“We tend to treat changes in the economy as if they were like the weather—natural phenomena governed by forces beyond our control. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have chosen to live in a society with high unemployment and with income distribution that is becoming medieval. A tiny percentage of Americans owns most of the wealth. Meanwhile millions of willing and able people are without work. This did not just happen. We created this situation.” —Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Rev. Peter Morales
After a thoughtful process, the Common Read selection committee has chosen Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman as the 2013-14 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Common Read. The book reveals how restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America and how poor working conditions—discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens—affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables. The author explores the political, economic, and moral implications of eating out. Learn more. Behind the Kitchen Door is available from the UUA Bookstore. The discussion guide (PDF, 20 pages) is now available.
A Joint Statement from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) President Rev. Bill Schulz. Add your name to join our advocacy for low-wage workers and their families.
Millions of low-wage workers in our country work full-time and still can’t afford life’s basic necessities. How can we expect hardworking people to support themselves and their families on $7.25 an hour? That’s just $15,080 a year for a full-time worker—$3,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. And income inequality is at an all-time high: the CEOs of the 500 largest U.S. companies make an average salary of $10.5 million.
The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would make the following vital advances:
Three and a half million people of color would be lifted out of poverty if Congress raised the minimum wage to $10.10, according to a new report from the restaurant workers’ group ROC United. They would be the majority of the six million people overall who would be lifted out of poverty. People of color are far more likely to work minimum wage jobs, as they represent 42 percent of those earners even though they make up just 32 percent of the workforce. (From 'How Raising the Minimum Wage is a Racial Justice Issue' by Bryce Covert, Jun 21, 2013).
We stand in solidarity with people throughout the country struggling to survive on minimum wage. We call upon all people of faith to join us. And we come together to urge this: stop making workers pay the price for corporate greed — raise the minimum wage! Join the UUA, the UUSC, Interfaith Worker Justice, and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United in this important campaign.
See Joint Statement from UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and UUSC President Rev. Bill Schulz Raising the Minimum Wage—A Moral Imperative. Add your name to join our advocacy for low-wage workers and their families.
Kara Smith, UUSC, and Susan Leslie, UUA, held a webinar in October attended by 50 people. Watch the two-part webinar recording to gain information on the movement to raise the minimum wage and UU grounding for this justice campaign, learn how to build solidarity with low wage workers, and find out how to get involved.
The Unitarian Universalist Association is part of the interfaith Faithful Budget Campaign based on a covenant that “All our faith traditions place people who are impoverished and marginalized at the forefront of concern. The current fiscal debates—at their heart—are a struggle for the soul of our nation and its moral conscience. We grieve at the soaring gap between rich and poor; faith and fairness require that we preserve and strengthen vital lifelines for people who are struggling to overcome hardship and poverty in the U.S. and abroad. The faithful way forward to fiscal health calls for a focus on job creation, revenue increases, a shared commitment to the common good, and cuts in unnecessary military spending."
Learn more about the UU frame for the 2014 Faithful Budget.
Interfaith Worker Justice, a coalition partner of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), is organizing with the faith community to address the most damaging social crisis of our lifetimes: the crisis of unemployment. While there are some signs of a return to profitability for certain sectors of business, workers continue to face unemployment and underemployment at levels not seen since the Great Depression.
Faith Advocates for Jobs is a major new interfaith campaign initiated by Interfaith Worker Justice to address the severe suffering being endured by millions of unemployed workers. The campaign is organizing a nationwide network of congregations committed to supporting the unemployed and their families both spiritually and materially.
Will yours be one of those congregations? Learn more and sign up for a congregational toolkit, worship resources, timely information and more.
Read about First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR, participation in the campaign.
As people of faith who believe in the inherent worth of every person, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) strive for justice, equity and compassion in our relationships, and work for systemic change in our advocacy. Unitarian Universalists, following the prophetic leadership of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., recognize that racial and economic justice are inextricably linked. Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Most people remember the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom as the occasion where King gave his famous 'I Have a Dream' address. A key demand of the march was for a national minimum wage act that would give all Americans a decent standard of living. Certainly, Dr. King did not dream that the value of the minimum wage would be lower today than it was in 1963.
Today African-Americans and Latinos are suffering disastrously high unemployment rates in this current economic crisis. See Economic Policy Institute (EPI) October 2011 reports.
Many UU congregations are successfully pursuing their economic justice ministries through engagement in:
See Working for a Just Economic Community, 1997 General Resolution as well as other UUA statements on economic justice.
For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
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