Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Monday, May 2, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Pacifica Senior Living - Calaroga Terrace

Home : News : Nation and World
After 75 years since minimum wage established, workers still struggle
Catholic News Service photo
Fast-food workers and their supporters participate at a rally in demand of higher wages at Union Square in New York July 29.
Catholic News Service photo
Fast-food workers and their supporters participate at a rally in demand of higher wages at Union Square in New York July 29. "We can't survive on 7-25!" was among the slogans chanted by the protesters, a reference to New York state's minimum wage of $7.2 5 an hour.

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Seventy-five years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a national minimum wage, many workers still struggle to support themselves and their families living at or slightly above that pay.

"Jobs that are paid minimum wage take a lot of physical effort. You're on your feet; you're moving and working quickly. Imagine working that hard and not feeling like you can provide for yourself and your family -- it is incredibly demoralizing," said Judy Conti, an activist with National Employment Law Project.

The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour; had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation it would be at $10.74 per hour. Additionally, minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't been raised in more than 20 years and remains at $2.13 an hour.

Chanting "we can't survive on 7.25," many fast-food workers have organized walkouts in cities like Chicago, Milwaukee and New York City. The movement in Chicago called "Fight for 15" held protests Aug. 1 and has encouraged others in the city and around America to fight for living wages.

"God bless these people," said Conti. "They've got nothing to lose." While she believes the federal minimum wage should be increased, she also champions the workers for dealing with the problem directly.

To her, raising low wages makes sense economically: "The more people you squeeze out of the middle class, the more no one has the money to buy your products. Good wages is a virtuous cycle; it fuels an economy that works."

According to a poll by Rasmussen Reports, 61 percent of Americans favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10, the amount the Fair Wage Bill of 2013 proposes. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., has introduced the bill, which would change the tipped wage to $3 an hour, gradually raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and thereafter leave the future of minimum wage rate up to Department of Labor. The bill has not yet left committee.

Kali Radke, 31, works part time at $8.25 an hour, a dollar above the federal minimum wage, while going to school for nursing. While she had been living in a shelter, she and her 9-year-old daughter now live in Fort Meade, Md., in transitional housing at Sarah's House, operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Because of the scarcity of full-time minimum wage jobs, many people she knows work multiple part-time jobs to support themselves. Even then, it's easy to be let go if something like a child's sickness prevents them from coming into work.

"It's an employer's market," Radke told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview. Though she hopes to get a managerial position, and eventually a job in nursing, she realizes that not everyone has opportunities for a career change. "Some people can't go to school, but if you're willing to put in 40 hours a week, you should be able to afford a crappy apartment and it's just not possible."

Almost half of minimum wage workers, 47 percent, are full-time employees over the age of twenty. 24 percent are parents, and more than a third are minorities, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington.

With an increase in the minimum wage "things would still be tight, but at least I'd be able to put a roof over our heads," said Radke.

Church teaching has long supported just wages and fair treatment of employees. For example, Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical "Rerum Novarum" (1891) to address the difficulties faced by the working class in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. "Wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner," he wrote.

Catholics also have been involved in furthering a just wage in America. "Msgr. John A. Ryan wrote one of the first pieces on (state minimum wage law)," said Michael Naughton from the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, part of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. "There was a grave concern for people to be able to achieve their needs with the wages that they make."

Brian Engelland, an economics professor at The Catholic University of America, fears that increasing the federal minimum wage may not be beneficial to the overall economy: "It's rough and inexact when it's done on a national basis because there such a great difference between costs of living between, say, Mississippi and D.C. Fair wages should be done more on a regional basis."

However, he believes that local government as well as employees, employers, consumers and investors should actively promote and bargain for just wages that are realistic for their individual companies.

"Because of the way we were created, we like to work and we'll work whether we're paid or not," he said. "Consequently, humans do not do a good job in negotiations. We've gotta tip the scales toward human dignity so that the individual worker doesn't get the short end of the stick."

"It wouldn't be a bad idea" to have minimum wage laws legislated at a local level, "but the federal minimum should keep pace," said Charlie Clark from St. John's University in the New York borough of Queens.

The majority of minimum wage employers, corporations like Wal-Mart, Target and McDonald's, can afford a wage hike, according to the National Employment Law Project. Two-thirds of those employing minimum wage workers are not mom-and-pop stores, but large corporations with more than 100 employees. Seventy-eight percent have been profitable every year for the past three years, and 63 percent of these companies are earning higher profits now than before the recession. Much of that money is benefiting the higher-ups.

"If you look at the data of labor productivity until the mid-1970s, wages went up with productivity," said Clark. "Productivity increases now go to owners."

Still, debate on a higher minimum wage based on differing economic theories has prevented passage of any measure to raise it. Clark told CNS that for many years economists believed that raising the minimum wage would raise unemployment, "but then they started to empirically test it and there's no evidence that unemployment goes up. Now economists are split about 50/50."

Naughton believes that a just wage is part of right relationship between employees and employers. "The role of virtue should inform these wage relationships from a scriptural, Catholic perspective," he said. "Are there ways I can dignify the work? How can you promote the growth of your co-worker versus seeing an employee as an eight-hour unit?"

Conti believes she was called to help people to support themselves. "I was raised in all of the traditions of Catholic social justice, not just charity, not just handouts but real opportunities for people to better themselves."

Related Stories:
• We owe them for weekend

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved