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Religious Leaders Announce National Grassroots Campaign
to Raise Wages at the Federal and State Levels 


Washington, November 4, 2005 -- Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) stood with religious leaders in the Capitol Monday and declared the minimum wage is “a moral issue.”

The leaders gathered in a press conference to condemn the $5.15 minimum wage and to launch a new national grassroots campaign, "The Let Justice Roll/Living Wage Campaign." 

The Campaign will bring the voice of prominent members of the religious community to the national fight to raise the federal minimum wage.  In addition -- frustrated with federal inaction -- faith leaders will announce their commitment to work to pass ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in several states in 2006.

“Raising the minimum wage is not just an economic issue,” Kennedy said. “It’s a woman’s issue. It’s a civil rights issue. It’s a family issue. But – perhaps more than anything – the minimum wage is a moral issue. Over the past five years the Bush administration has done a lot for the powerful and wealthy. They have done a lot for corporate America. But they have done little to provide for the working people who are struggling to survive.”

The Campaign will release a sign-on letter from numerous religious leaders from across the country to Members of Congress and a new book outlining the ethical and economic underpinnings of faith-based support for raising the minimum wage. In addition, the Campaign will announce "Living Wage Days," which is scheduled for Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, January 14-16, 2006. During that weekend, worship services and rallies will take place around the country to inspire, educate and mobilize congregations and community organizations to support and act for raising the minimum wage.

Religious leaders who joined Kennedy were the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council Churches USA; the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Pastor of Riverside Church, New York; the Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, Coordinator, "Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty; "
Holly Sklar, Political analyst and author of "A Just Minimum Wage: Good For Workers, Business and Our Future;" and Kitty Hsu Dana, Associate General Secretary for Advancement, American Friends Service Committee.

"A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it," the religious leaders agreed. Edgar said the current minimum wage of $5.15 is a moral outrage.

By continuing to leave the minimum wage at this level, it effectively sentences millions of workers and their families to live in abject poverty. The "Let Justice Roll/Living Wage Campaign" will be working with churches, synagogues, mosques, Quaker meetings and community groups to support and advocate for increases in minimum wage on the national and state level.

Contact NCC News,  Leslie Tune, 202-544-2350.


 

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