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UCC justice advocates challenge Walmart again

UCC justice advocates turned out Friday morning, Nov. 27, in Federal Way to support Walmart low-wage workers.

Display depicts amount of food an executive at Walmart can buy on his salary and the amount a worker can buy. Photos courtesy of Steve Clagett

“There were 15 of us from All Pilgrims, Everett, Normandy Park, Northshore, Plymouth and Prospect UCC churches, along with Michael Ramos, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle,” said Steve Clagett of the PNC Justice and Witness Ministries Committee who helped organize the event.

Two graduates of the UCC Justice Leadership Program were among those gathered.

The group helped bag $5,225 worth of food to put on display and distribute to Walmart low-wage workers.

“That amount of food represented the Walmart CEO’s daily food ration in contrast to a meager display of the $4.95 of food the average Walmart worker can afford daily,” Steve said.

“We sent word out to the workers that they could pick up a bag of food.  The managers took names of those who went out for food.  One was fired for taking food based on the assumption that taking food was participating in the protest,” Steve said.

Fifteen UCC justice advocates challenge Walmart and call people to care for the poor.

The next week, several went back with a petition signed by 5,000 people asking Walmart to reinstate Mary Watkins, who said the company retaliated against her after she spoke out for a wage increase, he said.

The manager would not take the petition, which they eventually dropped on the floor of the manager’s office.

Several of the group and one other UCC person took part in a Black Lives Matter rally later in the day in downtown Seattle where they again unfurled the UCC justice banner.

Steve is promoting an initiative that would increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 per hour, higher where local ordinances require it, and would mandate sick, family and safe leave for employees.  The initiative was filed in January and is going through a vetting process.  Petitions should be available in mid-February.

“To be safe, about 325,000 signatures will be needed by the end of June for it to be in the November ballot,” he said.

While neither a $13.50/hour or $15/hour wage is a livable wage for most families, Steve said the initiative would be “a huge step forward for Washington families” and it will benefit from attention by national candidates to our growing income inequality and the diminishing middle class.”

The initiative is supported by a coalition of more than 30 organizations with Working Washington, one of the leaders—

The Justice and Witness Ministries Committee will provide details on how members of PNC churches can become involved in the campaign.

For information, call 206-795-9475 or email


Keystone opens building for UCC churches
to discuss collaborating on economic justice

Keystone Congregational UCC recently opened its building for members of UCC congregations to meet and discuss how they might better work together for economic justice.  This is an outgrowth of an ad hoc Seattle area UCC group that has worked two years on living wage and economic inequality.

The meeting was also to decide if the group might want to form a ministry network under the conference.

“Such networks provide a means to raise a stronger and more persistent voice for the systemic changes we need, said Steve Clagett of All Pilgrims UCC.  “Washington State ranks last on tax regressivity in the extent to which our tax system falls on the backs of the poorest.”

The Justice and Witness Ministry Committee seeks names of contact people in the UCC congregations, people who are interested in social justice and advocacy. 

For information, call 206-795-9475 or email


Copyright © February 2016 - Pacific Northwest Conference News


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