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Video: Professor Joe McCartin
NFPC is pleased to offer a link to a YouTube video of a presentation by Professor Joe McCartin to the April 2013 gathering of Labor Priests at the NFPC Conference held in Reno, NV.
The theme of the 35-minute presentation is Labor, Labor Priests, and the Catholic Church in America: An Overview.
Dr. McCartin is Executive Director of Kalmanowitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor based at Georgetown University. He is also Associate Professor of History at Georgetown.
"Not paying a just wage, not providing work, focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at making profit...That goes against God!"
Over the past two months, hotel workers in our nation’s major metropolitan areas have walked out of Marriott hotels in a nationwide strike. As of October 8, nearly 8,000 members of the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE were on the picket lines in Boston, Detroit, Honolulu, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. What do they want? Well, it’s simple really. They are tired of working multiple jobs to earn enough to support their families. Their placards say it all: One Job Should Be Enough.
There was a time in this country when a man or woman who was willing to work hard and put in a forty-hour week would earn enough to live, modestly but comfortably. At the end of the day you’d be tired, but whether you were a high school graduate or a college graduate, you’d be able to go home after your shift and spend time with your children – not report to a second job or a “side hustle” with Uber while your children were left unattended and unsupervised.
The most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that the median hourly wage for hotel and motel desk clerks and housekeepers is $10.99 per hour, or about $22,000 per year, if you are fortunate enough to find full-time, year-round employment. That’s less than $2,000 per month. In many US cities you can hardly find an apartment for that, let alone cover food, utilities, child care or health insurance.
Unfortunately, the hospitality industry is not unique. If you don’t have a special skill in high demand to give you a leg up – that is, if you are trying to make a living on your hard work alone – the American labor market today can be a cold place. More than one quarter of American workers earn less than $12 per hour, a $24,000 annual salary for 40 hours per week. Could you live on that?
Low wages are only one reason why workers in our nation’s hotels often have to take a second job. Some face chronic insecurity as on-call employees in banquet services; others lose their health insurance during the cold winter months due to seasonal layoffs.
Banding together in a union and acting collectively can give workers a fighting chance at making sure one job is enough. Thanks to last year’s massive corporate tax cut, the already profitable hotel chain landed a reported $200 million windfall. Marriott’s housekeepers, bell staff and desk clerks are asking, what about us? This largely immigrant workforce, often toiling at one or more side jobs to make ends meet, has stood up and spoken out: One Job Should Be Enough.
Show your solidarity with these workers. Visit the strikers’ website and sign the pledge that you will not patronize Marriott until the workers win a fair contract. And pray always, for justice for hotel workers and for workers everywhere.
- Donate: Local strikers need help supporting their families. Donate to the strike fund to make sure strikers can feed their kids and pay for housing.
- Encourage: If you’re headed past the picket line or rally, give a honk or word of support.
- Food: Being on the picket line all day can be exhausting. Stop by the local picket line with snacks and drinks.
- Join: Solidarity is one of the greatest acts of faith. Consider finding your local picket line and join in. Be sure to wear religious garb and let managers know that you are joining because of your faith.
- Host: Have an event at your place of worship. Invite workers to share their stories and learn how to support them. Provide space for organizing, child/elderly care, and fundraising.
- Community support: Get your religious congregation involved. Make banners, host events, sign up for shifts at the picket line, or provide spaces for worker organizing.
- Preach: Whether you preach or there is someone designated to do so, ask that person to address the strikes. Ask them to address the rights and dignity of workers and the need for fair contracts.
- Social media: Use your voice as a person of faith to educate and advocate. Be sure to tag @Marriott and use the hashtags #1job, #MarriottStrike, and your faith tradition (e.g. #Catholic).
- Pray: Offer up prayers for the strikers and for the well-being of their families. Pray for a strong contract that respects the dignity of workers. Pray that Marriott, management, and the union bargain in good faith for the dignity of work and the workers.
