by James Parks, Dec 2, 2010
In times of crisis, many American families turn to their religious faith for inspiration and hope. With millions of people unemployed, America’s faith community, which includes many union members, is mobilizing to provide tangible, hands-on aid to families as well as spiritual solace.
Under the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), faith groups, political leaders and progressive activists have come together in the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign, which was launched today at a Capitol Hill meeting. The campaign will help combat the severe unemployment crisis that is devastating so many working people and families and help rebuild the foundations of our nation’s economy.
In its mission statement, the campaign says:
As people of faith, we call for an economy that provides a job for everyone who wants and needs one. We affirm that all jobs should be good jobs, paying living wages and benefits, allowing workers dignity and a voice at the workplace, ensuring workers’ health and safety, and guaranteeing their right to organize unions.
The campaign will begin an ambitious effort to organize 1,000 congregation-based unemployed worker support committees in 2011. The committees will support working people and families economically, emotionally and spiritually, while also educating members about the unemployment crisis and advocacy avenues available to them.
The committees, composed of both the employed and the currently unemployed, will be part of a nation-wide network that will push for new policy initiatives to address the jobs crisis, including
- An economic stimulus package to create and retain millions of jobs, including revitalizing the manufacturing sector.
- A public jobs program as a component of the economic stimulus package.
- A public jobs program that will create vital and sustainable jobs: jobs that will rebuild our nation’s infrastructure; green jobs; mass transit; jobs that the private sector cannot create, such as expanded child care and clean-up of toxic dumps.
- Support for unemployed workers and families. This support should include extended unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, COBRA subsidies, food stamps, and other safety net programs.
- Support for states and municipalities to maintain and strengthen social safety programs, retain teachers, police, fire fighters, and other essential public workers.
- Development of educational programs in support of job creation and retention and a restored economy.