Column: Faiths Work Together for Memphis Living Wage Ordinance

September 27, 2003

Source: The Commercial Appeal (TN),1426,MCA_4076_2300955,00.html

On September 27, 2003, religion columnist David Waters of Memphis's The Commercial Appeal wrote about an interfaith effort to establish a "living wage" ordinance in Memphis. He writes, "Thirty-five years ago here in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other religious leaders teamed up with labor leaders to help local sanitation workers earn a living wage...Local governments across the country are paying attention. More than 100 communities from Baltimore to Los Angeles have passed living wage ordinances. Generally, such ordinances require local governments and their contractors to pay full-time wages above the federal poverty level - now about $18,400 a year for a family of four...More than half the working people in Tennessee earn wages below the federal poverty line. [Rev. Rebekah Jordan, executive director of the Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice,] and other people of faith are working to change that. Last week, the Memphis Living Wage Coalition, which includes congregations and unions, announced that 21 of 35 City Council candidates support a local living wage ordinance. 'Our governments have a responsibility to God and to the community to pay workers a just, livable wage for the work they do,' said Earline Duncan, a member of Church Women United, also involved in the coalition."