Action Alert: Tell Congress to Advocate for Palestinian Children
The detention of Palestinian minors by Israel raises serious concerns about lack of due process and ill-treatment. These concerns serve as a call to action for those who feel a responsibility to care for the most weak and vulnerable members of society.
According to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, as of the end of March 2015, 184 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli custody. Furthermore, as B’Tselem notes, “the military law applied in the West Bank…denies them the protections accorded to minors under both international and Israeli law.” A 2013 UNICEF report states, “Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” While noting positive progress on some fronts, a UNICEF update this year states, “The data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”
Contact your Members of Congress today: Ask them to attend an important Congressional briefing to learn more about this issue and to advocate for ending the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in detention. Entitled, “International Juvenile Justice Reform: Children in Israeli Military Detention,” the briefing will take place Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 9:30 AM in the Capitol Visitors Center, Congressional Meeting Room North.
The briefing will discuss the legal and structural components of the military court system, and situate the detention of Palestinian children within the larger context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Opening remarks will be provided by Congressman Keith Ellison and featured speakers include Tariq Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American who will provide a firsthand account from a child’s perspective and examine the effects of detention.
Also: If you’re in the DC area, you are invited to attend an Interfaith Vigil on the occasion of the International Day for Protection of Children, Monday, June 1, at noon, at the Upper Senate Park, 200 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001. The vigil will highlight the issue of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.
General Assembly Policy
In 2014, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved the following policy:
1. Reaffirms the commitment of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to the human rights of all children, particularly the children of Palestine and Israel.
2. Reaffirms the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 202nd General Assembly (1990), and affirms its support for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement on children in armed conflict.
3. Calls upon the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate this call to members of the Senate and encourages the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PC(USA) to promote the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its advocacy with the United States Senate.
4. Directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to engage in advocacy and public witness for the human rights of children in Palestine and Israel in relation to
5. Directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to create information documents, study guides, or other educational materials using information, research, and statistics from the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel, United Nations agencies, including OCHA and UNICEF, and other human rights or nongovernmental organizations, such as B’Tselem, Defense for Children International Palestine, and Amnesty International to be made available through digital download at the PC(USA) website, as well as links to materials and research from other organizations.
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Friday, May 29, 2015
Prayers to End Hunger: May 29 - June 12
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Thursday, May 28, 2015
Action Alert: Raise the Wage!
Action Alert: Raise the Wage!|
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages …” (Jer. 22:13)
While the value of the minimum wage in 1968 is equivalent to $10.79 in 2015 dollars, the current federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, last increased by Congress in 2007 with the final increase taking effect in 2009. Contrary to popular rhetoric that this wage primarily impacts teenagers, eighty-eight percent of minimum-wage workers are over twenty years old; fifty-six percent of them are women.
Two weeks ago, Senator Patty Murray (WA) and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA) introduced the Raise the Wage Act (S.1150/H.R. 2150) to address this issue.
This legislation, if enacted, would
• Raise the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020, starting with an increase to $8.00 an hour in 2016
• Gradually eliminate the tipped-industry loophole, which has allowed employers of tipped workers to pay a subminimum wage of only $2.13 per hour to tipped staff since 1991; and
• Index the minimum wage to median income, so as to maintain its value to low-wage workers and provide stability and predictability for employers.
Why the Minimum Wage is Important
One of the most notable parts of this legislation is its elimination of the tipped wage, which has created a sub-class of minimum wage workers. Tipped workers are more than two times as likely as other workers to experience poverty. In no other industry are wages determined by customer satisfaction or mood. Furthermore, there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure employers close the gap for employees whose tips do not reach the $7.25/hour threshold (the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to make up the difference between their workers’ after-tip income and $7.25 per hour).  Seven states have already leveled the playing field for tipped workers. 
This Raise the Wage Act would impact 38 million workers, particularly benefiting women and people of color who disproportionately live in poverty. Thirty-two percent of women in the workforce would see their paychecks increase; thirty-seven percent of African American workers and forty percent of Hispanic workers would see a rise in their paychecks. Twenty-four percent of all U.S. children (18.7 million) have a parent who would get a raise.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have already raised their minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, recognizing the inadequacy of the federal minimum wage. Moreover, twenty cities have also risen to the challenge to raise the wage.
The time is now. Call on your Congressional members to act to #RaisetheWage.
Higher Minimum wage is Key to Ending Poverty
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) supports social safety net programs and tax credits that help to lift people out of poverty, but it has spoken out about the necessity of a living wage as a foundation for a healthy economy and society.
The 183rd General Assembly (1977) “….Reaffirm[ed] the actions of previous General Assemblies supporting the right of every employable person to a job, decent and safe working conditions, and a salary adequate to meet at least his or her basic needs.”
