Take Action and Stand up for the Rights and Dignity of all Workers


August 29, 2013

Many of us look forward to Labor Day as we celebrate the emotional end of summer with one lastWhy should trade be fair?long weekend. While celebrating, we here at Westminster feel that Labor Day provides a unique opportunity for us to focus on the workplace with our emphasis on the here and the now.  We believe that the whole of our lives matters to God and that the kin-dom of God does not stop at the door to the workplace but extends to all aspects of life, including our work life. It is therefore, that amidst the celebration of the weekend we also lament and commit ourselves to improving jobs so that every worker has wages, benefits, and work hours that allow them to be self sufficient.

This coming Sunday we will focus oneconomic justice and fair treatment in the workplace; and that all people have dignity and deserve respect.   The reality is as stated in the United Church of Christ resources for Labor Day:

There are many people who have "jobs but their wages are very low. Or their employer may assign them too few hours. Or they may have been impoverished by paying medical bills. Or they may have borrowed money to pay for needed car repairs and then been drawn into a downward spiral of debt, extremely high interest payments, and poverty.

  • Unless a household is independently wealthy, one or more family members must work. But just having a job does not necessarily mean a family is economically self-sufficient.
  • Over¬†one in every four¬†jobs (28%) pays poverty-level wages, so low that even a full-time worker cannot support a family above poverty.
  • Over¬†8 in 10¬†low-wage workers do not have a single paid sick day. If they get sick and cannot work, or if they must stay home with a sick child, they are not paid. And if they are gone too long they may be laid off.
  • Every week,¬†over half¬†of all low-wage workers are cheated - by their unscrupulous employers - out of some of their wages.
  • Over¬†one-quarter¬†(27%) of low-wage workers do not have health insurance, either from their own job or through a family member and, whether insured or not, nearly two-thirds of low-wage workers say it is difficult to pay for needed health care.
  • Many low-wage workers have unpredictable work¬†schedules¬†that vary week to week and day to day. Their incomes vary also. Many are required to be continually on call, available to come in for additional hours, or risk being penalized with reduced hours or even layoff. Many are sent home during scheduled shifts if business is slow. Such scheduling makes workers' income uncertain and variable. It also makes a second job, schooling, or scheduled child care nearly impossible."¬†

As you read the above bullet points you might have recognized someone you know that is among the so-called "working poor". While there are many factors that contribute to this sad reality in the United States the Presbyterian Church joins other mainline denominations in campaigning for the following:

  1. Raise the minimum wage
  2. Strengthen the right to organize
  3. Change unfair International Trade Agreements  
On this Labor Day the Presbyterian Church (USA) needs your help as God calls us to take action and stand up for the rights and dignity of all workers by speaking out against unfair International Trade Agreements and specifically the "Trade Promotion Authority", known as fast track. As Presbyterians we believe that:

"Transparent debate must be part of any trade agreement.The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will impact the lives of ordinary people in big ways - from labor rights to food safety. Should it be implemented, the TPP will include at least 40 percent of the global  economy.  Yet, its contents remain largely secret.  While there is little public input, roughly 600 corporate advisors have access to negotiators.Congress must retain oversight of trade processes so that public discourse is strengthened. Fast track excludes the voice of the people". (PC (USA) Joining Hands, Presbyterian Mission Agency).   

Why should trade be fair? Duh.I invite you to take the time and explore the Joining Hands website where you will find many resources to educate you regarding The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast Tracking.  Even more, help the Presbyterian Church (USA) and send a letter to your members of Congress and President Obama asking them for more transperancy and to appose the implementation of the fast track mechanism in addressing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Take action now on behalf of all God's children.

Keywords: faith in action
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