"Houston Needs a Raise" was the theme of the Interfaith Program held June 26, in Tranquility Park in Downtown Houston. Ministers and people of faith from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions gathered to support the janitors who are attempting to negotiate a fair contract and other low wage workers through prayer and action. Archbishop Fiorenza gave the introductory address appealing "to all Houstonians to be in solidarity with Janitors as they struggled for a modest wage increase." He noted the importance and dignity of the work that they do as well as the fact that they clean the offices of great corporations and world renowned law firms.
Others who spoke noted the call for economic justice and fair wages that are prevalent in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as well as the Islamic text.
Prayers were offered calling on those who enjoy riches of this world to use their resources for the common good. Together will called upon business leaders to do their part by creating good jobs, raising wages and providing affordable health care for all working people.
It is bad enough that some workers are paid low wages, there are others who are victims of wage theft. Wage Theft, the non-payment or underpayment of wages, has been called a defining trend in low-wage industries in the 21st century. Throughout the country, localities have been responding to this issue with innovative community and policy initiatives. On June 28, the HIWJ Down with Wage Theft Campaign hosted a policy briefing for the staff of City Council members. The goal of the campaign is to have a "system within the city that is charged with processing and investigating wage theft cases efficiently and effectively." And would sanction guilty employers and protect workers against retaliation.