Today some thirty million American workers displaced from their jobs by the pandemic have lost their lifelines, because the supplemental unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act have expired and most have lost their employer-paid health care. Millions of other workers in hospitals and nursing homes, supermarkets and meatpacking plants, buses and metro trains – to name a few – continue to work while exposed to infection, but OSHA has failed to issue a workplace standard protecting them. The U.S. Senate has before it legislative proposals that would help both groups, but has refused to act, citing fears that the unemployment benefits will discourage workers from returning to low-wage jobs.
This is a matter of life and death for tens of millions of workers, and we who worship a God who cares for “the least of these brothers and sisters” cannot stand by.
Next Tuesday, Aug. 11, will see a national day of action calling on legislators to act on these critical needs. The Catholic Labor Network invites our members to join in this effort with a day of prayer and fasting. The fast, a spiritual discipline from our tradition, will never be more appropriate than in a time when millions face hunger due to extended pandemic unemployment – these men and women are abstaining from work to protect us all from a deadly coronavirus. Let us too come together in a day of prayer, a prayer calling on legislators to remember their obligations to our nation’s working people in need and act quickly to provide economic security for the displaced and workplace safety for those exposed on the job.
We also invite you to join us for a 30-minute Virtual Prayer Service at 3pm ET. We will come together to pray for the welfare of these workers and for wisdom and compassion from our elected representatives.