Justicia y Paz: Marching with CTUL to #ReclaimOurCity for the Rights of Workers

This morning I woke up at 4:30am, dressed (for the first time this year) in flannel jeans and long underwear, grabbed a mason jar of tea, and headed out into the chill morning air in the company of two of my housemates. Despite the cold and the early hour, we were bright-eyed and excited. Though we all work for non-profit organizations, it is sometimes hard to see what impact we are making. This morning, we were going to work for more palpable change; marching in solidarity with workers fighting for their rights.

Four St. Joseph Workers marched to Macy's in Downtown Minneapolis, joining students and workers.
Four St. Joseph Workers marched to Macy’s in Downtown Minneapolis, joining students and workers.

We were invited to the #ReclaimOurCity: March for Working Families through local organization CTUL. CTUL stands for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, “The Center of Workers United in Struggle.” Today, they joined in a movement spanning 270 cities across the country, in which fast food employees, retail workers, and retail cleaners are going on strike to protest their lack of a livable wage.

The march this morning was a diverse mix of students, workers, allies, and CTUL staff. Included also were representatives from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, raising the cry that “Black Workers matter”. At the start of the march, under the neon of McDonalds and SuperAmerica, we were blessed by the performance of three Aztec dancers. Call and response chants were shouted in English and Spanish. I’m surprised I have any voice left—I was so busy giving it in service to the protest, I didn’t care whether I got it back. The music that blasted from the back of the truck leading the protest was interspersed between stories from people who lived, daily, with the injustices we were fighting against.

Police lights turn the protesters blue as they pause to listen to the stories of fellow workers.
Police lights turn the protesters blue as they gather to listen to the stories of fellow workers.

Why is this important? Because today’s march was not—and is not—  about a group of people whining over low pay. This is about hundreds of people who work long and hard to provide us with little luxuries, fast food and clean stores, while they struggle with decisions of paying rent or feeding their families. This is about hundreds of people who sacrifice their health rather than miss a day of work— and the necessary paycheck that it brings. This is about the dignity of the human person, as described in Catholic Social Teaching and in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (check out number 8). Quite simply, it is about wrong…and rights.

God bless all those who were brave enough to stand up for those rights today; may your work truly bring justice.


Read more:

Local Fast Food Workers Join Nat’l Strike For Better Wages, Paid Sick Days

Joint Religioius Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill 2014

Once again the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are among the four Lead Sponsors for the JRLC Day on the Hill.  JRLC and the Sisters of St. Joseph have long collaborated on a variety of issues that affect the marginalized among us. Once again the Justice Office is hosting the Sisters of St. Joseph display table with information available representing a variety of departments, including a our Justice Commission 2014 Upcoming Events and websites bookmark which remains the number one take-away from our table.

Many also come to hear about how a sister is now doing, ask if we know a sister, and so on.  So here are a few of the JRLC Pearls so far this morning:

~~ I just wanted to stop by and congratulate the sisters on National Catholic Sisters Week

~~ How do you say that any way, is it Carondelet (let) or Carondelet (lay).  Will I ever remember it is Carondelet (let)?

~~ Will Sister Gina be here today?

~~I hope Sister John Christine will be here. ~~ I just had to stop and say that Sister Mary Heinen was from my district.  I can hardly believe she has passed.  She was such a knowledgeable and inspiring woman.  I especially miss her here today!

~~ Do you offer social justice retreats?

~~ Do you happen to now where Anika Walz is now?

~~ I don’t suppose you know Sister Althea? I know her from retreats and workshops we have shared.

~~ Did you ever know Sister Carmella who started the school patrol?  I am her nephew.

~~ Wisdom Ways is fabulous.  I have been attending their offerings for years.  Their retreats, events and offerings are always fabulous.

~~ I feel so hopeful after hearing about what you are doing on so many fronts.  I could go home right now and the day would be a success.

All this by the time I started writing this blog at 9:30!
As the morning continues…
~~ A woman just dashed up … grabbed the bookmark and enthusiastically said, “I JUST LOVE THE SISTERS!!”
~~I mentioned to a Rochester Franciscan how thrilled I am that they are hosting Rev. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C. Director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame in April. She said she was not signed up and asked if she should be. I suggested it would be very worth her while and important for the passage of immigration reform. She said “I will when I get back today!”
~~ “How is Sister Char Madigan? We traveled the state educating people on the reality of domestic violence. She was the Catholic and I was the Lutheran! Will you please greet her for me?”


Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Investing to Make a Difference

wim cri logo

Last night, Joänne Tromiczak-Neid, Justice Coordinator and I attended the 40th Anniversary of wim cri: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment at the Marquette University Alumni Memorial Union in Milwaukee.  While Joänne has been working with wim-cri for over 20 years, my role the past six years has been more peripheral.  I came knowing I had a lot to learn!

First of all the event was hosted by the Marquette University Center for Supply Chain Management.  I did some research before the event to ground me in their work.  As I read about the complexity of supply chains, I soon realized that my first exposure was in the late 1970s when the toy company I worked for sent raw materials, equipment and technical design patterns to a factory in Haiti where some of our products were being “assembled.”  Before I went on a quality control trip to this factory in Haiti, I was enthused by our work there.  Upon arrival, my perception changed immediately when I recognized that we were literally using the Haitian people (almost exclusively women) to further our needs by reducing our costs and therefore our prices, giving our products an edge in the marketplace. At that time we did not have the language of supply chain management, I only knew I did not like what we were doing!

In 1973 while the Vietnam War was being waged and a surge in the manufacture of nuclear weapons was underway, several Capuchin Friars from the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph in Milwaukee went to Washington D. C. seeking a more peaceful world.  While there they came to the realization that business and the economy were central to their quest.  The outcome of that trip was the formation of the Corporate Responsibility Action Group (CRAG), the precursor to wim-cri.   Founding members were:  Michael H. Crosby, OFM Cap, Charlita Foxhaven, SSSF and Alphonsa Puls, SSSF (School Sisters of St. Francis).  They set to the work of inviting other religious communities to join them in their quest and connected with the recently formed Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Saint Paul Province have been active leaders in wim-cri for over 20 years during which shareholder resolutions have been filed on tobacco, worker’s rights, health care, corporate transparency, affordable prescription medications and ongoing successful dialog with Xcel Energy. 

Founders Awards honoring their vision and commitment to mission were presented to Mike Crosby, OFM Cap, Clarita Foxhoven, SSSF and posthumously to Alphonsa Puls, SSSF.

Tim Dewane, Shalom – Justice, Peace, & Integrity of Creation, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province moderated a panel dialog that included Terry Nadeau, Global Vice President of Procurement, Johnson Controls, Inc.; Robin Jaffin, Director of Global Supply Programs Verité; Rev. David Schilling, Project Director, ICCR and Dr. Douglas Fisher, Director, Center for Supply Chain Management, Marquette University delving into the complexities of supply chain sustainability and sourcing responsibility.

Tim concluded with this reflection:

From A Reflection on the Vocation of the Business Leader (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)

Good business decisions are those rooted in principles at the foundational level, such as respect for human dignity and service to the common good, and a vision of a business as a community of persons. Principles on the practical level keep the business leader focused on:

  • producing goods and services that meet genuine human needs while taking responsibility for the social and environmental costs of production, of the supply chain and distribution chain (serving the common good, and watching for opportunities to serve the poor);
  • organizing productive and meaningful work recognizing the human dignity of employees and their right and duty to flourish in their work, (“work is for man” rather than “man for work”) and structuring workplaces with subsidiarity that designs, equips and trusts employees to do their best work; and
  • using resources wisely to create both profit and well-being, to produce sustainable wealth and to distribute it justly (a just wage for employees, just prices for customers and suppliers, just taxes for the community, and just returns for owners).

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Lead Sponsors: JRLC Day on the Hill

“Change Begins With Us!”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are again “Lead Sponsors” of the JRLC (Joint Religious Legislative Coalition) Day on the Hill.  It is a powerful and potent day of  “interfaith advocacy for social justice” that again includes over 800 representatives of all 67 Minnesota Legislative Districts.

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America is presenting the keynote speech after which we will hear from Patrice Critchley-Menor, Diocese of Duluth regarding “Building our Coalitions.”

