Faith Reflection by Father Frank Corbishley

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Federal minimum wage, had it kept current with inflation, would be $10.74.  Instead, the current Federal minimum wage is $7.25.  This means that, in real dollar terms, the Federal minimum wage is worth just two-thirds of what it was worth in the 1970’s.  When this is coupled with the fact that a larger percentage of the American work force earns minimum wage today than in the 1970’s, we see clearly that this country is moving backwards in the living standards of our working people.  Because wage laws do not include a stipulation that the minimum wage be indexed to inflation, every time we have a debate on this issue we are merely fighting to regain some of the ground lost rather than fighting to move ahead. Ethical employers cannot compete against the unscrupulous greedy employers who are more than willing to undercut their competitors on price by keeping wages low.  This is one of many reasons why it is imperative to increase the Federal minimum wage, in order to provide a morally tenable level playing field.  In a country as rich as ours, no one working full time should be earning poverty wages.  As people of faith we should realize that we are judged by how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. 

Father Frank J. Corbishley is the Chaplain of St. Bede Chapel at the University of Miami.

Reflection on May 15th #GlobalFastFood Strike Miami

Monday, June 02, 2014

May 15th was a Global Fast Food Workers Strike Day. In more than 135 U.S. cities and dozens of cities around the world, workers from fast food restaurants went on strike, standing up to demand a living wage for the hard work they provide for the industry. The fast food industry is a billion dollar industry that is growing every year. The profit made by top restaurant CEOs in 2012, in fact, averaged about 788 times the minimum wage made by their employees, according to the Economic Policy Institute (see the chart here). Many of these workers depend on their job in fast food restaurants to make ends meet and often it isn't enough.

Being able to walk with these workers in Miami, one of the cities to hold first fast food strikes, was a powerful experience because we met the workers who struggled daily. We saw that they were risking their jobs to speak out for what they believed was the right thing to do for themselves, their loved ones, and their co-workers. It is really easy to say "get a new job" until you meet a worker whose daily life is dependent upon two jobs that barely provide for her and her three children. 

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice joined the workers in solidarity at the crack of dawn and later in the pouring rain so that we could offer our support. And, we, along with faith leaders from many faith communities that came out to meet the workers that day and to hear their stories, will continue to stand with these and other workers until they gain the respect that they deserve in their workplaces. 

Check out a short video, "Miami Fast Food Strikers Return to Work" to find out what happened after strikes.