace Action Network Monthly Newsletter

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