Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day of Action to Raise the Minimum Wage set for July 24

The 99 percent need a raise, and on July 24, groups and activits will join together and call for a raise in the federal minimum wage. July 24 also marks the date when the minimum wage was last raised three years ago.

While millions struggle to live on $7.25 and hour, CEO pay has increased by 725 percent during the last 30 years. Low-wage workers aren’t benefitting from tax cuts to the rich that are supposed to trickle down. It’s time to demand an increase to minimum wage.

OUR TARGETS: We will take dramatic action to call on key targets to support raising the minimum wage. The targets include:
  • Low-wage employers owned by Bain Capital, such as Dunkin Donuts, Toys-R-Us and Outback Steakhouse.
  • Big national low-wage employers like Walmart, Target and McDonalds and regional low-wage employers where workers are already organizing.
  • Members of Congress and presidential candidates
ACTION IDEAS: We believe actions against low-wage employers and politicians who don’t support raising the minimum wage will get news coverage—and the more real and less gimmicky the better. Here are some other things to consider:
  • Our best messengers will be low-wage workers who make less than $10 an hour and community members who are sick of tax cuts for the rich that are supposed to trickle down and believe the best way to improve the economy is from the bottom up.
  • Try to have low-wage workers confront politicians or management directly with their personal stories, and force them to explain why they don’t support raising the minimum wage.
  • Consider the best way to “occupy” a low-wage workplace for a while.
  • A champion could “walk a day” in the shoes of a minimum wage worker, or try to shop in a supermarket with the small food budget of a low-wage worker.
This is a national campaign that has just been announced recently. Please send me your ideas/plans at Thank you.

Source: Interfaith Worker Justice

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Federal Legislation You Should Know About

The following updates are provided by Faith Advocates for Jobs, a program of Interfaith Worker Justice

Transportation Bill Will Save Millions of Jobs

Before leaving Washington for the July 4th recess, Congress sent the President a major piece of legislation. The surface transportation bill will save or create millions by authorizing $120 billion in spending for federal highway, rail and transit programs for the next 27 months.

The bill does not raise the existing 18.4 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax or the 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax, but it does allot about $19 billion in transfers from the Treasury.

The highway bill also included a student loan provision that extends the current 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford loans for one year. The bill will be paid for by changes in pension laws and a restriction on the length of time students can get those loans.

Bring Jobs Home Act

The offshoring of jobs has spread from manufacturing to services and other sectors of our economy, devastating working families and their communities. When the Senate returns from the recess, they will consider the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2884). This bill stops tax incentives for companies outsourcing jobs and provide tax credits to those that return jobs to the United States. Call you Senator at 888-659-9401. Tell them to pass the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2884).

Unemployment Insurance

According to a new report from National Employment Law Project (NELP), American workers who lose their jobs after July 4 will only have access to jobless aid provided by their states—26 weeks in most cases. They will not be eligible for any federal unemployment support if they run out of state benefits before finding new work.

With all federal unemployment insurance programs scheduled to expire by year’s end, more than 900,000 Americans will exhaust their state benefits during the first three months of 2013 and will be left without any jobless aid. More than two million Americans already receiving federal extended unemployment insurance will face immediate cut-off from the program between Christmas and the new year.

Long-term unemployment remains at near-record levels, fueling concerns that the federal programs are being terminated prematurely. The average unemployed worker is jobless for around 40 weeks—far longer than the 26 weeks of jobless aid offered by most states. Nearly half of all workers who receive state unemployment insurance (47.9 percent) run out of benefits without finding employment.

It takes on average nine months for unemployed workers to find a job. Unless Congress reauthorizes the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, unemployed workers will face an average of three months of joblessness without any benefits.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jubilee at Walmart Video


Today a contingent of Interfaith Worker Justice Kansas gathered outside a Walmart store in Wichita to mark the 50th anniversary of Walmart by calling for a biblical Year of Jubilee. In the Bible the 50th year is a Year of Jubilee--a time for debt forgiveness and the redistribution of wealth.

The camera was handheld, as you will see, but it steadies after the first minute or so. In order of appearance the speakers were: Rev. David Hansen, IWJKansas; Dr. Michael Austin, Provost of Newman University; Rev. Tim Lytle, Unity Wichita; Rev. Sam Muyskens, Global Faith in Action; Rev. Charles Claycomb, University United Methodist Church. Also in attendance were: Ms. Sally Hansen, Ms. Jane Byrnes; Dr. Carolyn Bridges. Following this prayer vigil participants signed an Open Letter to Walmart Executives, which was then delivered to the store management.
My deepest thanks to all who participated, to all who held us in prayer, and to Interfaith Worker Justice for organizing this campaign in support of the 1.4 million Walmart workers in the United States.

As the Open Letter states it is time, and it is past time, for Walmart owners and shareholders "to redistribute corporate wealth to workers by providing a living wage, benefits and a safe workplace."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jubilee at Walmart!

This Saturday, July 7, 2012, Interfaith Worker Justice invites friends and neighbors to join us for a 12:00 noon prayer vigil at the Walmart store on West Kellogg. This is part of a national IWJ campaign.

Professor Walter Brueggemann of Columbia Theological Seminary has written the following statement supporting Jubilee at Walmart.

  The Jubilee Year is authorized by Moses in Leviticus 25. It is celebrated in lyrical fashion in Isaiah 61 as "the year of the Lord's favor (Isaiah 61:2). It is claimed by Jesus as the shape of his life and destiny of his ministry:

       Today this scripture [Isaiah 61:1-2] has
        been fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21).

   The biblical provision for the jubilee year proposes a pause in the rough and tumble of real-life-economics. It knows that through predatory action in the economy, some gain at the expense of others and some lose because of their vulnerability, and huge social inequities result. In order to curb such unsustainable economic arrangements, the jubilee year provides a regularized occasion when economic property and livelihood is given back by those who have gained to those who have lost. Giving back is a restorative action to maintain a viable neighborly infrastructure. The "give back" is an act of social realism that witnesses against predatory economics that "takes away."

   Given that the Jubilee in biblical provision occurs every fifty years, the 50th anniversary of Walmart is a splendid occasion for a Jubliee Year among us. Thus it is here proposed that on its 50th anniversary, Walmart pauses in its rough and tumble of economics to give back for the sake of the neighborhood. Such give back may take many forms: give back to the neighborhoods that the stores tend to diminish. Give back to the workers who stay locked into poverty by poor wages, give back hope to those locked into despairing economics. It would be an act of neighborly generosity that would bring health and well-being to the neighborhood to the benefit of all parties.

   Nay-sayers like to ask with a skeptical tone of the biblical jubilee, "There is no evidence that they ever really practiced it, is there?" We do not know. What we do know is that it is there in the text, in the life of Jesus, and in the vision that faith has for society. Jubilee waits to be enacted now. There is no better agent for such an action than Walmart. Walmart is a master at marketing. It could also be a master at neighborliness. This is the time!

   The term "jubliee" comes from the Hebrew term ybl, "ram's horn." The Jubilee Year begins when the ram's horn is blown. We can listen for it in Walmart stores all across the nation. When it sounds, the neighborhood will dance and sing!