Kelly Fryer

Interfaith Group Releases Open Letter to Wealthiest Americans

Posted |

 For Immediate Release, December 7, 2011

 Contact: Kelly Fryer, Interfaith Worker Justice

Phone:             773-710-9837      
Email: kfryer@iwj.org

National Day of Prayer Planned for the One Percent

Washington, D.C. – A national group of interfaith leaders is calling wealthy Americans to support economic policies that benefit all Americans. The board of directors of Interfaith Worker Justice approved “An Open Letter to the One Percent” at its national meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. 

On Thursday IWJ will kick off an online Prayer Vigil for the one percent, to coincide with the Flower Prayer Vigil for the unemployed scheduled for 11 a.m. that same day in Washington, D.C. Several thousand people are expected to attend.

Edith Rasell, Vice President of IWJ’s Board of Directors, said, “A lot of wealthy Americans give generously to help those in need. But charity isn’t enough. Those who benefitted most from unfair economic policies during the past decades have a responsibility to make things right and help us create an economy that works for all.”

IWJ’s board is calling for tax policies and legislation that require more from the wealthiest Americans in order to create good jobs for everyone who wants to work, and for an extension of unemployment benefits for those unable to find work. If Congress does not pass an extension before the end of this month, 2 million unemployed Americans will be left without the help they need to feed their families.

The complete text of An Open Letter to the One Percent is below.

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Interfaith Worker Justice has been organizing, educating and advocating at the intersection of faith and work since 1996.  For more information or to schedule an interview with an IWJ board member, contact Kelly Fryerkfryer@iwj.org,             773-710-9837      .

 

Full Text:


To Whom Much Is Given, More is Required: 
An Open Letter to the One Percent

During this time of financial crisis and economic disparity, we affirm the God-given dignity of every person. We believe God loves all 100% of us and wants to use us to create a more just society.

As faith leaders, we appreciate the generosity, charity, and commitment to the common good that many of you embody. 

Still, some of you have used wealth and power to benefit the few at the expense of the many. We expect you to work with us to not only give generously, but to advocate for democracy and economic justice that works for everyone.

We call on you to:

•    Support tax policies and legislation that require more from you so our nation can create good jobs in America

•    Call for an extension of unemployment benefits for those unable to find work

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” We are in this together, all 100% of us.

– National Board of Directors, Interfaith Worker Justice

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View the original press release.



Interfaith Worker Justice Stands With Occupiers Who Face Eviction Calls People of Faith to Join Nov. 17 National Day of Action

Posted |

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kelly Fryer

Email: kfryer@iwj.org

Phone:             773-710-9837      

National – IWJ’s network of workers centers and labor-religion groups have spent months planning a National Day of Action for Just Jobs on Nov. 17. The attempted evictions at Occupy Wall Street and in other cities, however, prompted IWJ to join their efforts with the occupiers and other organizations planning actions this week.

 

Kim Bobo, Executive Director of IWJ, said, “In many times and places, people of faith and conscience are ‘lights in the world.’  Philippians 2 talks about being a ‘light in the world’ in the ‘midst of a crooked and perverse nation.’ This week, as police and political forces attempt to remove the tarps and tents, attempting to stomp out the lights of the Occupy movement, we know that the light of truth and justice shines on.  A familiar children’s song says, ‘This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.’  To which we say, ‘Amen!’ Together we will shine forth the truth, shine forth the justice, and shine forth the vision of a world where we all share in God's prosperity.”

 

IWJ is calling people of faith to “take action for just jobs and a just economy whenever and however they can” this week, according to Adam DeRose, IWJ’s Online Organizer. DeRose is en route to New York City where he will be joining the action at Occupy Wall Street tomorrow. National staff members from IWJ will also be at Occupy Chicago and Occupy D.C. actions.

 

A list of actions happening this week can be found at iwj.org. They include:

 

  • Sojourner’s Circles of Protection ­– Nov. 16
  • 20 actions against wage theft being led by IWJ-affiliated groups – Nov. 17
  • “We Are One” bridge actions – Nov. 17
  • Just Jobs Sabbath Day (IWJ) or Vigil for a Faithful Budget (National Council of Churches) – Nov. 18-20
  • National Day of Action events at various Occupy sites – Nov. 17
  • Pitch a Solidarity Tent on the front lawn of your congregation – Nov. 17-20

 

For information about any of the actions happening this week or to schedule an interview, contact Kelly Fryer kfryer@iwj.org or             773-710-9837      .

 

 

Interfaith Worker Justice has been organizing, educating and advocating at the intersection of faith and work since 1996.

View the original press release.

Interfaith Worker Justice Celebrates Ohio Victory

Posted |

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kelly Fryer

Phone:             773-710-9837      

Email: kfryer@iwj.org

 

Interfaith Worker Justice Celebrates Ohio Victory

Nov. 17-20 National Days of Action for Just Jobs Planned

 

National – On Nov. 17-20 Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) is planning four National Days of Action for Just Jobs. Interfaith worker advocates were part of the coalition that turned back an Ohio law this week that restricted the right of workers to bargain collectively.  Their efforts are part of a movement led by the IWJ affiliate network fighting for workers’ rights and winning victories, including tough anti-wage theft and paid sick day legislation, in cities and states across the U.S.

 

Rev. Troy Jackson, faith-based coordinator for We Are Ohio, said the National Days of Action are even more important in light of the work done to overturn SB5. “We must continue to think and work from a faith-rooted perspective so the gains we made in Ohio lead to a radical awakening of the power of people of faith in support of the labor movement and workers.” Jackson is pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati and an IWJ national board member.

