Raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $10 in 2010 2008 Action of Immediate Witness

Because: Unitarian Universalists as a community of faith uphold the inherent worth, rights and dignity of all people;

Whereas: We have supported a fair minimum wage since 1961, passing a resolution supporting an agricultural minimum wage for migrant workers, and since then our sustained commitment has yielded more than three dozen economic justice resolutions, including a 1997 General Resolution calling for Unitarian Universalist congregations and individuals “to work specifically in favor of mechanisms such as a true single minimum wage, applicable to all workers, that provides an adequate standard of living";

Whereas: The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee are members of the national interfaith Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, hundreds of Unitarian Universalist ministers and faith leaders sent a Letter to Congress in January 2007 urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage (enacted July 24, 2007) and Unitarian Universalist congregations have supported legislation and ballot initiatives in several states to raise state minimum wages since 2005;

Whereas: The current minimum wage is a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage, the 2007 minimum wage increase was from $5.15 to $5.85 and the minimum wage is still worth less than in 1997, when it was $6.95 in 2008 dollars;

Whereas: By the time the minimum wage reaches $7.25 in 2009, it will not be worth much more than it was in 1997 and could be worth less if inflation rises more rapidly than the Congressional Budget Office forecasts;

Whereas: The federal minimum wage sets the wage floor for all wages;

Whereas: More than 800 business owners, executives and venture capitalists from every state have signed a statement asserting, “Higher wages benefit business by increasing consumer purchasing power, reducing costly employee turnover, raising productivity, and improving product quality, customer satisfaction and company reputation";

Whereas: A minimum wage of at least $10 in 2010 is necessary to provide workers with a minimum standard of living;

Whereas: The pay gap between minimum wage workers and CEOs grew nearly fifteen times wider between 1980 and 2006;

Whereas: A minimum wage of $10 in 2010 would restore the minimum wage to about half the projected average worker wage; in 1968 the minimum wage was 53 percent of the average worker wage and in 2006 the minimum wage had eroded to 31 percent of the average worker wage; and

Whereas: Low-wage workers whose labor is often exploited and invisible support others’ unearned privilege;

Therefore, be it resolved: The 2008 General Assembly supports the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign urging the 111th Congress in 2009 to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 by 2010. We urge all Unitarian Universalist congregations and individuals to participate by

  • educating themselves about poverty and requirements for a minimum standard of living;
  • holding Let Justice Roll rallies, workshops and worship services on the weekend of January 9-11, 2009;
  • signing the $10 by 2010 Faith Leaders Letter to Congress;
  • participating in other Let Justice Roll activities; and
  • advocating with low wage workers.