Action Call: Labor Priests Supporting Striking Workers:
Here in Chicago we have had 26 downtown hotels on strike. As of today, there is 1 hold out. Rallies are being planned. The other 25 settled and met the demands of the workers for year-round health care. (They were cutting off health care in the slower winter months.) The strike at this final hotel is in its 7th week. Our local Labor priests and local Interfaith Worker Justice group (ARISE Chicago) have been very helpful. Cardinal Cupich honored the strike when he moved the luncheon for our new auxiliary bishops and their guests from one of the hotels and moved it to Catholic Charities. No one crossed the picket line. This gesture was noted by all of Chicago Labor and much appreciated. Bishop Kane, one of our auxiliary bishops, who chairs the Archdiocese-Labor Working Group sent a great letter to all pastors and archdiocesan agency directors advising them of the strike, reminding them to honor the picket lines, withdraw events from affected hotels, and be ready to help families affected by the strike. His letter is attached here. Very powerful moment for us here.
As of today, there are strikes at Marriott hotels across the country in Boston, Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Honolulu and Maui. Seattle was on the verge, but Marriott met the workers’ demands there and the workers will vote this coming Friday to ratify a new contract. We had a great team of priests lined up in Seattle ready to assist. Last week in San Jose, Fr. Jon Pedigo led a procession and had a mass with the workers there. Labor leaders are reaching out to our Labor priests’ network in all these key cities
This coming Saturday, Oct. 20th, there will be rallies in all of these cities: Boston at Copley Plaza at 2:00 p.m.; Detroit at Westin Book Cadillac at 4:00 p.m.; at the Oakland Marriott City Center at 2:00 p.m.; in San Francisco at Local 2 Plaza at 9:00 a.m.; in San Jose at San Jose Marriott at 4:30 p.m.; at San Diego Civic Center at 5:00 p.m. and at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Honolulu at 11:30. All priests are welcomed to ” go to the worker” as Pope Leo XIII exhorted.
Workers at these hotels are also calling upon faith leaders to sign a pledge of support, and to decline the Green Choice program now and in the future. I am attaching materials about this campaign here and here.
Most Rev. Francis Kane, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdioceses of Chicago, contributed a letter encouraging support of the strikers, including a straight forward request to not cross picket lines, praying for a quick resolution.
Please also read my letter asking for your support for the striking Marriott workers.
Catholic Labor Network:
Our Priest-Labor initiative is working with the Catholic Labor Network in the development of a proposal to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to develop stronger local programs for workers based in our parishes. This would also involve the training of priests and deacons for this collaboration.
Collaboration with Labor Movement:
This year we have seen greater outreach of Catholic clergy in Labor Day events, workers’ masses, and memorials for workers who died in work-related accidents. Bishop Robert McElroy worked with the Central Labor Council and UNITE HERE Local 1 leader, Bridget Browning, to re-establish Labor Day in San Diego. Dissemination of the Bishops’ Annual Labor Day message has been an important focus for us. Fr. Mike Seavey (Portland, Me) gave a stirring address at the rally in front of the Supreme Court in defense of the American Labor Movement during the Janus hearing. Fr. Clete Kiley (Chicago) was a featured speaker at the Illinois/Chicago Labor rally in support of Labor against the Janus decision. Fr. Jon Pedigo (San Jose) has been helping local unions in California, Hawaii and Nevada strengthen relationships with faith communities. Fr. Tony Shonis (Owensboro) recently addressed the Central Labor Council in Western Kentucky.
Immigration Issues and Labor Priests:
Many of our Labor priests are also deeply concerned about a range of immigration related issues. Catholic priests have joined with immigration advocates in protecting workers from work place immigration raids, family separations, “know-your-rights” initiatives. Recent workplace raids in Ohio saw unions, such as UFCW, working with the local Catholic parish to attend to families impacted by work place raids. In Philadelphia, Labor priests Bob Bonnot (Youngstown), Bernie Survil (Greensburg), and Efren Esmilia (Philadelphia) joined a rally organized by national Labor unions, the Philadelphia Central Labor Council and the Philadelphia Building Trades. Catholic priests and Catholic Bishop Edward Deliman (Philadelphia) were on the dais along with the President of the National Council of Churches, representatives of the USCCB, and a broad range of interfaith leaders. This was to protest ” immigrant children in cages,” family separation and continued workplace raids.
Fr. Clete Kiley
Priest-Labor Initiative/ @ NFPC