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How To Be an Economic Justice Church


Following is a checklist of ways in which your congregation can help to use its economic resources justly. Be sure to review UUA guidelines on compensation and employee management, investments and banking, and contracting and purchasing. For further ideas on congregation programs see also: UUs for a Just Economic Community ¨ 110 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116 ¨ 617-542-0634 ¨ www.uujec.net

I. Hiring & Compensating Employees

  • Pay just compensation for professionals (call your District Compensation Consultant).
  • Have an open process for hiring other staff.
  • Strive for racial, ethnic and gender balance; don't discriminate on the basis of those, sexual preference, or physical disability.
  • Pay a living wage, and at least the prevailing wage for the position.
  • Provide benefits for staff comparable to clergy (health insurance, vacation, pension).

II. Treatment of Employees

  • Consider Cost of Living Adjustments and Merit Raises at annual review.
  • If you can't afford higher wages, consider offering work-hours flexibility, additional vacation days, personal days, etc.
    " Set policies and procedures for regular evaluations and for due process for complaints, overtime and other issues.
  • Offer maternity and paternity leave.
  • Set policy regarding medical leave

III. Investments & Banking

  • Invest in socially responsible funds ("socially screened investments").
  • Bank at an institution that complies with the Community Re-Investment Act, and that supports civil and community projects.
  • Support a committee to review investments for appropriateness to the congregation's mission.

IV. Contracting and Purchasing

  • Develop open contracting and purchasing procedures, and advertise widely for bids.
  • Develop policies to direct some of your contracting and purchasing to minority and women owned venders or contractors.
  • Contract with companies which follow the same guidelines as above in their hiring, compensation, and treatment of employees

V. Membership/ Fundraising

  • Avoid practices that cause poor people to feel singled out or shamed
  • Eschew special favors for big donors, like exclusive parties.
  • Have membership requirements that are not exclusively dependent on dollar amounts given, but include donations of time, skills, or other intangibles.

VI. Programs - examples

  • Serve Fair Trade coffee at coffee hour; consider selling packages of it as a fundraising tool. At holiday bazaars, sell items from 10,000 Villages.
  • Urge your Social Justice committee to take on economic justice issues.
  • Work in coalition to make change in economic justice policy at the local or regional level, such as working for passage of a Living Wage law.
  • Host an annual "Worker's Day" service (see National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice).

Here are some connections to UUA Guidelines referred to in the document: A search of www.uua.org for "Compensation Guidelines" leads to:

"To Sustain the Living Tradition" UUA Board report, 1995, is mentioned in this publication - supposedly a summary of this report is available somewhere on the site - the closest thing I found to it was the following: Fair Compensation Guidelines for Congregations: http://www.uua.org/programs/ministry/finances/compglines.html
If people want to do their own searching, the Office of Church Staff Finances is a good place to start:
In addition to these pointers, folks should contact their District Compensation Consultant: http://www.uua.org/programs/ministry/finances/comproster.html

Chicago area Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice,
1448 E. 52nd St., P.M. Box 144, Chicago, IL 60615,
Task Force on Economic Justice