Wednesday, May 25, 2011

United We Stand . . .


One of the devices used consistently in our corporate culture to maintain lower wages, fewer benefits, and to resist worker organizing, are various differences of class, based on jobs or positions. Like never before, we must work to remove the false divisions between the working class and the professional class, between blue collar and white collar. The reality is that only 2% of Americans earn in excess of $250,000 per year, only 6-7% earn over $100,000, and nearly every working person, regardless of their educational level, is slowly losing any real income growth. The sooner we come to recognize that there is no difference between an office worker, a factory worker, or a Wal-Mart worker, the quicker we can begin to build social and political consensus, and begin to unite based on our common interests.
So how do we build this consensus? One way is by standing united on issues that weaken our rights. We must be vigilant in defense of fair representation in the work place, we must support calls for reasonable minimum wages and benefits, we must recognize the inherent, and absurd, lopsided pay scales in the executive suites, as compared to the wages of the housekeepers cleaning those suites.  
Critically, as wage earners, we must be prepared to take this fight beyond our borders. If corporations can produce their products where there is no resistance, and exploitation is easier, they will . . . and they do. Outsourcing jobs to foreign workers has eroded job opportunity here in America, regardless of education; from steel mills, to customer support, to engineering services. By partnering globally, with workers throughout the world, we can put real pressure on corporations; workers will no longer be divided, and thus conquered. 
You can join this fight right now
Wal-Mart currently buys cloth from a manufacturer that has threatened the lives of striking workers who dared to request a living wage.  
In Bangladesh, the minimum wage for a garment worker is a mere $43 per month, or about 20 cents an hour-- the lowest wage, by far, of any major garment producing country. When Bangladeshi workers staged protests demanding a livable wage, factory owners responded with fabricated criminal charges against three labor leaders from the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity: Kalpona Akter, Babul Akhter, and Aminul Islam. These three organizers spent 30 days in jail, where they were threatened and tortured. They are now free on bail; however, the falsified charges against them remain. If convicted, they face possible life imprisonment or even the death penaltyWal-Mart is the leading exporter of these garments.
As women and men who follow Jesus, we are being engaged to help persuade Wal-Mart to tell their corrupt suppliers to drop all charges against the labor leaders, and to demand that the officers responsible for torturing these individuals be held accountable. We further are requesting that WalMart demand that their suppliers allow labor rights defenders, like the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, to operate freely. 
Please Click Here and take action by May 31st!
Alesia Martin
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's a Matter of Priorities!

As our governments - local, state and federal - struggle to find ways to bring their budgets into balance, much of the conversation, indeed most of it, has centered on the cuts we must make to our social safety net. That metaphor is powerfully appropriate as I can visualize the very real people that will be falling through that net; to despair, to utter poverty, to exacerbated mental health issues, to a place of where no treatment’s available for health conditions, to no heat/no electricity, to no unemployment benefits, to no food stamps, to no public housing because of a failed drug test, to sleeping outdoors . . . Need I go on?

Meanwhile, what have you heard about cuts to the largest welfare recipients*:

  • Bank of America, with $4.4 Billion in profits last year, a $1 Trillion BAILOUT, and $1.9 Billion Tax Refund from the IRS
  • General Electric, who has cut 20% of its “American” jobs in the past 9 years, while growing jobs overseas, received a $4.1 Billion Tax Refund, while making $26 Billion in profits over the past 5 years
  • Goldman Sachs, made $2.3 Billion in profits, after receiving $800 Billion in BAILOUT money and paid . . . 1.1% in income taxes
  • Carnival Cruise Lines generated profits of $16 Billion over the past five years, but paid less than $200 Million in taxes
  • Citigroup paid ZERO taxes on $4 Billion in profits, after receiving a $2.5 Trillion BAILOUT
We, as a nation, can afford to care for “the least of these.” The money exists. It is simply a matter of priorities!

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is shouting loud and clear!

Asking you to Imagine . . . People over Profits!

Rev. Otis Moss III
Senior Pastor, Trinity UCC

*Figures adapted from “Senator Bernie Sanders’ Guide to Corporate Freeloaders”

Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to the Trinity United Church of Christ Justice Watch Blog!

Are you looking for a place to get perspectives, and ask questions, about social justice from a Christ-centered point of view? Would you like to hear your voice heard and exchange with others about what Christians are called to do in helping the "least of these?" How can people of faith respond with authority and determination as "agents of change?"

We welcome all questions and comments that are geared towards affirming the role of faith believers to make a difference. Let's talk, argue, and even organize in the name of LOVE, to speak truth to power! We ask that you please speak with compassion and respect, as all words have some significance, even if they are false. We build a better community by speaking with, and not to or about each other. 

Let's celebrate our energy, and our desire to change our condition in the name of Jesus who orders our steps.

Kevin Tyson
Chair-Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team