The Launch

Faith Advocates for Jobs Launches in DC
December 2, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – DECEMBER 2, 2010

Contact: Rev. Paul Sherry, Coordinator, Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign & Director, DC Office, Interfaith Worker Justice, 202-525-3055, psherry@iwj.org

Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign Kicks Off in Washington
Senators Join Faith Leaders, Labor Advocates on Momentous New Unemployment Initiative

On Thursday Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) addressed more than 60 people from faith communities and advocacy organizations gathered in Washington for the launch of Faith Advocates for Jobs, a campaign coordinated by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) that will tackle the nationwide unemployment crisis.

Rev. Paul Sherry, coordinator of the campaign, announced that IWJ will build support committees for unemployed workers in congregations across America in the coming months.

“Most Members [of Congress] don’t know any unemployed people,” said Senator Brown of Ohio. But, he remarked, unemployed workers are in congregations where they receive support – even food and shelter when necessary.

Senator Casey of Pennsylvania told of unemployed workers coming to Washington to give personal testimony about their experience of living on Unemployment Insurance (UI). “They should not walk alone,” he said.

“The world would be a different place if one million unemployed workers said, ‘I need help in my fight for dignity, in my fight for work,'” Senator Sanders of Vermont remarked.

“We call for an economy that provides a job for everyone who wants and needs one,” said Rev. Sherry. “All jobs should be good jobs that pay decent wages, provide good benefits, and respect the dignity of the worker.”

Marge Clark of NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, quoted a U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy:

“Unemployment is a tragedy no matter whom it strikes, but the tragedy is compounded by the unequal and unfair way it is distributed in our society.”

While the official unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, the real unemployment rate, which includes those who have stopped looking for work or have taken a part-time job when they want full time work, would be at least 17 percent of the American workforce. Reauthorization of the federal extended Unemployment Insurance benefits has failed repeatedly in Congress.

“With the current crisis of unemployment, which is not predicted to materially improve anytime soon, IWJ’s commitment to organizing congregations to advocate for and support the unemployed couldn’t come at a better time,” said Judy Conti, Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Other advocates representing the National Council of Churches (NCC), the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the AFL-CIO presented their visions for solving the country’s protracted jobs crisis.

In the coming months, Faith Advocates for Jobs campaign will:

• organize congregation-based unemployed worker support committees
• advocate public policy initiatives to address the ongoing jobs crisis
• develop educational programs and resources in support of job creation and a restored economy

For more information on the campaign, please contact Rev. Paul Sherry in Interfaith Worker Justice’s DC office at 202-525-3055, psherry@iwj.org.

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