Tag Archives: social justice

Bending Toward Justice – 40 Years of Influence

Presentation by Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director

Mark your calendar for this special presentation by Joe Micon, executive director of Lafayette Urban Ministry, on Thursday, November 14 at Noon at the LUM Ray Ewry Center (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN).

Bring your own lunch and join us as Joe Micon reflects on the impact LUM has had, over the decades, working toward social justice and advocacy on behalf of families.

The presentation is entitled, Bending Toward Justice; LUM’s Forty Years of Influence in the Public Square

Save the date.

Bending Toward Justice – 40 Years of Influence

Presentation by Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director

Mark your calendar for this special presentation by Joe Micon, executive director of Lafayette Urban Ministry, on Thursday, November 14 at Noon at the LUM Ray Ewry Center (525 N 4th Street, Lafayette, IN). Micon will reflect on the impact LUM has had, over the decades, working toward social justice and advocacy on behalf of families.

The presentation is entitled, Bending Toward Justice; LUM’s Forty Years of Influence in the Public Square. Stay tuned for more details and save the date.

Indiana Minimum Wage Update

As you know raising the minimum wage is a priority for Campaign for Hoosier Families. While the minimum wage bills introduced in this current session did not move through the Indiana General Assembly this year, we encourage you during the off session to let your State Representative and State Senator know that you support raising the Indiana minimum wage as well overall income equality so that they may be persuaded to address it next year.

To find your legislators, click HERE.

Minimum Wage in Indiana

Set the Standard – Don’t Just Comply

By Rob Krasa, LUM intern

As discussed in our previous newsletter, the effects of income inequality are felt just as hard here in Indiana as they are across the country.  One big step to take to help close this income gap would consist of a raise in our minimum wage. While opinions regarding such an increase are certainly mixed, the results of such increases across the country have been largely positive, and have not had the sweeping negative impact on local businesses and economies that some may fear.  The history of the minimum wage here in Indiana reveals that a significant increase is long overdue, and studies done regarding numerous increases across the country show that workforce numbers and employment rates would not take the hit that one may expect. In short, it is time for Indiana to buck the past trends, raise the minimum wage, and take a major step toward fighting back against the inequality in income that affects our communities. 

It is important to note that fighting to raise the minimum wage on a state or even local level is a much more approachable method than doing so on a national level.  Although the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) entitles workers nationally to a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, those working in states which have established a higher minimum wage – as 19 states plus the District of Columbia have done – are entitled to the higher state-based minimum wage.  Though it is the true that many of these places have done so in response to a higher general cost of living, that is not necessarily the case.  Three of the four states which border Indiana – Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois – all have established a minimum wage higher than the federal standard, and a vast majority of communities in those states carry a similar cost of living as Hoosiers experience.  Being that state standards which surpass federal standards are recognized as the default when it comes to labor practices, fighting for the increase here at home where it means the most to us is the logical step to take. 

Additionally, it has come time to change course in relation to Indiana’s history in terms of setting a fair minimum wage.  The minimum wage here in Indiana actually lagged behind the federal minimum all the way until 2000, when at that time the statewide minimum was raised to match the then-federal minimum of $5.15 an hour.  From that point on, the statewide minimum has matched the federal minimum as it has increased to $7.25 an hour, with the last increase having come in 2009.  This, all while income inequality has steadily increased since the recession in 2008, and while those same three neighboring states previously mentioned have passed a collective total of sixteen increases to their minimum wage to remain consistently ahead of the national standard during that same timeframe.  Our neighbors have seen the value and importance of staying ahead of the curve when it comes to staging the fight against income equality, and it’s come time for Hoosiers to join the fight as well. 

It would also be remiss to forget that the $7.25 an hour which was settled upon as the federal (and accordingly state) minimum in 2009 doesn’t even carry the same meager value that it did just that short decade ago.  When accounting for inflation, an item costing $7.25 in 2009 would cost $8.52 today, a cumulative rate of in inflation of 17.5%.  Another way to look at this inflation which has gone unaccounted for: even a full one-dollar increase in the minimum wage would not give a worker making minimum wage the same ability to make ends meet as they had ten years ago.  While some may make the argument that “people just need to go get better jobs,” it is the same income inequality and disparity in educational and skill-building opportunities that this inadequate minimum wage perpetuates that acts as the main set of barriers to these workers doing exactly that.  Without a change in policy, people working at these wages to make ends meet will never have a fair opportunity to improve their situation. 

It is clear that a raise in minimum wage is long overdue, especially here in Indiana.  The all-too-common argument in opposition to such an increase – that raising minimum wage would harm local economies and business owners – is not necessarily the result we would experience by doing so.  A collection of 10 U.S. cities, seven states, and many smaller communities are in the process of raising their minimum wage to between $12-$15 per hour. Studies and reports of the effects of these increases are showing no detrimental effect on the labor market – meaning employers are still thriving and able to maintain and pay staff through the increases – and that real earnings for workers are, of course, significantly increasing.  This has led to less turnover, higher employee productivity, and in turn, an overall reduction in expenses for employers.  To broaden the view, another study took into account 137 different state-level minimum wage increases since 1979 and found similarly that workforce numbers and employment rates remained constant and were effective in increasing meaningful earnings for the affected employees. 

Fighting income inequality is up to us here and now.  It is not a far away problem experienced by others, it is something we all feel the effects of every day here in our community and across the state and country.  Raising our minimum wage is a meaningful, achievable, and effective means of contributing to this fight. It’s time for Indiana to set the standard, not begrudgingly comply to dated and ineffective policy, and become an example of what it means to do what is right. 

  1. United States Department of Labor, https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/elg/minwage.htm#Relation
  2. United States Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm#stateDetails
  3. United States Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/stateMinWageHis.htm

Too Much is Apparently Not Enough

Growing Income Inequality in Indiana and Across the Country

By Joe Micon, LUM executive director & Rob Krasa, LUM I\intern

The gap between the 1% and the rest of the country continues to grow.  While our state falls somewhat behind the pace of the country as a whole in terms of the ever-growing increase in income inequality, the average income of Indiana’s top 1% is still more than seventeen times that of the average income of the entire remaining 99%.  In addition, in comparison to the rest of the states over the last decade, Indiana has seen some of the highest growth in income inequality when comparing the wealthiest 20% to the rest of the population.  Indiana’s middle class has seen the 5th largest decline in their share of total income across the state during that time period as well, coinciding with a recent loss of nearly 5% of the state’s manufacturing jobs – one of the largest such declines across the country.  Hoosiers who experience the far less prosperous end of these discrepancies face steep barriers to resources and opportunities readily available to those with a stronger financial foothold, including adequate health care, educational opportunities, easy access to basic needs, and stable places to call home.  Educating ourselves and each other about income equality at home and across the country – this being the first in a series of articles on issues surrounding wages and income – is the first step toward making substantive changes that can really make a difference.

Relevant policy change on local, state, and federal levels alike becomes more and more difficult to achieve for those who would benefit from it the most.  Money talks, and more often than not, politicians listen. The few and wealthy are far more able to make their voices heard in the political arena on account of the power and influence represented by their financial capital than the vast majority who do not hold such wealth.  Couple this with the fact that a disproportionate amount of non-voters fall into a family income range below $30,000 annually, and the result is often a disadvantaged, underrepresented, and disenfranchised majority who are caught between a rock and a hard place by policies supported by the wealthy minority.  

When income inequality grows, opportunities and resources for those on the lower end of the income spectrum tend to become more sparse.  Health care and nutrition are a glaring example.  Not only do those making lower incomes face barriers accessing and paying for proper health care coverage and services, but nutritional challenges contribute to these health care problems as well.  Due to much less freedom and flexibility in choosing where they live, over 16% of Hoosiers live in areas known as food deserts – parts of cities and rural areas where there is no easy access to nutritional food options, and where the food options that are available frequently come at a higher cost.  As a result, rates of nutrition-related diagnoses and complications, such as diabetes, heart disease, and many others are higher in those with lower incomes.  Conditions related to obesity like these in turn raise health care costs in America by almost $150 billion annually, which averages out to nearly $1500 per person – a cost that most cannot readily absorb.  Those living below the federal poverty line are ultimately twice as likely to die from diabetes, for example, and one study estimates that nearly 4,500 fewer Hoosiers overall would die each year if everyone statewide had equal access to health care resources.

