Throughout Scripture, God commands us to treat workers with respect, dignity, and fairness. Exploitation or underpayment of workers is incompatible with Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor—a love that extends to all persons in all places, including the workplace. The Old Testament and New Testament include explicit warnings to those who would withhold fair pay to workers. “How terrible for [him] . . . working his countrymen for nothing, refusing to give them their wages” (Jeremiah 22:13). “Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces” (James 5:4).
A century ago, the Methodist Episcopal Church, in adopting the first social creed, responded to this call for worker justice by proclaiming support for “a living wage in every industry” (1908 Social Creed). In the global community of the twenty-first century, the Church has no choice but to be concerned about and involved in issues of globalization including the impact of changing global economic structures on workers. A living wage in a safe and healthy workplace with reasonable hours of work is a universal right not restricted by national borders. Therefore, The United Methodist Church reaffirms its historic support for the living wage movement and calls upon businesses and governments to adopt policies to ensure employees are paid sufficient wages to afford shelter, food, clothing, health care, and other basic expenses, according to local costs of living. United Methodists will work in partnership with persons, communities, and governments everywhere around the world to bring about the creation of conditions that encompass fundamental workers’ rights, fair wages, a safe and healthy workplace, reasonable hours of work, decent living standards, support for community infrastructure, and commitment to community economic development.
In calling for a living wage in every industry, The United Methodist Church recognizes its own responsibility to model fair and faithful compensation. To this end, The United Methodist Church adopts the living wage as a model for justice in the world and in the household of faith, holding all levels of the church accountable to adjust compensation for all employees, including support staff, to effect the following:
• reflect the local cost of living;
• reduce disparity between top and bottom wage earners;
• provide for adequate health coverage for employees and their dependents;
• provide mechanisms for training, promotion, and advancement for all United Methodist employees at all levels; and
• ensure that fair and consistently applied personnel policies pertain to all employees of The United Methodist Church and its agencies.
REVISED AND READOPTED 2008, 2016
RESOLUTION #4101, 2008, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #217, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
RESOLUTION #210, 2000 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS
See Social Principles, ¶ 163B, C.
From The Book of Resolutions, 2016. (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House). Used by permission.