October 23rd, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
If you are not self-employed but rather are working for another person or entity, you expect to be paid, do you not? Maybe it is every Friday; maybe it is on the 1st and 15th, maybe it is by commission. Whatever your situation is you do expect to be compensated for your efforts on behalf of another.
That is true for all of us but in point of fact many workers in the United States and, especially in Texas, work hard, fulfill their side of the contract but are cheated out of some of their well-deserved pay or maybe, in some instances, are not paid at all. Wage theft in America is very real and the victims are the most vulnerable among us. Unskilled construction workers, especially immigrants, often find that they do not receive all that is due them when payday does come around. The same is true of jobs such as hotel maids. Laws regarding overtime are often disregarded and a 22-year-old girl from Nicaragua is not likely to take on a national hotel chain. Well, they have two things on their side. One is God, himself, who, in today’s first reading, God’s word comes to us in the book of Exodus with, “Ye shall not molest or suppress an alien…ye shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry and my wrath will flare up.” You can’t have a better patron than that.
But an additional source of strength for workers who are cheated out of their just due are two wonderful organizations, both of which exist here in Austin, Texas. One is a group of pro bono lawyers who work under the heading of the Equal Justice Center (510 S. Congress) and the other is the Workers Defense Project (5604 Manor Road). Both of these organizations have limited resources but they make up for that by dedication and courage.