Faith Groups Call for Fair Minimum Wage

More than 40 faith and community organizations launched a campaign to support an increase in the federal minimum wage and to raise awareness about the plight of the nation’s low-income population.

The “Let Justice Roll/Living Wage” campaign, part of the larger “Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty” effort, was launched on May 20, 2005 – two days after the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005 was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.

If passed, the legislation would increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour over two years. Supporters, including the National Council of Churches USA, hope the bill would curb the increasing number of people who live in poverty.

"This legislation is so important because of the severe needs that poor working people have," said Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, the coordinator of the "Let Justice Roll/Living Wage" campaign to the NCC. "We will work through communities of faith and community groups to urge Congress to pass this legislation without delay."

Wage rates rose in small increments over the past few decades, but have not kept pace with the rate of inflation. According to the NCC, to have the purchasing power of 1968 wages, today’s minimum would have to be $8.90/hour – exactly $3.75 more than it is today.

“Faith and community groups are concerned about the increasing number of workers paid poverty wages in this nation,” the NCC wrote.

The living wage campaign is part of the larger Voices Against Poverty campaign that began last year. To date, the anti-poverty campaign registered about 100,000 new voters.