National Faith-Community Alliance Launches Campaign to End Poverty Wages

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Jul 22 2008
Let Justice Roll Urges Faith Leaders to Endorse Call for $10 in 2010

Washington, DC,  - On Thursday, July 24, the federal minimum wage will increase from $5.85 to $6.55 an hour, providing a much-needed but inadequate boost to workers and our economy. The $6.55 minimum wage will still leave workers with less buying power than they had in 1997 at the start of the longest period in history without a raise. Even after the minimum wage rises to $7.25 in July 2009, it will be far below the minimum wage of 1968, which is worth $9.86 now. The Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 90 faith, community, labor and business organizations, has launched the "$10 in 2010" campaign to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2010.

"We must break the cycle of too little, too late raises," said Rev. Paul Sherry, chair of Let Justice Roll. "Men and women working full time should not have to choose between paying the rent and paying for healthcare, putting gas in their car or oil in their furnace. A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it."

The $10 in 2010 campaign is beginning with a call to faith leaders across the nation to endorse a letter that will be delivered to the new Congress in January in a groundswell of support for a minimum wage that lifts people out of poverty. In combination with the faith letter, Let Justice Roll is organizing "Living Wage Days" services and community events across the nation January 10 and 11.

"All of the faith traditions represented in our broad coalition agree that employers need to pay fair wages," said Rev. Ron Stief, Vice Chair of Let Justice Roll. "Since 2005, we have played a leading role in raising the minimum wage in 17 states and breaking the long-term stalemate in raising the federal minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage to $10 in 2010 is the crucial next step."

Let Justice Roll is calling for $10 in 2010 because
  • The minimum wage is a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage.
  • $10 in 2010 is necessary if we are to make up the ground lost in real wages since 1968.
  • $10 in 2010 will bring us closer to the goal of the "minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers" articulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the minimum wage 70 years ago.
  • $10 in 2010 will bring us closer to the day when all workers are paid a living wage.
  • $10 in 2010 will strengthen the foundation under our families, communities and economy.

"The minimum wage sets the wage floor, and we cannot build a strong economy on downwardly mobile wages and rising debt and insecurity," said Holly Sklar, senior policy adviser for Let Justice Roll and co-author of A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future. "Minimum wage workers don't put their raises into predatory lending, commodity speculation or offshore tax havens. They recycle their needed raises back into local business and the economy."

Most of the ten occupations projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to have the largest employment growth during 2006-2016, such as retail salespersons, fast food workers, home health aides and janitors, have disproportionate numbers of minimum wage workers. "Paying workers enough to live on cannot be optional," said Holly Sklar.

"Policy Points" on $10 in 2010 can be found at www.letjusticeroll.org along with charts, publications and other resources.

Let Justice Roll will collect signatures on the Faith Letter from all congressional districts between now and January. Faith leaders who would like to read and sign the letter to Congress should go to www.letjusticeroll.org or call Rev. Paul Sherry at 501-626-9220.

In addition to our federal work, Let Justice Roll is currently organizing to raise state and local minimum wages in Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. For more information, please visit www.letjusticeroll.org.

Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign
The Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign is the leading faith, community, labor, business coalition committed to raising the minimum wage to a living wage at the state and federal level.

To find out more about the $10 in 2010 campaign, state campaigns and resources such as our Living Wage Resource Guide and A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future, please visit www.letjusticeroll.org.