The issue briefings this year are: 

Family Economic Security Act          Human Trafficking

Budget Priorities and Taxes              Homes for All       Impartial Judiciary

At 11:45 the 2013 Lawrence D. Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award will be presented to Governor Albert H. Quie and the 2013 Interfaith Social Justice Organization Award will be presented to Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, Minneapolis

This afternoon affords participants the opportunity to meet with their legislators to bring the 2013 issues of the JRLC to their attention, encourage their support and leadership.

Part of being at the JRLC Day on the Hill is the opportunity to network with others, to connect with colleagues, hear from powerful leaders and get energized to continue to work of “collecting the power for mission (CSJ Acts of Chapter 2001).”

Our CSJ Table provided people with a bookmark highlighting our March events, including Breaking the Impasse IV with Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby and Nan Madden, Director, Minnesota Budget Project; 11th Day Prayer for Peace, March 11 “International Women’s Day” which is being planned with St. Catherine University Multi-Cultural and International Programs, Campus Ministry and the Women’s Center; and a list of CSJ ministries with websites.  In addition, CSJ offered gifts of “Hooked by the Spirit,” the life story of Rita Steinhagen, CSJ and “In Search of the Divine: Immigration” (ISD) to visitors our table.

Having immigration as the topic of the newest ISD providing voice to three people who migrated to the United States and are now citizens, is powerful with Immigration Reform having more support than anytime since 1986.  The DVDs are now in the hands of high school students, high school teachers, parish leaders, the Minnesota Council of Churches and United Theological Seminary to name but a few. 

JRLC Day on the Hill is another example of the great non-partisan work that is critical to a healthy democracy.

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is an annual event bringing together Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, civic leaders, and scholars together with students and other citizens in an effort to engage peacemaking efforts around the world. The 2012 Forum used a variety of mediums and topics, ranging from “The Ethics of Hip Hop” to an address by Nobel Laureate F.W. de Klerk.
I attended the “Business Day” of the forum at the beginning of this month and was pleasantly surprised by the continual emphasis on the need for the private sector to be involved if peace can prevail on earth. The day was filled with a variety of interests from the private sector epresenting the large field it is– renewable energy, microenterprise and entrepreneurs, agriculture and food industry, chambers of commerce, economics, etc.
I greatly appreciated all the presentations I attended throughout the day, but the final keynote speaker was astonishing. Saki Macozoma served time on Robben Island during Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and was a business leader throughout the ending of apartheid. He spoke of the South African private sector’s collective involvement that kept the debating factions at the table during the ending of apartheid, and the business community’s involvement presently to help decrease unemployment. The key to his presentation was that the South African business community recognizes the benefits from social reform and high quality of life. This is a revolutionary concept. If the worldwide business community supported and understood this we could have a radically different world–one where corporate power could be a term of social change, not greed and corruption.
May peacemaking prevail on earth, and may all of us play a role,
Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern
For a schedule of the Business Day click here.
Please click here for the video archive of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Imagining a Just Economy

Last Wednesday night, the Eliminating Poverty Task Group hosted “Imagining a Just Economy” facilitated by Carol Gariano, CSJ Consociate and Terin Mayer from TakeAction Minnesota.

The event was a success! It was a wonderful collaboration between two organizations, and an exploration into the possibilities of our world. The two hour agenda was full of engaging activities, I found two to be most valuable.

We were given a timeline of past economic policies and recognized different policies that have impacted us. As Terin reminded us several times, the economy is not like the weather–we, as a society, shape and affect our economic future.

The second activity was the actual imagining of a new economy–a just economy. We first discussed our envisioned purpose of the economy: to foster success, for all to recieve bread and roses, to emphasize economic & societal relationships, to name a few.

Next we discussed what needs to change for the proposed economy to exist. We walked through different aspects of society – government, work, banks…we could have gone all night through the different areas. We had both tangible ideas (ending corporate personhood; adjusting current political campaign system; creating a liveable wage; etc) and ideas that truly rock the boat (ending individualism; changing the definition of success; etc).

I left feeling hopeful while skeptical of how immense some of our ideas were. I also felt liberated in the ability to have this conversation and the recognition of our knowledge and power in the situation.

I was pleasantly surprised while reading the newspaper this past Sunday. A few of our proposed changes are already being tried and tested by individuals. There is hope for our society, and a great need for continued imagining.

Star Tribune articles regarding just economic strategies:

“Serving those with Smaller Nest Eggs”

Interested in continued work on creating a just economy and world? Check out the current events from the Justice Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern