Various church groups have issued Labor Day proclamations and announced their support of "full employment week" beginning Sept. 4 in an attempt to urge government action that would result in a near-zero unemployment rate.
President William P. Thompson and General Secretary Claire Randall of the National Council of Churches warned in a proclamation that "a failure on the part of church people and policymakers to move on a full employment policy will result in the eventual deterioration of the will and purpose of the nation."
In their statement, the NCC officials said President Carter should develop a "full employment and national purposes budget" to create private and public sector jobs in energy, mass transportation, housing, education and other fields.
Urging that a specific effort should be made in the private employment sector, the NCC officials said the federal government should become "the employer of last resort" for those who can't find private jobs.
The two church leaders also suggested the coordination of the policies of the Federal Reserve Board, such as setting of interest rates, with a government program for full employment and the establishment of "an administration appeals procedure" for the unemployed.
The body's national governing board last year declared that every individual should be guaranteed "the right and the opportunity to a job at adequate compensation" and called on the federal government to make full employment thee "nation's number one priority.
In a separate statement, the U.S. Catholic Conference called massive unemployment in this country "the most serious threat to human dignity and the most serious violation of social justice" in American economic life."
The Catholic Conference chided President Carter for failing to "follow through" on his campaign pledges to call for a "national commitment to full employment" and to push for passage of a comprehensive full employment and balanced growth act.
Instead, the conference said, the President has sponsored a "modest program" of economic and employment initiatives that "falls far short of genuine full employment."
The conference issued a 3,800-word statement authored by Msgr. George G. Higgins, USCC secretary for research and a labor relations specialist, and John Carr, USCC cordinator for urban issues.
Entitled "Full Employment," the statement warned that high unemployment has become a "normal feature" of the nation's economy and that there signs of a "growing acceptance" of "intolerable" unemployment rates.
The suffering of millions of our fellow citizens, the teaching of the church and the ideals of our nation require prompt, effective and compassionate action to put all our people to work," the statement declared. It said the religious community will be asked this week to pray for the unemployment and to "examine the ethical and moral dimensions of unemployment in homilies and other forums."
"While the rights of workers to organize and obtain decent wages are still not guaranteed in our land," the USCC statement continued, "massive unemployment represents the most serious threat to human dignity and most serious violation of social justice in our economic life."
Catholic leaders also announced that they have joined with other religious groups, labor organizations and civil rights units in attempting to form a coalition to combat unemployment that would rank with the 1960s civil rights movement.
The Full Employment Action Council, in the words of co-chairperson Coretta Scott King, seeks to remind the nation that "unemployment is a form of oppression for those who suffer its impact."
As part of Labor Day observances in the Washington area, the traditional Labor Day mass will be held in Sacred Heart Church in Washington at 10 a.m. Monday. Speaking will be Bishop Thomas Lyons and George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO.
Also Msgr. Higgins will speak at a Sept. 7 mass at the Church of St. Mary's Station in Fairfax, Va.
The Jewish Community Council also has asked its 180 affiliated Jewish organizations throughout the Washington area to participate in the "National Full Employment Week" that begins Sunday.
The "Full Employment Week" observances in Washington have been given full recognition by Mayor Walter E. Washington, who has issued a proclamation to that effect.
Among the events planned here, in addition to the Monday mass, are:
Public hearings beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday on "the People's Stake in Full employment," before the D.C. City Council; a 12:30 p.m. luncheon Wednesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 388, to call attention to the Congress "to the need for further action to create jobs;" Thursday meetings of the National Full Employment Council Board with congressional leaders: and a noon Friday rally at Lafayette Park with speakers and entertainment.