Bishop Blaire Calls On Businesses, Churches, Unions, Private Citizens To Reduce Inequality In 2013 Labor Day Statement

August 12, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The growing disparity inthe income of U.S. workers is the focus of the 2013 Labor Day Statement ofBishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the Committee onDomestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops (USCCB).

In the statement, dated September 2,Bishop Blaire said that most people want to live in a more equal society thatprovides opportunities for everyone. "The current imbalances do not have to beinevitable," Bishop Blaire wrote. "We must be bold in promoting a just economythat reduces inequality by creating jobs that pay a living wage and share withworkers some profits of the company, as well as ensuring a strong safety netfor jobless workers and their families and those who are incapable of work."

Bishop Blaire echoed the words ofPope Francis, that "work is fundamental to the dignity of a person…. it givesus the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growthof one's own nation." Bishop Blaire said millions of workers are "denied thishonor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages,wage theft, abuse or exploitation."

Even amid a modest economicrecovery, he said, "Over four million people have been jobless for over sixmonths, and that does not include the millions more who have simply lost hope;for every available job, there are as many as five unemployed and underemployedpeople actively vying for it. This gap pushes wages down – half of the jobs inthis country pay less than $27,000. Over 46 million people live in poverty, 16million of them children," he wrote.

He noted that individuals, theChurch, businesses, government and community organizations all share theresponsibility to create jobs that allow workers to support themselves andtheir families.

"Ethical and moral business leadersknow that it is wrong to chase profits and success at the expense of workers'dignity," he wrote. "They know they have a vocation to build the kind ofsolidarity that honors the worker and the least among us. They remember thatthe economy is 'for people.'"

Bishop Blaire cited the importanceof unions in helping workers participate in company decisions that affect themand noted that the rise in income inequality has paralleled the decline ofunions in the United States. He urged unions to continually improve themselvesand focus on issues including "raising the minimum wage, stopping wage theft,"and "standing up for safe and healthy working conditions."

Bishop Blaire also voiced supportfor immigrants, calling for policies that "bring immigrant workers out of theshadows to a legal status and offer them a just and fair path to citizenship,so that their human rights are protected and the wages for all workers rise."

The 2013 Labor Day Statement isavailable online in English and Spanish at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-archives.cfm

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Keywords: Labor Day, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Stockton,California, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, USCCB, U.S.bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, unemployment, underemployment,income inequality, wage theft, workers, unions, businesses, economy, minimumwage, recession, human dignity, Pope Francis

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