On January 8, 2007, leaders of the Reconstructionist movement joined with leaders from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and the Union for Reform Judaism in sending a letter to members of Congress calling for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour. This effort sprang from relationships established at a meeting in November, 2006 in which a joint statement on Israel was released. They come together to issue the following statement:
As members of the religious community, morally guided by our religious texts, our shared prophetic traditions value compassion, economic justice, and cultivating strong families and communities. We take to heart the words from Deuteronomy and that command us to open our hands to the poor and moreover, to help others establish self-sufficiency. An increase in the federal minimum wage gives those in minimum wage jobs a little more help in their struggles to support themselves. While we cannot alleviate all poverty, we must do everything we can to alleviate the fact that too many full time workers are hungry, homeless, and without health care in our society.
Paying workers a decent wage is an issue that embodies our ideals of justice and ethical teachings. Each year, low-wage workers are left behind as the cost of living increases, executive salaries grow exponentially, and congressional pay raises are enacted. Currently, a full time minimum wage worker brings in under $11,000 a year, $5,000 below the poverty level for a family of three. In addition, 44 million Americans, many of whom work more than one minimum wage job, currently live without health insurance, and over 88 percent of minimum wage workers cannot afford a two bedroom apartment in the city in which they work.
The Jewish and Presbyterian communities have long advocated for the rights of fair pay and the sanctity of families. We have sought an end to child labor, sweatshops, the six-day work week, and occupational safety violations. Today, we continue our commitment to these values, by calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour and give America’s workers the pay increase they so rightfully deserve.