The Electrical Worker online
January 2014

From the Officers
index.html Home    print Print    email Email

Go to
Keepers of the Faith

Recent news reports have confirmed that on any given night, Pope Francis sneaks out of his humble lodgings at the Vatican, dons simple priest clothing and ministers to the homeless and poor of Rome.

You don't have to be a religious person to admire this simple act of charity and brotherhood. But if you are, I'm sure you'd agree that Francis' actions speak well to the idea of helping the economically disadvantaged — as have his recent comments condemning right-wing, trickle-down economic practices as "a new tyranny" grinding down countless families who are just trying to scrape by.

Sadly, when it comes to "the least of these," their numbers are ever growing, even as times have never been better for those in the upper ranks of the 1 percent. Last year, the 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. had more money than the bottom 150 million citizens put together. Economists like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Nobel-Prize-winning professor Joseph Stiglitz point out that this yawning gap between the few haves and the growing multitudes of have-nots is a critical drain on our economic recovery, as consumer spending has sputtered although the recent economic slump technically has ended.

The Pope isn't the only world figure to make this connection recently. Last month, President Obama channeled the pontiff in a speech calling economic inequality the "defining challenge of our time."

Such challenges invite action. Late last year, we saw countless low-wage workers walk off the job, demanding better pay, while others staged unprecedented protests at big-box retailers like Walmart. Families are in financial trouble, and they're raising their voices.

Both the Pope and the president have hit on what the labor movement has been saying for some time: A stronger middle class builds a stronger society. And runaway avarice by the privileged few will ultimately wreck things for the rest of us. You can't have a healthy economy when those near the bottom continue to merely limp along.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed."

This is indeed the fight of our time. Let's keep up pressure on corporations and political leaders to honor the efforts of working men and women — the fabric of what makes a great society.

Keep your heads up and hearts full in 2014. And keep the faith.


Also: Hill: Open Discussion, United Action Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer