Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day: Honoring the Sacred Nature of Work

I would like to observe Labor Day by sharing a truly interfaith effort on the part of  Interfaith Worker Justice to commemorate our nation's workers and their labor. IWJ offers opportunities for people of a broad range of faith traditions to observe not only Labor Day itself but the entire weekend.

Recognizing that we are a truly pluralistic society, there are options for folks from Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist congregations, communties or groups to commemorate the workers and the sacred nature of work.  ( By the way, IWJ director Kim Bobo led the Bread for the World organizing department for several years in the 1980s).

As a Roman Catholic, I am also proud to share a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about Labor Day.  Here is an excerpt followed by the link to the full statement, which was signed by Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair of the USCCB Committee on Human Development.

Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, "Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. . . . It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's own nation." Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse, and exploitation.

Even with new indicators of some modest progress in recovery, the economy still has not improved the standard of living for many people, especially for the poor and the working poor, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. More than four million people have been jobless for over six months, and that does not include the millions more who have simply lost hope. For every available job, there are often five unemployed and underemployed people actively vying for it. This jobs gap pushes wages down. Half of the jobs in this country pay less than $27,000 per year. More than 46 million people live in poverty, including 16 million children. 

The economy is not creating an adequate number of jobs that allow workers to provide for themselves and their families. Jobs, wages, and poverty are interrelated. The only way to reduce the widening gap between the affluent and the poorest people in our nation is by creating quality jobs that provide a just compensation that enables workers to live in the dignity appropriate for themselves and their families.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of Stockton 
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development 
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops September 2, 2013

Read Full Statement

No comments: