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Bishop Urges Council to Pass Bill
The Vision
Jeremiah J. Park

January 13, 2011
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To Speaker Christine Quinn and the Members of the New York City Council:

I am writing to express my personal support and the support of the hundreds of churches and tens of thousands of United Methodists in the New York Annual Conference for the proposed “Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.” We adopted a resolution of support at our session in June 2010.

As people of faith, we ardently believe that God desires economic justice, as expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and other sacred writings. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers . . . Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:1–10). And the Letter from James to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations says, “Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4).

Methodists in the U.S. have been advocating “a living wage in every industry” since 1908, and our legislative body, the General Conference, has repeatedly reaffirmed support for the living wage movement, calling “upon businesses and governments to adopt policies to ensure employees are paid sufficient wages to afford shelter, food, clothing, health care and other basic expenses, according to local costs of living.”

Every year, the City of New York subsidizes economic development projects with billions of taxpayer dollars. Yet, too often, the jobs created with these public subsidies pay poverty wages and provide no benefits. Other major cities across the U.S., such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Diego, and Los Angeles, require fair wages on many subsidized projects. These policies are not only equitable, but serve as economic drivers: they have led to the creation of good jobs for low-income families without hampering economic growth in those cities.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act is an important step toward ensuring a living wage for New York City’s low-wage workforce. It is a critical step in fi ghting poverty, providing a decent standard of living to working class individuals and families, and in fueling our economy.

Campaigning for economic justice over forty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King proclaimed, “Now is the time to make an adequate income a reality for all God’s children.” I urge you to support the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act and bring it to quick passage for a more just, fair, and vibrant New York City. Now is nthe Time!

Grace and Peace,
Jeremiah J. Park
Resident Bishop