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Let’s put labor back in Labor Day

Let’s focus on labor this Labor Day. Let’s not forget the heroism of American workers in the past, who by banding together won victories that we take for granted, such as the eight-hour workday, the 40-hour workweek, the end of child labor and salaries sufficient to support their families.  After declining for decades, the labor movement in the U.S. is growing at a pace not seen since the Great Depression.  For example, last December a single Starbucks store in Buffalo successfully voted in a union. Today, employees in more than 200 Starbucks stores nationwide have voted for unions.

A year ago, JusticeND, a coalition of concerned faculty and staff, began a university-wide discussion about the fairness of the wages being paid to hourly staff.  Noting that Notre Dame’s minimum wage fell far short of meeting the basic needs of families of living in South Bend, we called upon Notre Dame to follow Catholic Social Teaching, which demands that employers pay living wages.   Notre Dame students joined this dialogue by launching their own “Raise the Standard Campaign,” which pushed for raising student wages and widening participation in deliberations about salaries and working conditions.  

We were encouraged that, in July, Notre Dame announced salary increases, which raised the pay of faculty and staff by 3% and set a minimum wage of $15 per hour for work-study students and $17.50 per hour for all other hourly workers.  These increases are an important first step. But much more needs to be done. According to new research last year by the Notre Dame Center for Social Research, the new minimum wage for entry-level positions at Notre Dame does not provide a financially stable situation for most families.

Raising low wages benefits not just Notre Dame staff and faculty. It benefits the entire the South Bend community. Notre Dame is the largest employer in South Bend, a poor city with a median household income of only $42,657, which is far below the national average of $64,994 (these figures are 5-year averages from 2016 to 2020 in real (2020) dollars).  Black households in South Bend average only about half the income of white households. If Notre Dame is to be, recalling Fr. Sorin’s words, a “powerful force for good” in South Bend, we must take responsibility not only for the poverty in South Bend but for the policies that created and maintain the racial wealth gap. 

Notre Dame’s mission obliges us to cultivate in our students, “a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.”  We cannot teach the history of the labor movement and social encyclicals without taking responsibility for the justice of our own labor policies.  The progress that we made last year was the fruit of disciplined reflection and dialogue about our collective obligations to the most vulnerable members of our community. JusticeND calls upon all members of the Notre Dame community to press forward, particularly as the cost-of-living continues to rise.  Let’s take time on this Labor Day to ask ourselves what new strides we will look back upon on Labor Day 2023. 

Clark Power
John Duffy
Steve Fallon

Aug. 29

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A welcome from Notre Dame Right to Life

It’s the start of a new, beautiful fall semester here at Our Lady’s University, and Notre Dame Right to Life (NDRtL) wants to extend a warm welcome to students returning to campus and all new students who are joining the Notre Dame family this school year! We are so happy to have you here. 

We are so excited to begin this year’s line-up of amazing speakers, service opportunities, social events, dialogue, education and activism. This is, after all, the first year ever that NDRtL has existed in a world without Roe.

NDRtL is the largest non-academic student-run club on campus. Our mission is to promote a culture of life in the Notre Dame community through education, service and prayer. We believe that all life has value, from conception to natural death. Our programming seeks to serve students at Notre Dame by promoting and upholding the sanctity of all human life. 

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it is more important than ever for students to get involved in pro-life initiatives. We have waited 50 years for this first step in the fight against abortion. Yet this is only the first step. Building a culture of life means creating a society in which abortion is not only illegal, but also unthinkable. 

This means providing resources and aid to women in unplanned pregnancies, supporting candidates and legislation that stand for strong adoption and foster care reform bills, child support and mandatory maternity leave and finally, ensuring that each and every individual in our society knows and cherishes the unique, unrepeatable life and dignity of every human being from the moment of conception. 

As this year progresses, we will continue to reflect on the future of the pro-life movement and the state of our culture. We will not stop until every woman, child and family is treated with dignity and love in both the culture and the law. 

In addition to post-Roe initiatives, Right to Life holds many events throughout the semester which help to promote dialogue on life issues and bring awareness to the places in our society where the most vulnerable among us are forgotten. This year, we are excited to announce the inaugural Right to Life retreat, “Serve One Another Humbly With Love” (Galatians 5:13), which will be held on September 3, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

“Life Fest,” the annual kick-off event for Right to Life, a celebration of the joy of each and every life within the Notre Dame family, will be on September 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on South Quad. Any and all are welcome for burgers and hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, cotton candy, cookie decorating, games, tie dye and fellowship!

As a Catholic club, NDRtL chooses a yearly patron saint both to guide and strengthen the spiritual dimension of our club’s initiatives. For the 2022-2023 school year, NDRtL’s patron saint will be St. Joseph! St. Joseph is titled the “Pillar of Families,” “hope in difficulties,” “protector and patron of the unborn” and “patron of fathers.” We recognize that fatherhood is invaluable and essential to promoting a culture of life. In a post-Roe America, fathers will need to step up, and St. Joseph will be their guide. Further spirituality initiatives include monthly Right to Life Mass in the Basilica, all-night adoration and weekly Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the Grotto for the unborn. 

Furthermore, this year for service is going to be huge! We have so many moms and families to help and we cannot wait to get started. Our service initiatives range from baby showers for moms in the community, free weekly babysitting for parenting students and faculty, spending time with the elderly at Holy Cross Village, raising money for a mom who chose life that we’ve adopted through “Let Them Live,” volunteering at the Women’s Care Center or Hannah’s House and so much more! 

Our education branch seeks to serve the Notre Dame community by providing the platform for conversation and dialogue and to open the door to changing hearts and minds in the Notre Dame community. We have a lineup of some wonderful (and very famous!) speakers coming our way this fall that you won’t want to miss out on. Lastly, we are ecstatic to announce we are partnering with the Saint Joseph FertilityCare Center to host a series on Natural Family Planning and living a comprehensive pro-life ethic that combines science and faith. 

While some may argue otherwise, we want to emphasize: We are a non-partisan club. All are welcome to participate in dialogue and events with NDRtL, and we joyfully receive newcomers into the Right to Life family. We recognize the controversy of the pro-life identity and the difficult conversations that are being had on all life issues across our nation. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or would just like to chat, please stop by our office hours! We have an open door for any and all who would like to engage — visit our website for hours. 

We strive to root our work in prayer and set all of our hardships at the feet of Christ, in constant intercession with Our Beloved Lady, the Virgin Mary. We maintain that every individual is made in the image and likeness of God and as such should be treated with dignity and kindness in all circumstances. Mothers, fathers, children, the elderly, those in prison, the disabled and each and every one of you deserve the dignity and respect owed to a child of God. 

Whether you are already an active member of the club or you are just interested in seeing what RtL has to offer, we would be honored to work joyfully alongside you to promote a culture of life here at Our Lady’s university. We will be praying for each and every one of you. 

If you or someone you know is going through an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone! Notre Dame is committed to providing resources and helping students choose life. Contact Peggy at ND’s Family Resource Center (mhnatusk@nd.edu, 574-631-3000). Visit one of the several local Women’s Care Centers for free, confidential pregnancy resources (574-234-0363). Browse local resources via hermichiana.org, or contact NDRtL at prolife@nd.edu with any questions you may have! We are here to serve! Go Irish, Save Babies!

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

In Christ,

Merlot Fogarty

junior

president, Notre Dame Right to Life

Aug. 22

Editor’s note: A previous version of this letter to the editor used the terminology “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life” due to The Observer’s adherence to AP style. The wording was changed back as the letter represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. The Observer regrets this error.

Letter to the Editor

The views expressed in this letter are not necessarily those of The Observer.