Investor Statement Marks Important Step Toward Fairer Labor Practices 

United Church Funds (UCF) has proudly joined 135 other institutional investors, managing combined assets of $4.5 trillion, in endorsing the Investor Statement in Support of a Living Wage. Issued on November 15 by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the statement represents a collective call to action for U.S. companies to pay a living wage to all their workers, both direct and contract, in alignment with international human rights standards. 

UCF’s decision to support this initiative is rooted in ethical considerations and underpinned by a compelling business case. Companies that fail to pay a living wage expose themselves to significant financial and reputational risks. Additionally, addressing income inequality through fair compensation is crucial to mitigate systemic societal and economic risks, particularly when such divides contribute to social and economic unrest in the U.S.  

Moreover, as the Investor Statement points out, the concept of a living wage is recognized as a human right in various international treaties and frameworks, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Preamble of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Constitution, and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

“Corporations have long said that their employees are their most important asset, and the time has come for these same businesses to start putting their money where their mouths are,” emphasized Matthew Illian, UCF Director of Responsible Investing. 

“Businesses that fail to proactively address compensation issues not only risk worker strikes but also miss the opportunity to cultivate a positive employment culture, which is the cornerstone of sustainable success in the modern marketplace,” added Illian. 

UCF is also actively collaborating with worker engagement partners, such as Step Up Louisiana and like-minded investors, to advocate for improved employee safety measures, and we have been one of the key players in a multi-year effort to enhance worker health, safety and welfare at low-cost dollar stores. 

In a significant victory for workers, a shareholder resolution filed by UCF, Domini Impact Investments LLC, and ICCR members received an impressive 68% support from Dollar General shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on May 31. This majority vote signals a turning point in the movement advocating for fair labor practices and human rights, demonstrating a growing demand for ethical corporate conduct. 

UCF extended its commitment by filing a shareholder resolution at Dollar Tree, urging the company to review its compensation practices and address wage inequality. On August 23, Dollar Tree reached a wide-ranging worker safety agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Under the terms of the agreement, Dollar Tree will pay a $1.35 million fine and implement multiple changes to its business practices related to unsafe working conditions. 

UCF’s endorsement of the Investor Statement in Support of a Living Wage and its active engagement with companies like Dollar General and Dollar Tree exemplify a commitment to creating a more just world for all. Through collaborative efforts and principled shareholder activism, UCF seeks to contribute to a future where all workers are not just sustained but thriving.