October "Living Wage Days" events mobilize new ?value voters?, build momentum for five state ballot measures
New York City, September 27, 2006--As Congress continues to stall on raising the minimum wage, the national Let Justice Roll Campaign will hold hundreds of rallies, workshops, religious services, and prayer breakfasts in October to build support for raising the minimum wage.
Let Justice Roll, a fast-growing nonpartisan partnership of more than 80 faith and community groups, is working to pass minimum wage ballot measures in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana and Ohio.
Let Justice Roll played a leading role in recent state minimum wage increases in Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. LJR helped win victories in California and Massachusetts, and will be leading campaigns for minimum wage increases next year in states such as New Hampshire and Tennessee.
A recent poll showed nine out of ten Americans support a higher minimum wage, but Congress has not raised it in nine years. The minimum wage has lost more than a fifth of its value since the last increase in 1997 to $5.15 an hour, and has less buying power than the minimum wage of 1950.
"The Christian Coalition scorecard shows how members of Congress vote on so-called social issues, but not on help for the poor, which the Bible mandates hundreds of times. But millions of ?values voters? care about fair wages for the people who do some of the hardest, most important jobs in our society -- from childcare teachers we entrust with our children to healthcare aides we entrust with our parents," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, a leading member of Let Justice Roll.
"It's a moral abomination they are paid a wage that traps them in poverty," said Edgar, author of the new book, "Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right" (Simon & Schuster).
"Let Justice Roll members know that talking about values is no substitute for valuing hardworking men and women all across this nation who need a higher minimum wage," said Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, Let Justice Roll Campaign National Coordinator. "The message of Living Wage Days is clear: A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it," said Sherry, co-author of "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future."
Many Let Justice Roll "Living Wage Days" events will take place on the weekends of October 7-8 and October 14-15. States holding events include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. A sample of "Living Wage Days" events can be found below.
Contrary to minimum wage opponents? assertions, states that have raised their minimum wage above the federal level have had better employment trends, including among retail and small businesses, than states that have not.
At the federal level, the Let Justice Roll Campaign is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to at least $7.25 an hour and oppose measures that would weaken existing minimum wage eligibility, overtime protections or other labor laws, or link minimum wage to tax cuts for the wealthy.
?The contrasts are staggering,? said Johanna Chao Rittenburg, Let Justice Roll steering committee member, program manager for economic justice at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. ?Forbes magazine announces that the 400 richest Americans are now all billionaires just after the Census Bureau announced that median full-time pay is down though productivity is up. Congressional leaders are holding the minimum wage hostage to a tax cut for wealthy heirs. Let Justice Roll believes that the moral issue of our time is that everyone who works for a living earns a living wage,? said Rittenburg, who is also co-editor of, "Resources for Living Wage Worship Services and Community Events."
For interviews with Bob Edgar, Paul Sherry, Johanna Chao Rittenburg or other Let Justice Roll representatives, please contact Dan Webster at 212-870-2252 or Betsy Leondar-Wright, 781-704-4039. Rev. Sherry can also be reached directly by cell, 917-226-5301. Direct contact information for states with minimum wage on the ballot follows the state sample of events.
OHIO: Services and events will be held across Ohio, including Akron, Athens, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. Columbus, Oct. 5, the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, longtime senior minister at Riverside Church, New York City, will give the keynote at ?We Believe Ohio: Get out the vote rally for Justice,? Congregation Tifereth Israel.
MONTANA: Missoula, Sept. 28, "Many Faiths, One Voice: Missoulians for Wage Justice, with wisdom from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Native American spiritual traditions, University Congregational Church. Missoula, Oct. 7, "Many Faiths, One Voice: Rally for the Raise." Helena, Oct. 21, the statewide Progressive Clergy Alliance holds a conference on the minimum wage at the state and federal level.
COLORADO: Lone Tree, Oct 7, Johanna Chao Rittenburg, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Program Manager for Economic Justice, leads a workshop: "Could you survive on $5.15/hr -- Faith activists for a just minimum wage." Denver, Oct. 14, an African-American Ministers Issues Forum spotlighting minimum wage Amendment 42 at Macedonia Baptist Church.
ARIZONA: Living Wage Days kicked off on Labor Day Weekend with more than 50 congregations hosting Labor in the Pulpit, a signature event of Let Justice Roll member organization, Interfaith Worker Justice. In October, Living Wage Days will feature numerous events, including the multi-congregation Oct. 15 "Stand Up Against Poverty," sponsored by Let Justice Roll member organization, WHEAT (World Hunger Education, Advocacy & Training Organization).
Living Wage Days Resources available at www.letjusticeroll.org include:
-- "Resources for Living Wage Worship Services and Community Events," a comprehensive Let Justice Roll resource guide (available in pdf format.)
-- "A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future," co-authored by Holly Sklar and the Rev. Paul Sherry, and produced by the American Friends Service Committee and the National Council of Churches USA. "A Just Minimum Wage" is available in pdf format at www.letjusticeroll.org. For hard copies, contact Dan Webster at 212-870-2252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACTS FOR STATES WITH MINIMUM WAGE ON THE BALLOT:
Rev. Trina Zelle, Lead Organizer, Let Justice Roll Arizona/Interfaith Worker Justice 2510 S. Rural Road Suite 102, Tempe, AZ 85282 Phone: 480-522-4707, Email: email@example.com
Greg Rasheed, Colorado Let Justice Roll Coordinator Colorado Progressive Coalition, 1600 Downing St., Suite 210, Denver, CO 80218 Phone: 303-866-0908, Cell: 720-436-3417, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Missouri: Rev. W. Audrey Hollis, Let Justice Roll Organizer/St. Louis Area Jobs with Justice 2725 Clifton Ave St., Louis, MO 63137 Phone: 314-644-0466, x 12, Cell: 314-435-0414, Email: email@example.com
Montana: Kat Wright, Field Organizer, Raise Montana/Let Justice Roll P.O. Box 1902, Helena, MT 59624 Phone: 406-495-8683, Cell: 406-461-3366, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio: Katy Heins, Lead Organizer, Let Justice Roll Ohio 215 E. 14th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202 Cell: 513-314-0074, Email: email@example.com
Additional state contacts are available at http://www.letjusticeroll.org/stateminimumwagecampaigns-contacts.html.