Month: February 2015

Golden Rule at Work by the Golden Gate

Here’s a restaurant owner who is treating workers like she would like to be treated and she’s successful too!  Zazie in San Francisco was featured on an NBC news segment, “Good Work”.




The New Educated Poor

On Wednesday, Adjunct Professors along with supportive students and sympathetic educators participated in the National Adjunct Walkout.  Why?  Adjuncts now make up over 75% of the faculty at all levels of post high school education.  A US House of Representatives report, issued in January 2015, noted that most adjuncts live below the poverty line!  Read more in this Atlantic article.

The Pressure is On

Now that Walmart has decided raise hourly wages above minimum wage, other retail outlets are already feeling the pressure to do the same.  On Wednesday, the parent company of TJ Maxx announced that it will also increase wages to $9 per hour for its employees.

However, Target just announced that they will NOT follow Walmart in increasing hourly wages across the board.

Let’s keep up the pressure!  Pray for the low wage workers who are crying out for living wages.  Keep the Fast in solidarity with them.

Workers in the News: Strikes at Oil Refineries

Steelworker strikes at oil refineries that began in California now expanded to two BP refineries in the midwest at  Whiting, IN, and Toledo, OH.  This is the first national strike of steelworkers since 1980.  Read the report on the strike from Crain’s Chicago Business.  To get the perspective of the Union, read an interview with workers at In These Times.

Note the reference to using “contractors” to do more work at the refineries.  “Independent contractors” are often temporary employees hired through agencies.  Though usually qualified to do the work, companies are not required to provide benefits or pay union wages to “contractors”.   One of the concerns about use of “contractors” is the compromise of safety.  Just this week, an oil refinery in Torrence, CA, exploded, killing 4 people.  Though the cause of the explosion is unknown, it raises questions and concerns about refinery safety and the use of “contractors.”

Does our Lenten Compact have something to say about this?

Support Higher Wages for Fast Food Workers at the Drive Through Window

Here’s an easy action to encourage Fast Food Workers who are seeking an increase in wages.  This action is supported by leaders of the Fight for $15.

1.  Go through the local fast food drive through.

2.  When asked what you would like to order, respond: “I’m not ordering anything today but I want you to know I’m fasting from fast food during Lent to support the Fight for $15 so (Fast Food Name) employees can have a living wage.  Have a great day.”

3.  When you get to the payment window, sincerely thank the person for their work..

Made In L.A. – Sweat Shops in the US?

We often picture workers in China or the Dominican Republic when we hear “sweat shops”–places where people are paid little for making our clothes.  But it happens frequently in the US.  Here’s a short clip from the documentary, “Made in LA”, that tells the stories of low pay and wage theft by companies making clothes for Forever 21, an upscale young women’s clothing store.

Walmart Increases Wages

Yesterday, Walmart announced that it is raising the wages of 500,000 minimum wage workers.  Soon, employees will see an increase to $9.00 per hour and a year from now, pay will increase to $10 per hour.  While this will be an improvement for many, it is far below the $15 an hour workers were seeking from the company–the largest employer in America.  In addition, the increase will not significantly impact the 46% of Walmart’s workforce who work part time.

Do you think Walmart’s decision is a good sign for low-wage workers?

COLD? Here’s something that will get your blood boiling

It’s 7 below zero in Chicago this morning with a wind chill of -27 degrees.  While that might not be cold if you live in Minnesota, it is cold enough to shut down schools here.  So, what do you do on a cold, cold, day?  Here’s a suggestion:  Watch a movie!

Here’s one:  “The Dark Side of Chocolate”, a short documentary about child slavery on West African cocoa plantations.  Hershey’s Chocolate announced today that they are going to use “simpler” ingredients in their chocolate products.  Nestlé announced something similar on Ash Wednesday.  Unfortunately, they still use cocoa that is not certified fair trade.  That means every chocolate kiss contains the “ingredient” of child slavery.  I say, Kiss ’em goodbye!

Choose the Cross, Not the Arches

Starting today–Ash Wednesday–we’re “Not Lovin’ It”.  We’re embarking on our Fast Food Fast for Worker Justice as a way to show solidarity with all low-wage workers throughout the global economy.  We’re giving up Big Macs and Big Gulps and Blizzards and Lattes.   But we’re not just giving up Fast Food; we’re giving up an economic system that chews up people and spits them out all in the quest for greater and greater profit–the idol of the marketplace.

Every day during Lent, a devotional will be posted to help you engage the issue of worker justice.  You can share comments, interact with others who are on the Fast Food Fast.  Together, we will learn what God has to say about work and wages and a different economy.  And we will move toward God’s vision of ‘shalom’ and justice.  Link HERE for today’s devotional.

It’s Shrove Tuesday! Meet Nancy Salgado

Lent begins tomorrow, which makes this SHROVE TUESDAY!  Or if you prefer, Mardi Gras or Fasnacht.

So, while you’re eating your pancakes, paczkis, and fatty meat and peas, take a moment to meet Nancy Salgado, a Logan Square fast food worker who was featured in The Reader’s ‘This Week’s Chicagoan’ column.  Read her story HERE.

On Sunday, February 22, you’ll be able to meet Nancy at Kimball Avenue Church, 3429 W. Diversey Ave. (2nd Fl) at 10:00 am.  She will be joined by Luke Sullivan, an organizer with Arise Chicago, a faith-based organization that is addressing issues of worker injustice.  With their help, we will begin to look at the issues facing low-wage workers everywhere. Be sure to read the comments posted below Nancy’s story.  This will give you a sense of the public opinion about raising the minimum wage. As you read them, ask yourself how Jesus might comment.  I’m sure we’ll talk about it when we meet Nancy on Sunday.