Educational opportunities which can help people improve their financial standing become more difficult to engage as well.  This can be attributed at least in part to influence in policy by the wealthy – educational programs and support tend to come at least in significant part from public funding sources, and as the influence of the wealthy on political decision making gets stronger, funding and policy in support of such programs tends to decrease. Societies with wide income disparity like ours tend to have a lower overall education level on average, but a relatively higher number of educational elites than societies with more equally distributed income.  Income inequality not only creates resource disparity, but perpetuates a society of intellectual haves and have-nots which only reinforces the power of the wealthy.

On top of all of these concerns, it is important to remember that years and years of income inequality helps those with high incomes consolidate their assets and power.  Not only is there such a gulf in average incomes, but the inequality of wealth – a measure of total consolidated assets and net worth as opposed to how much money comes into a household in a given time – is even more egregious, and has consistently become more so since the 1980s.  The top 10% in America hold about 78% of the total wealth in the nation.  When invested and manipulated, “money makes money,” which only leads one to conclude that the problem perpetuates itself with very little effort.  Those who have accumulated such wealth, and who receive such high incomes, have the capital to keep expanding these gaps year after year, especially in the wake of the recent passing of the tax bill supported by Trump and the GOP, which cuts taxes for corporations and the country’s highest individual earners while raising taxes for nearly half of the country in the next ten years. A concerted effort to raise the minimum wage significantly not only here in Indiana but across the country is necessary to begin to balance the distribution of this wealth and bring us us at least closer to bridging the income gap.

These facts and figures can be uncomfortable and discouraging, but the best solution is to take action.  Continue to educate yourself and others regarding the wide-ranging impacts of income inequality. Support one another, by directly helping family and neighbors or by giving and volunteering when and where you can.  Learn not only about federal political races but certainly those on a state and local level, and find out what candidates are saying or planning to do about the causes and effects of income inequality. Speak out and support policy changes, such as supporting the introduction of a bill in the upcoming 2019 General Assembly session to raise the minimum wage in Indiana. The introduction of bills for this session has already begun; there’s no better time to take action than now.  And by all means, vote. Vote in all elections, whether local, federal, primary, or general. One fact stands above all others we’ve examined: the 99% will always outnumber the 1% as long as we make sure our voices are heard.

  1. The new gilded age: Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county. epi.org/publication/the-new-gilded-age-income-inequality-in-the-u-s-by-state-metropolitan-area-and-county/?blm_aid=20193l#epi-toc-3
  2. Economic disparity: 10 States where the middle class is being left behind. usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/03/01/economic-disparity-10-states-where-middle-class-being-left-behind/378376002/
  3. The Party of Nonvoters. people-press.org/2014/10/31/the-party-of-nonvoters-2/
  4. Indiana Healthy Food Access Coalition. http://inhealthyfoodaccess.com/
  5. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/sites/default/files/state/downloads/2015IndianaHealthGapsReport.pdf
  6. A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality. https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/a-guide-to-statistics-on-historical-trends-in-income-inequality

New LUM Klinker-Alting Family Advocacy Intern

Meet Angela Weaver – New LUM Intern

Angela grew up in Wheatfield, Indiana and graduated from Kankakee Valley High School. She and her husband, Kyle Brown, currently live in West Lafayette with their beagle, Bailey. Angela & Kyle grew up together and are both students at Purdue.

She will complete her degree in three years this May with a bachelor’s in Law & Society. After she graduates, Angela plans on working in advocacy within Indiana government.

At LUM, Angela is an intern with the Campaign for Hoosier Families.

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Two LUM Executive Directors Connect in DC

Jud Dolphin & Joe Micon Meet in Washington DC

Joe Micon, current LUM executive director, recently visited with Jud Dolphin, immediate past LUM executive director, in Washington DC, the current residence for Jud.

The visit included in-depth conversations about issues facing the families served by Lafayette Urban Ministry and a special visit to All Souls Church Unitarian. Joe and Jud attended service and visited with senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Hardies.

Joe Micon returned this week energized and ready to share what he learned on his trip with the LUM staff and board of directors.

Special thanks to Jud Dolphin for his hospitality and to Rev. Hardies for his service and personal time.

