When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.
What lessons did you learn from the last 18 months of pandemic quarantine and caution? Personally, I learned that I miss hugs more than I ever would have thought, that there is virtually no way to avoid fogging glasses when wearing a mask, and that hand sanitizer dries my skin out!
But perhaps the most important lesson learned by me, and all the other Dominican Sisters of Peace, is the true value of our Congregation’s “essential” workers – the maintenance teams that keep our motherhouses and convents clean and safe, the cooks and servers who create and offer us delicious meals, the nurses in our care centers, the IT staff that has kept us connected virtually when we could not meet in person. As many of our Sisters were in tight quarantine, our essential staff became not just friends, but family – our links to the outside world and to everything that we needed to remain healthy and as happy as possible.
At the time of the COVID outbreak, our Sisters were already discerning a new compensation structure for our essential associates. While we have always paid what we believe to be a fair wage and offered good benefits, #Fightfor15 and other social justice movements had brought the plight of the working poor into sharper focus. As we served the working poor in our ministries around the nation, we knew that we had to ensure that we were not perpetuating the problem ourselves.
Then the COVID 19 shutdowns began. Our office workers could work from home and connected virtually. But the teams that maintain our motherhouses, keep the furnaces running, care for our ill and aged sisters and prepare our food – their work was in the house, and that is where they stayed.
From day one, our essential workers made our Sisters their top priority. Masks went on immediately. Personal activities that could have brought sickness into our facilities were voluntarily curtailed. When Sisters were confined to their rooms to prevent any possible community spread, our kitchen staff, always wonderful, went above and beyond to create delicious meals to lift our spirits – and then to deliver them to our doors. Our activity directors went into overdrive, not just creating ways to keep Sisters from going stir crazy, but also running personal errands so that every Sister had what they might need, from yarn for a project to ice cream for a birthday.
We are honored to announce a new minimum wage for our essential workers. At a time when many non-profit workers (as well as many who work for public companies) struggle to make ends meet, we have increased our minimum wage to $15 an hour.
We also offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to our entire staff in Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, Louisiana, and Connecticut for their dedication to our mission of peace, and to our friends and supporters for your prayers and gifts.