Dignity of Work

Farm Workers

In work, thanks to the light that penetrates us from the Resurrection of Christ, we always find a glimmer of new life, of the new good, as if it were an announcement of “the new heavens and the new earth” in which man and the world participate precisely through the toil that goes with work.

Background

Food can remain safe and affordable without sacrificing the incomes, health, or lives of farmers and farm workers. Catholic social teaching insists that all workers deserve wages and benefits sufficient to support a family and live a decent life. Farmers must be able to support themselves and their families through their work and to provide for important needs such as health care and retirement. Farmers and their employees receive less and less of every dollar spent on food. This is a matter of justice that should be addressed. Agricultural policies must take into consideration the risks associated with farming that are beyond a farmer’s control, such as weather and changes in global markets. Trade policies should better reflect the right to economic opportunity of all farmers wherever they may live. Agricultural policies should help ensure basic income security and provide opportunities for economic initiative for farmers in the United States and throughout the world, with special attention to small producers. (USCCB, Pastoral Reflections on Food, Farmers, and Farmworkers)

Action

Contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to give priority to:

  • Owners of small or medium farms struggling to feed their families.
  • Rural communities struggling to maintain their values and quality of life.
  • Farmers and ranchers practicing responsible stewardship of their land and common waterways.
  • Women and children who need adequate nutrition.
  • Fully funding the Conservation Security Program, the, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and the Value-Added Producer Grants Program.
  • Contact fast food and restaurant chains to express your concern over workers’ conditions.
Resources

 

Living Wage

“The first line of attack against poverty must be to build and sustain a healthy economy that provides employment opportunities at just wages for all adults who are able to work.” USCCB
Background

A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. “Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.” Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages. (CCC, 2434)

Action
  • Support businesses that pay their employees a just wage.
  • Talk to your legislative representatives about poverty issues
Resources

USCCB/Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD): Poverty America

 

Repeated Social Teaching

“The economy must serve people, not vice versa. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.”  USCCB – Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship Part I