Labor in the Pulpit

Paul Harvey

For this Labor Day, here's a whole host of links, pdf printouts, reprinted statements, and aids to "Labor in the Pulpit," from our friends at Interfaith Worker Justice. Included, for example, is the link to this piece by Jennifer Butler at the Washington Post's "On Faith" site, which provides this helpful set of followups:

Along with the Catholic Church's centuries-old commitment to labor rights, many faith-based social justice groups are leading the fight for fair wages and corporate accountability across the country. Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago-based national advocacy organization, has played an indispensable role drawing attention to wage theft - the illegal underpayment or non-payment of workers. Each year, wage theft affects millions of workers, often forcing them to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Since 1996, through a Labor in the Pulpits program, thousands of congregations across the country have focused their Labor Day weekend services on the injustices faced by low-wage workers. Groups such as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Jewish Funds for Justice support local organizations that empower workers and advocate for policies that protect working families. PICO National Network, a national network of faith-based community organizations, plays an important role mobilizing people of faith to pressure financial institutions to end predatory lending and strengthen low-income neighborhoods through sound economic development. And unlike today's Tea Party movement and other anti-government zealots, faith groups affirm the essential role government has in serving the common good and protecting those who are most vulnerable to market downturns.

Here's an announcement and statement about the day by Interfaith Worker Justice:|

Lifting up Workers on Labor Day Weekend

Religious and Labor Leaders Voice Shared Concerns through Labor in the Pulpits

In the richest country in the world, more than two million full-time workers live below the poverty line, struggling to pay for necessities like food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and childcare. In the face of this scandal, Interfaith Worker Justice provides a prophetic voice.

Labor Day is a time for the religious community and the labor movement not only to celebrate working people and their contributions to society but to remember the struggles that workers endured to achieve the many benefits we now enjoy but take for granted: the eight-hour day, workers’ compensation, overtime pay, pensions, health and safety laws, Social Security, Medicare, vacation days, unemployment compensation, family medical leave, a restriction on child labor, a minimum wage and the right to organize for collective bargaining. These benefits helped to humanize the workplace and to provide a safety net for millions.

For the last 15 years, thousands of congregations have focused their Labor Day weekend services on the injustices facing low-wage workers and the religious community's efforts to support those workers' struggles for living wages and family-sustaining benefits.

This Labor Day weekend, over 1,000 Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar services will be held across the country.

“Labor in the Pulpits expresses in a very clear way the bonds between religion and labor,” says IWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo. Those bonds are even stronger this year, says Bobo, “as we stand poised to bring about real change in our country, from reforming health care to stopping wage theft and making our workplaces more democratic.”

Labor in the Pulpits offers a series of litanies, responsive readings, reflections, and interfaith prayer service guides. New materials added this year include a Muslim worship aid, a Jewish reflection, prayers and readings on the rights of workers.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for this post, but it would also be nice to see a recognition that many of your readers are also workers, either faculty, adjuncts, or graduate employees. How about an interview with some job seekers, a discussion of the academic labor market, or a discussion of adjuncting and other contingent academic work?

More and more academic workers are represented by unions every year, from graduate employees to adjuncts to tenure-track professors. For many of us, the labor movement isn't just an area of study, but a part of the fabric of working in the academy. With attacks on education by the Tea Party movement and other regressive types, the labor movement remains one of the best ways for us to defend the future of both higher education and our careers.