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Across The Country, Faith Groups Rally To Support Living Wage Legislation
Think Progress
Marie Diamond

November 21, 2011
View the Original Article

Across the country, groups pushing for living wage legislation are finding powerful allies in religious leaders and faith groups that are flocking to join the fight. Case in point, a rally in New York City urging the City Council to raise wages at city-subsidized projects got a big boost today from the support of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York:

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, is scheduled to speak at a rally on Monday organized by a coalition of religious, labor and community leaders to urge the passage of the bill, originally introduced last year by two City Council members from the Bronx.[...]

[H]e added that the rally on Monday, at Riverside Church, would provide an appropriate setting for the archdiocese to address economic hardship and unemployment, matters of utmost concern to the church.[...]

“We’re going to speak about how this economic crisis continues to hurt everybody in society, particularly the poor,” the monsignor said. “We need to make sure there are decent jobs with decent wages.”

The City Council will hold a hearing tomorrow on the bill, which would would mandate a wage of $10 per hour with benefits, or $11.50 without benefits, for employees of projects that receive at least $1 million in government subsidies. Small businesses and manufacturers are exempt, but the bill has still faced strong opposition from business leaders and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the New York archdiocese has recently been pushing the church to focus more on the economic hardship millions are facing and the importance of living wages. He wrote in a letter to all bishops in the U.S. that “the best way out of poverty is to work at a living wage.” According to a 2009 report, more than one million workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City lose more than $56.4 million each week as a result of employment and labor law violations.

The Florida Independent reports that faith groups are planning a series of actions to protest wage theft. This week also marks the first anniversary of the Day Against Wage Theft in Miami-Dade County. Florida Republicans are pushing a bill that would bar municipalities from “adopting or maintaining” local ordinances like Miami-Dade’s that crack down on wage theft.