Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nelson Stands with Hundreds of Striking Workers

(stay tuned to this blog for more information about and photos of the demonstration)

Action Alert:

This morning, the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, joined hundreds of striking workers – mostly janitors and food services workers – from the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, Senate, Smithsonian Institution and other federal landmarks, as they walked off their jobs in protest of poverty pay.

Click here to write to the President and walk with low-wage workers too.

J. Herbert Nelson Marches with Good Jobs Nation Workers
in July 2014
The Reverend J. Herbert Nelson, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Director for Public Witness, and several other faith leaders joined with workers to call on President Obama to lead by example and champion the growing “Fight for 15” movement by signing Model Employer Executive Order that gives a preference to federal contractors who pay living wages of at least $15 an hour, provide decent benefits like paid leave, and allow them to collectively bargain so they need not go on strike to be heard.  

Today, the federal contracting process awards contracts to the lowest bidder, making the government the largest low-wage job creator in the country, funding over 2 million poverty jobs through contracts, loans, and grants to private businesses. Taxpayer dollars should create good jobs that pay workers livable wages, provide benefits, paid sick leave, and dignity in the workplace. We know from past movements that Executive Orders related to federal contract hiring can lead the marketplace, creating a tide that lifts all workers and builds a stronger economy.

This morning was the twelfth strike in two years by low-wage contract workers who are organizing under the banner of Good Jobs Nation. This is the second time in a year that Reverend Nelson has walked with these workers.  In response to previous strikes and Congressional gridlock, President Obama declared he would “lead by example” by signing executive orders to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 and end wage theft on federal contracts. In the wake of the President’s orders last year, the CEOs of private companies like The Gap, IKEA, McDonalds and Wal-Mart announced that they too would hike starting pay and several cities passed ordinances to end wage theft. 

However, just like the thousands of fast food worker who are calling for better pay, benefits, and working conditions, federal contract workers say they need “More than the Minimum” to survive. Even after President Obama’s executive orders, the U.S. Government continues to be America’s largest low-wage job creator. We can do so much better.

Reverend Nelson was joined in his solidarity with low-wage workers by several other religious leaders who wrote a letter to President Obama calling for his moral leadership in response to the suffering created by poverty wages –

We therefore call on you to issue a “Model Employer Executive Order” that provides a contracting preference for companies that pay living wages of at least $15 an hour, offer good benefits and paid-time off for sickness and care-giving, provide full-time hours and predictable work schedules, as well as promote the rights of workers to bargain collectively so they do not need to strike to have their voices heard.  

For the complete letter and list of signatures, please visit the Office of Public Witness blog.