Prayers Today on Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Day

A few weeks ago, The News & Observer published an article entitled “Many NC workers’ death go uncounted,” describing how often workplace deaths in North Carolina are uninvestigated, undocumented, and unreported. The article details the ways that the NC Department of Labor reports workplace fatalities and how a large number of deaths are not counted in the numbers that are reported. Many of these workplace deaths are related to the North Carolina economy’s ties to an agricultural system that demands physically difficult and often dangerous work. For example, the article…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause

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The Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar – its top-profile public event of the year – is meant to inform, and it’s meant to inspire. We’re not too bashful to say that this year’s version, held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, succeeded on both counts. With the General Assembly moving into the heart of its biennial “long session” – and with conservative legislators seemingly bent on deepening many of the ill-advised holes they’ve been digging for themselves and the state – the seminar focused on a…

Advocate for Family-Sustaining Living Wages and the Right to Organize

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According to Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), “four million fast food workers across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many workers are standing up for $15 per hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.” Other low-wage workers, such as home health care workers, are now joining this struggle. After enduring bad weather in recent weeks – snow, ice, treacherous driving conditions, schools out at a moment’s notice, and lengthy power outages for many – I have been thinking about low wage workers. They  get no paid…

Coming to the Seminar? Bring a Friend!

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The Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar is about a month away, and we have an exciting program of preachers, workshops, and presenters planned. If you’ve already registered to be with us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 14. If you haven’t registered, please do so by April 7 in order to guarantee lunch. Either way, we hope you’ll help us get the word out to other progressive people of faith. You can find a color flyer here or a program and registration form here to print…

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

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Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. Please scroll through the registration section for a full list of topics and presenters. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith…

Showing Love to Workers this Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day marks one of the biggest shopping days of the year, especially when it comes to chocolate and flowers. But did you know that often your tokens of affection are supporting pesticides, child slavery and farmworker exploitation? The Bible calls for us not only to love our neighbor, but also to show concern for the vulnerable and neglected. Learn more about the products you are buying and what you can do to show your love of neighbor and care for creation by supporting fair labor practices this February 14th….

Two Former NCCC Presidents Among Faith Leaders Meeting with US Labor Secretary

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On September 16, two former NC Council of Churches President were among a select group of 13 religious leaders who met with US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss how faith groups and the administration can work together to protect workers and provide greater economic opportunity for all. Stan Kimer, the Council’s Immediate Past President, represented the NCCC, and the Rev. Sékinah Hamlin, Council President from 2007-2009, was there on behalf of her current organization, the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative.  Read Stan’s recently published blog for details and photos.

Observing the Labor Sabbath This Weekend

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As Labor Day weekend quickly approaches, many people are thinking about beaches and barbeques. Amy Laura Hall, however, wants people to be thinking about something different: labor unions. Hall, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is calling for congregations to observe a Labor Sabbath this Friday, Saturday or Sunday prior to Labor Day, during which time the words “labor union” are to be mentioned in a sermon, song or prayer. The effort stems from a similar endeavor by Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, which invited clergy to speak about unions from the pulpit….

Workers and Justice — A Call to All People of Faith

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“There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American whether he [or she] is a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Day Sunday this year is August 31 — a day to remember all who labor with special thoughts for those who labor for less than living wages. These include fast food workers, farmworkers, hotel industry workers, caregiving workers in homes, hospitals, and nursing homes, associates  and clerks in our stores,…

The Ag Act: Congress Considers Turning Back the Clock to the Bracero Program

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Somewhat lost this summer amidst all the conversation about comprehensive immigration reform is a little-known bill called the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (or “Ag Act,” HB 1773) that has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. This harmful bill is a thinly veiled attempt to strip farmworkers of the few rights they have on the job while propping up agribusinesses’ bottom line.

The Liberal Protest that Would Shock the Right: Moral Monday

Photo by Michael Burns

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Every week prayers and gospel songs infuse the air and participants offer blessings to the latest batch of 100 or so activists entering the Raleigh General Assembly building to commit civil disobedience. If you’re not from here, it may all seem a little counter-intuitive: A movement for inclusive and just secular governance that is deeply inflected with Christian ethics and arguments.

The Nation is Watching NC and Moral Mondays

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The impact of Moral Mondays continues to extend beyond North Carolina. Two recent articles and an editorial in “The New York Times” are reaching a national audience. One of the articles is by Peter Carman, pastor of Binkley Baptist Church, a Council member congregation. Alliance of Baptists: ‘Not One Step Back': Moral Mondays in Raleigh, N.C. Sojourners: Moral Mondays The New York Times: The Decline of North Carolina Moral Mondays are scheduled to continue on July 15. –Aleta Payne, Development and Communicaitons

Moral Mondays Reverberate Across the Country

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I finally had the chance to go my first Moral Monday earlier this week. Walking around Halifax Mall with our Executive Director, George Reed, I was struck by how many people we both knew. I’m deeply proud of the involvement by clergy and faith communities in particular. So many of our members are represented not only in the crowd but also in the faces of those participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we give thanks not only for the many freedoms our country offers, but in particular for the countless faithful voices speaking up and speaking out for those who are being pushed to the margins by this General Assembly.

Farmworkers Address Reynolds American: Do More to Protect Workers

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Last week, members of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) joined allies and activists from across the state in protesting Reynolds American Inc.’s treatment of farmworkers. Last year, Reynolds earned $1.3 billion in profits, but the company has hesitated to take proactive steps in guaranteeing good housing and fair pay to the workers at the very heart of its supply chain. Here at the NC Council of Churches, we have long supported farmworkers’ rights to living wages and dignity on the job. No one should have to work in slave-like conditions to provide for their family. Corporations should take responsibility for their supply chains, and the people whose labor makes possible their profits.

Gene Nichol: It’s Better Not to Be Poor in North Carolina

Gene Nichol (L) receives the Faith Active in Public Life Award from Rev. George Reed

Speaking to 200 social justice advocates, Gene Nichol delivered a powerful luncheon address at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar held April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh. He received the Council’s Faith Active in Public Life Award at the Seminar for his “courageous, dedicated, humane and compassionate witness in the political arena.” Rev. George Reed, the Council’s Executive Director, introduced Nichol by saying in part, “To know Gene is to see the embodiment of Catholic social teaching about social justice and the common good.”