Illinois’ minimum wage workers

Wednesday we hosted a news conference at St. Pius V to draw attention to the need for better wages for Illinois workers. Governor Quinn was with us, and he called for a new minimum wage of $10.00. Currently a full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois makes around $16,600 annually, which is below the Federal Poverty Threshold of $17,916 for a family of three.

Along with Pope Francis, I’d like to ask how we can allow this to be. Last July the Holy Father visited an Italian island where immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, all sin papeles (without papers) were seeking refuge. He said Mass there, and he preached these words:

“We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – ‘suffering with’ others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! …Let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this. ‘Has any one wept?’ Today has anyone wept in our world?

The same question needs to be asked about Illinois workers: Who of us is weeping over their suffering?

“No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty,” Governor Quinn said. “This holiday season, it’s important to remember the hundreds of thousands of people across Illinois who are working full time but still trapped in poverty. As multiple studies have shown, this common-sense proposal is good for workers and the economy.”

Can you take a moment out of your busy Christmas preparations and ask your Illinois legislator to support at $10.00 minimum wage in Illinois? That would be a great present for those who make minimum wage and for all of us in Illinois. Thank you!

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