Congregations Witness for a Living Wage as Part of "Let Justice Roll" Martin Luther King Day Celebration
A number of Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations across the United States held events designed to call attention to the need for a living and just wage for all workers as part of 2006 Martin Luther King Day celebrations.
Rogue Valley UU Fellowship, Ashland, Oregon
Sunday, January 15, 2006, was our annual the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, with a focus on his dream of the Poor People's Campaign, poverty in the U.S. and world, and lack of a 'living wage' creating the working poor. With great concern for lack of coordinated programs for the homeless throughout the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon, we are forming a committee to begin work on this related issue.
There are groups working on the issue of living wages in all the towns in the valley (Oregon has a higher minimum wage than the U.S., but it's not a living wage in Ashland...), and on affordable housing. We will no doubt eventually be connecting with these groups.
—Rev. Patt Herdklotz, minister
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, West Virginia
On January 15, the congregation focused on the second source of our UU living tradition ("words and deeds of prophetic men and women") and on what the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is calling “Let Justice Roll” Sunday. Guest speaker Mayor Richie Robb of South Charleston will share his experience of walking in another's shoes (living on the same budget as someone on food stamps) and the values that inform his life.
Washington UU Voices for Justice Advocacy Network
The Washington UU Voices for Justice Advocacy Network gathered on Martin Luther King Day in Olympia for the Poverty Summit which was organized by a coalition of advocacy groups including UU Voices for Justice. UUs who attended the rally were involved in workshops with those most affected by poverty and inaccessible health care.
Rally participants were encourage to act in favor of the Washington state Health Care Responsibility Act (Fair Share for Health Care—House Bill 1702, Senate Bill 5637)—which would require that companies with more than five thousand employees pay at least nine percent of payroll costs toward health care. The rally also advocated for health care for adults, noting that over half a million people in Washington don't have health care, and health care for children. The rally also supported the Housing Trust Fund, noting that passage of WA House Bill 2418 would allocate new revenue from real estate taxes to be used for a one-time investment in the state's Housing Fund to enable more people to obtain affordable housing.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, California
The Rev. William Sinkford, UUA President, received a standing ovation while preaching at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego on January 15, 2006. On Martin Luther King Sunday, Rev. Sinkford emphasized an often-ignored aspect of Dr. King's ministry—economic justice. Rev. Sinkford reminded us that Dr. King advocated for a living wage for all workers and was fighting for economic justice for sanitation workers in Memphis when he was killed. Today, an important fight for economic justice, said Rev. Sinkford, is the push to raise the minimum wage. Rev. Sinkford urged the congregation to support minimum wage legislation in California which would be tied to inflation.
The San Diego congregation has been active in the fight for economic justice by partnering with the San Diego Organizing Project, a community based organizing group, in successfully urging the City Council to adopt a living wage ordinance.
—Rev. Arvid Straube, Senior Minister
UU Congregation of Blacksburg, Virginia
The UU Congregation of Blacksburg, VA, conducted its Sunday Service on Jan. 15th using materials from the "Let Justice Roll" campaign and the UUSC's March "Justice Sunday" materials. Our guest speaker was a member of our Town Council (a UU) who has been working for a number of years (before being elected to the Council) toward encouraging businesses in our area to provide a living wage (or anything that is incrementally headed in that direction). He has a long list of community supporters for the idea. The strategy is to promote a positive, supportive and loyal patronage of businesses that pay a living wage to their employees. (Our Valley Interfaith Day Care Center for children of low income families pays the living wage). Our Chapter of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy has supported his work.