Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is there a ladder to climb?

   This Saturday, I was privileged to hear green jobs guru Van Jones speak at the anniversary celebration for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. Jones began by talking about the lessons his father, a working class man, taught him. His father stressed to him that it was up to Van to make sure he took the steps to climb out of poverty. If he didn't have the mindset to make that climb, and didn't do the hard work it required, nothing else would matter.

   But, his father said, "it's society's job to make sure that you have a ladder to climb." Jones said, and I agree, that this is where we are failing as a country right now.

  Hearing these remarks, I immediately thought of the hard-working people, mostly women, who are paid poverty wages to keep the University of Memphis clean. America has promised them that their hard work will bring rewards. They rise every day while you and I are still asleep to begin work several hours before the sun rises. Many of them have worked at the University for years, putting in the time you'd think it takes to rise to a decent pay rate. But still, they're paid poverty wages.

   Who can make sure workers at the University of Memphis have a ladder to climb out of poverty? There's two groups that can make a living wage a reality for these workers. One is the administration of University President Shirley Raines. That's who we focused on at the speak out for a living wage held in October. But the state legislature also has a big influence on whether these workers will be paid the living wage for their hard work. That's who we're focusing on at our prayer vigil this Saturday.

   At the vigil, we'll pray for the upcoming legislative session. We'll hear from University workers. We'll urge legislators to pass equitable pay raises for workers, who've had no raise at all in three years. We'll call on legislators to reject any attempts to repeal living wage ordinances we've already won in Memphis and Shelby County. And we'll hear from Rep. Jeanne Richardson and other legislators about their plans for the living wage over the next few months of the legislative session.

   Please join us this Saturday - make sure that workers don't stand alone. Be part of sending a strong, clear message to our legislature: now is the time for a living wage.

Vigil for a living wage:
asking our legislators to do their part
Saturday, Jan. 22nd at 1:00 p.m.
Wesley Foundation at University of Memphis
3625 Midland Ave.
Limited parking available behind the Wesley Foundation. Additional parking at St. Luke's United Methodist Church at the corner of S. Highland and Midland.

The vigil is indoors, so there's no need to worry about bad weather.

No comments:

Post a Comment