In 2006, the 217th General Assembly called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, saying that our society should have the “the goal of a wage level sufficient to lift full-time workers out of poverty.”
Even though $12 per hour is not a living wage for many workers, this legislation is a step in the right direction. Congress will no longer have to act to raise the wage. Instead, the minimum wage will increase yearly according to the “annual percentage increase in the median hourly wage of all employees as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Supporting Striking Federal Contract Workers
Currently, federal contract workers in Washington, D.C., earn the federal minimum wage, despite the city’s recent wage increase to $10 per hour, rising to $11.50 per hour in 2016. The Office of Public Witness Director J. Herbert Nelson, has joined with local workers to call on the federal government to set an example for businesses in its respect for workers’ rights and a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.
In recent years, Nelson has participated in several strikes with federal contract workers who have been organizing for a living wage of $15 an hour, protections against wage theft, reliable work schedules, and the protection of collective bargaining. President Obama has responded with Executive orders raising the wage on new contracts to $10.10 per hour and protecting workers against wage theft. The President still has the opportunity to issue executive orders giving contract preferences to employers to create good jobs and collectively bargain with their workforce.
Nelson spoke at a ‘Good Jobs Nation’ event on April 22, declaring, “But now I say – I want my tax dollars to create good jobs – with livable wages, benefits, paid sick days, safe workplaces, reliable schedules, and the right to bargain collectively for the good of the whole.”
Read his full remarks here
Action Alert: Support Debt Relief for Nepal!
Action Alert: Support Debt Relief for Nepal!|
Over the course of three weeks, two major earthquakes struck Nepal, taking over 8,000 lives and injuring countless others. Nepal is one of the most impoverished countries in the world today. Over 30 percent of Nepalese live on less than 14 US dollars per person, per month, and recent events have left many more vulnerable to the devastating effects of poverty.
Nepal is desperately in need of a recovery plan that will provide adequate shelter, food, water and healthcare for its citizens. Each day, however, the Nepalese government is responsible for paying nearly $600,000 in debt payments. More than ever, Nepal needs the ability to free up funds for the rebuilding and restoration of communities across the country. Sign a petition and tell the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel Nepal's debt.
In partnership with Jubilee (USA) and other faith-based organizations, the Office of Public Witness is calling on the IMF to use resources from Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to cancel debt Nepal owes over the next two years. Additionally, we are calling on the World Bank to cancel Nepal's debt. Together, we can be advocates our neighbors around the world who need a assistance.
The 208th Presbyterian General Assembly adopted the following principle around debt relief:
The repayment of debts and interest at the expense of the basics of life raises serious questions of justice. The burden of debts must be shared equitably in ways that reduce poverty, protect the environment, and avoid perverse incentives in the future (Minutes, 1996, p. 539).
The Assembly went on to specify policy options:
Our faith calls us to care for those in need - and our Nepalese brothers and sisters are worthy of this charge. Act today, and urge the World Bank and IMF to cancel Nepal's debt.
For more information on how you can further support Nepal, visit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance webpage here.
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ACTION ALERT: "We need Milk with Dignity!"
|ACTION ALERT: “We need Milk with Dignity!”
Vermont dairy workers declare June 20th as national Day of Action, launch petition in support of brand-new Milk with Dignity Campaign!Last week, we shared the exciting news — via an excellent article in the national hub for food movement news, Civil Eats — that Vermont dairy workers had created the Milk with Dignity Program and are calling on one of Vermont’s biggest milk buyers, Ben & Jerry’s, to support their worker-driven social responsibility plan. Drawing on the CIW’s groundbreaking Fair Food Program, Milk with Dignity offers a concrete, enforceable solution to the dangerous working conditions, wage theft, poor housing, and other abuses that Vermont dairy workers say have plagued the industry for decades.
When Migrant Justice, the dairy workers’ organization, first launched their new initiative, they thought that ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s — renowned for its socially responsible business agenda, commitment to seeking fair trade ingredients, and great love of the state of Vermont — would welcome the opportunity to partner with Mountain State farmworkers. However — much to the workers’ surprise — Ben & Jerry’s has thus far refused to join the Milk with Dignity Program and instead has chosen to pursue its own “Caring Dairy” initiative, which Migrant Justice representatives describe as a voluntary program that calls on farmers to self-monitor with no mechanisms for real worker participation in oversight or enforcement.
So dairy workers are turning to the people Ben & Jerry’s cannot afford to ignore — you, their customers! Migrant Justice is calling on anyone who enjoys the occasional cup of Half Baked ice cream or cone of Cherry Garcia to take action to support Vermont dairy workers’ human rights today...
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