Activity time: 20 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Visit the web site of Let Justice Roll, an economic justice partner of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, or contact the UUSC. Find updates about the "$10 in 2010" campaign to raise the federal minimum wage and identify actions the group can take to support a higher minimum wage.
Description of Activity
Tell the children that your congregation, through the UUA, is part of a national movement to improve dignity of work for people who work at low-paying jobs. The UUA, along with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), has joined the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition of more than ninety faith and community organizations that support raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2010.
Explain that "minimum wage" is the least amount per hour an employer is allowed to pay a worker. Mention enterprises most children will know that pay minimum wage, such as supermarkets, fast food restaurants and gas stations. Say:
Minimum wage laws are intended to make sure a full-time worker can support themselves and, if necessary, family members. But the minimum wages are in fact so low that many full-time workers cannot earn enough money to take good care of themselves and their families.
In June 2008, the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly passed an Action of Immediate Witness to Raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $10 in 2010. The action called on congregational leaders to educate themselves about poverty and a minimum standard of living, mark "Living Wage Days" with worship services (January 10-11, 2009), and sign a Faith Leaders Letter to Congress which stated:
An adequate minimum wage is a bedrock moral value for our nation ... For too long, the minimum wage has not provided even a minimally adequate standard of living ... A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it.
You may wish to share these stories from the UUSC web site :
Celeste Cook cares for disabled people in their Atlanta homes, preparing meals and medicines, giving baths, and wheeling clients into fresh air on sunny days. She loves her job. It's her passion to make sure that those she cares for live in comfort and dignity.
But Celeste cannot afford health insurance for herself or her family members because she is paid just $5.15 per hour, the state minimum wage. As a healthcare worker in Georgia, she is not covered by the federal minimum wage.
In downtown Cleveland , Rodney Campbell gets up at 5 o'clock every morning to clean office buildings for $6.55 per hour. He makes the floors shine and the bathrooms sparkle-and he takes pride in his work. But when Rodney goes home, he struggles to provide for his children, sometimes relying on food banks to put dinner on the table. He worries about his kids' future.
Celeste and Rodney are not alone. One out of every four U.S. workers-more than 28 million workers between the ages of 18 and 64-works in a job that pays minimum wage or less.
If you have chosen an action for the group to do, tell them what it is-for example, making posters or writing letters to congressional leaders or local government representatives. Distribute materials and explain what children will do. Or, lead a brainstorming session to elicit children's ideas for taking action at a later date.