US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Chicago workers march for higher wages

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Today in Chicago, a number of retail and fast food workers have walked out on the job in protest of low wages.

Workers from McDonald's, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, Macy's, and Sears were just some of those hoping to gain momentum for raising wages and in some cases organizing unions. The act is part of the Fight for 15 campaign, which is seeking to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 an hour. Minimum wage in Illinois is currently $8.25 per hour, a full dollar more than the federal minimum wage, set at $7.25 per hour.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, the executive director of Arise Chicago, a faith-based workers' rights organization says quite simply: "We all know that you cannot live on $8.25 an hour. We need to stop pretending this [policy] is working." For so many people across the country, working hard at a full-time job often doesn’t provide enough money to guarantee basic provisions such as shelter and food.

The Catholic Church has a history of supporting workers and unions. It’s very clear in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching: "Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected--the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative."

For more on fair wages and labor practices, be sure to check out our upcoming June issue, where we interview Interfaith Worker Justice executive director Kim Bobo. We’ll also take a look on how workplace policies can be more beneficial to families.