Happy Labor Day weekend! As we honor and support workers this weekend I share with you a brief reflection from the U.S. Catholic Bishops.
“For many of us, Labor Day provides a much-needed break from the rigors of our busy work weeks. But as we gather with friends and family this Labor Day, we also are reminded of our Catholic responsibility to honor and support those who work hard to keep our society and our economy healthy-especially those who work hard but remain in poverty.
A special duty to the poor is a part of our Church's tradition called Catholic Social Teaching. As the U.S. Catholic Bishops write, "Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came ‘to bring glad tidings to the poor’… (Luke 4:18-19), and who identified himself with ‘the least of these,’ the hungry and the stranger (cf. Matthew 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor … As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, ‘To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1397).”
While I was in Colorado Springs in July the Boycott of Wendy’s Restaurants, which I write about below, was brought to my attention. I offer you the following article as a practical idea to help celebrate the gift of labor, as well as the holiday we celebrate at the end of summer.
Let us continue to pray for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,
Standing with Workers for Labor Day
Farmworkers Call for Boycott of Wendy’s Restaurants
Put “labor” back into Labor Day weekend! As we head into September, remember the farmworkers in our diocese and around the country who are harvesting many of the fresh fruits and vegetables you’re enjoying this season. Show your solidarity by supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-based human-rights organization of farmworkers in southern Florida.
CIW, a recipient of major funding and prestigious awards from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (a pro-gram of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), has developed the Fair Food Program to improve the lives of farmworkers. It started with tomato pickers who labored under wretched and exploitative conditions. They recognized the tremendous buying power of the national food industry which demanded low prices from suppliers, thus keeping farmworkers’ wages stagnant for decades. They organized a campaign that rallied national support to pressure the largest buyers of tomatoes, namely fast food chains and grocery stores, to pay a penny more per pound for those tomatoes.
This money goes directly to the farmworkers and has meant a 20% - 35% weekly pay increase for these workers according to the New York Times. The program has also made great progress in improving conditions in the fields and ending abuse of workers.
Corporations that have signed on to the program include: Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Subway, WalMart, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. However, the fast food chain Wendy’s has not yet agreed to join the program. Moreover, they have stopped buying tomatoes grown in Florida altogether!
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its allies have reached the point of calling for a consumer boycott of Wendy’s restaurants. This kind of consumer pressure has brought other corporations to agree to sign onto the Fair Food Program. It will take great consumer support to convince the Wendy’s corporation, but you can be part of that effort.
You can sign the petition http://www.boycott-wendys.org/stating that you won’t eat at Wendy’s until the company joins the Fair Food program.
You can print out a letter about the boycott and bring it to your local Wendy’s manager; the letter can be found at the website listed above.