Church Leaders Join Campaign to Raise Minimum Wage to $10

More than 600 faith leaders from all 50 states have endorsed a letter calling for state and federal officials to raise the minimum wage to $10 in 2010.

According to the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, minimum wage raises have been "so little, so late" that even with the increase to $7.25 last Friday, workers will still make less than the $7.93 minimum wage of 1956, adjusting for inflation.

"It would take $9.92 to match the buying power of the minimum wage of 1968," noted the coalition of over 100 member organizations. "That's why the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign says the minimum wage raise on July 24 is good, but not good enough."

As Holly Sklar, senior policy adviser for Let Justice Roll, has noted, minimum wage was enacted during the Great Depression to put a floor under workers' wages and stimulate the economy.

"The fall in worker buying power is a big reason we're in the worst economic meltdown since the Depression. You can't build a strong economy on poverty wages," she stated.

The Rev. Paul Sherry, executive director of Let Justice Roll, meanwhile called it "immoral" that the minimum wage does not cover the cost of basic human needs.

"We need a wage ethic to go with our work ethic. We can start by raising the minimum wage again to $10 in 2010," he asserted.

Let Justice Roll is calling for a minimum wage of $10 in 2010 to bring America closer to the "minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers" promised in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.

Prominent signatories of the campaign's letter to Congress include Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Thurston, president of the National Baptist Convention of America; the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church; the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly; and the Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, among others.