{Pictured above L to R: Jud Dolphin, Robert Hardies & Joe Micon.}

Jud Dolphin was the LUM Executive Director from 1978 to 1990. After 40 years working with social change organizations, Jud Dolphin retired and then joined the US Peace Corps. From 2009 to 2011, he served with the US Peace Corp in Konotop, Ukraine. He returned to Washington, DC where he taught English to new immigrants, conducted watercolor painting classes and furthered his personal artistic interests. Currently, Jud, through the US Peace Corps, is in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, working as an organizational specialist with an NGO whose mission is to alleviate poverty.

LUM’s Susan Brouillette Ordained

The Rev. Susan Brouillette – New LUM Chaplain

Recently at Bethany Presbyterian Church, Susan Brouillette, LUM program director, was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church.

The Service of Worship & Ordination was a wonderful celebration with worship, music, and speakers. Some highlights of the service were LUM students singing “Joy, Joy, Joy – Down in My Heart”; LUM summer teacher, Derrick Williams-Bacon, singing throughout the service; remarks & prayers from Joe Micon, LUM executive director, and Ellen Elly, wife of first LUM executive director, the Rev. Ron Elly; as well as from many friends of LUM such as the Rev. Don Nead, the Rev. Kevin Bowers, the Rev. Tracey Leslie and the Rev. Dr. Bradley Pace. Also in the spirit of Susan’s role with LUM as the director of the Immigration Clinic & the Social Justice ministry, the Epistle reading was read in six different languages — Arabic, Chinese, English, German, Hindi & Spanish.

At LUM, Susan will now also serve as the LUM Chaplain. She will serve as a support to the LUM clients, guests, families, staff and board members. Susan’s expertise and new role with LUM will be sure to have an immediate, positive impact on our services to the families and children in our community.

Join us in congratulating the Rev. Susan Brouillette on this significant accomplishment and wishing her the best as she begins the next phase of her spiritual journey.

To view more PHOTOS, please click HERE

March for Our Lives

The latest blog post from Jud Dolphin

jud green borderJud Dolphin is the immediate past executive director of Lafayette Urban Ministry, who periodically publishes an article on his blog.

His most recent post is timely and insightful. Please read Jud’s latest piece, “March for Our Lives” and let him know what you think. In the article, Jud shares,

“It’s sobering, but I’m encouraged to see so many Gen-Xers and Millennials. They greatly outnumbered us Baby Boomers. I think leadership for positive social change is being passed forward. New leaders. New energy. These young adults are so savvy. They know how to use technology, build inclusive coalitions and engage Americans to become more active citizens.”

To READ Jud Dolphin’s article online — click HERE.

Jud Dolphin was the LUM Executive Director from 1978 to 1990. After 40 years working with social change organizations, he retired and then joined the US Peace Corps. From 2009 to 2011, he served in Konotop, Ukraine. In 2015 to 2016, he served in Skopje, Macedonia as an organizational development specialist. Jud lives in Washington, DC where he is enjoying family and friends, creating art and volunteering for positive social change.

WL Student Gives Advocacy a New Tagline

Aidan Britton is a 13 year-old social advocate who has given Campaign for Hoosier Families a new tagline. Aidan, a West Lafayette Jr. High School student, submitted a questionnaire in preparation for his visit with Indiana State Representative Sheila Klinker. He stated that young people should “stand up, speak out, and inform” others to create change in our community.

Aidan encourages those who would be afraid to stand up for victims of bullying and oppression to

“think about how these individuals feel” and “get involved and have not just one person stand up, but have, like, five standing up.”

When Aidan isn’t swimming or playing in his school’s marching band, he enjoys learning about current events and history. Only a few years ago, he moved to West Lafayette from Dublin, Ireland, where he attended a speech by President Barack Obama. Aidan has continued to stay active in local social movements, having attended the 2017 Women’s March. He is passionate about education and providing more programs like after-school care for families in impoverished areas.

After graduation, Aidan would like to get his law degree from Indiana University and run for U.S. Senate. In the meantime, he plans to continue his advocacy and political involvement by joining his school’s debate team and running for student council.

Thanks again to Aidan Britton for the Campaign for Hoosier Families’ new tagline —


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