 

During the Nov. 17-20 National Days of Action, Workers Centers in the IWJ network will hold a variety of actions, mostly around the issue of wage theft. Congregations in the network will be holding Just Jobs Sabbath Days. Some are pitching Solidarity Tents to show support of the economic and moral questions being raised by those who are occupying Wall Street. IWJ is also encouraging people of faith to participate in the “Invest in Infrastructure” bridge actions planned by the AFL-CIO for Nov. 17.

 

Karen Krause, director of Toledo Area Jobs With Justice/Interfaith Worker Justice, said. “I hope the resounding victory Tuesday in overturning SB5 will serve as a wake-up call for our elected officials and those who try to turn back the clock to times when workers had no voice.” People of faith will continue be on the front lines, Krause said, of the effort to protect workers’ rights and create just jobs.

 

This is the third annual National Days of Action sponsored by Interfaith Worker Justice.

 

For more information about the Nov. 17-20 Days of Action or to interview Ohio interfaith leaders contact Kelly Fryerkfryer@iwj.org

 

Interfaith Worker Justice has been organizing, educating and advocating at the intersection of work and faith since 1996.

 

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Interfaith Worker Advocates Take Action to Support the 99 Percent

Posted |

Contact: Kelly Fryer

Phone:             773-710-9837      

Email: kfryer@iwj.org

 

Interfaith Worker Advocates Take Action to Support the 99 Percent

Nov. 17-20 National Days of Action Planned

 

National – Interfaith congregations and worker advocates are supporting the 99 percent by taking action against wage theft and lifting up the need for just jobs on Nov. 17-20. Workers Centers in the Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) network are sponsoring actions in nearly 20 locations across the United States.

 

“This economy is unfair,” said Kim Bobo, Executive Director of IWJ. “The 99 percent are saying that we need jobs but we need jobs that are just – jobs that pay a living wage and offer benefits that you support a family on – jobs with employers who don’t steal your wages from you.”

 

On Nov. 17, the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center will be putting a recently-won state-wide wage theft law to the test by bringing workers with wage claims to their local police departments. The Workers Center of Central New York is sponsoring a march beginning at the site of Occupy Syracuse.  A delegation from the Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center is set to visit a Fayetteville, Ark. restaurant to demand an employer pay back wages. During the weekend of Nov. 18-20, congregations of all faiths in Memphis are organizing Just Job Sabbath days. Similar actions are planned across the country.

 

IWJ has targeted the issue of wage theft, in part, because this is a problem that can be solved, according to Bobo. “Just a few years ago nobody was even talking about the issue of wage theft,” she said. “Now we are seeing victories at state and local levels across the country.”

 

Since the first National Wage Theft Day of Action in 2009 tough anti-wage theft laws have been passed in Texas, New York, San Francisco, Miami-Dade County, Seattle and other cities.

 

Last week, Bobo testified before the US House subcommittee on Workforce Protections that more enforcement by federal agencies is needed. Her newly revised and expanded book Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Americans are Not Getting Paid and What You Can Do About It was released this month.

 

For information about Nov. 17-20 National Wage Theft Days of Action events planned in a particular city, to get a review copy of Wage Theft in America or to schedule an interview, contact Kelly Fryerkfryer@iwj.org or             773-710-9837      .

 

 

Interfaith Worker Justice has been organizing, educating and advocating at the intersection of work and faith in the United States since 1996.

 

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Kim Bobo Releases New Expanded Book on Wage Theft

Posted |

For Immediate Release

Nov. 1, 2011

Contact: Cathy Junia

Cell phone:             773-710-9837      

Email: cjunia@iwj.org

 

A HOPEFUL STORY OF ECONOMIC JUSTICE

KIM BOBO RELEASES NEW EXPANDED BOOK ON WAGE THEFT

 

National – While crowds seeking economic justice occupy Wall Street and other cities, an interfaith movement has been busy winning victories and making allies in the effort to end wage theft. Kim Bobo tells that hope-filled story in her newly revised and expanded version of Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Americans are not Getting Paid and What We Can Do About It.

 

The book is being released this month, in conjunction with the National Wage Theft Days of Action scheduled for Nov. 17-20.

 

Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, says few people in media or government were paying attention to “wage theft” in 2008, the year her book was first published. But she says, “A lot of progress has been made since then.”

 

New chapters tell the story of anti-wage theft state and local laws. In the past 18 months alone, legislation has been passed in Texas, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami-Dade County. These efforts were spearheaded by coalitions of interfaith religious leaders, worker advocates, ethical business leaders and worker centers.

 

Workers have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars from employers who stole their wages. 

 

“These recovered wages,” Bobo says, “are dollars those workers can spend in their communities. Employers who are being forced to pay back taxes are putting money into government coffers, money to pay teachers and fire fighters. And ethical businesses no longer have to compete with those who cheat to get ahead. What could be a better economic stimulus plan than that?”

 

Another new chapter in Bobo’s book tells the story of ethical business leaders like Stan Marek, president and CEO of a family of large building and construction firms operating primarily in Texas. Marek operates in an industry notorious for wage theft. He says it’s hard competing against employers who can underbid him because they’re stealing from their workers.  But he believes wage theft threatens the industry he grew up in. Plus, he says, it’s just wrong. “If we care about our workers,” Marek says, “we’ve got to see that folks are paid better.”

 

For more information, to request a review copy of Wage Theft in America or to interview Kim Bobo, contact cjunia@iwj.org.

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Kim Bobo, founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, is scheduled to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Workforce Protection this Thursday, Nov. 3.

VERIZON WORKERS SUPPORTED AS “iWONT” CAMPAIGN BEGINS

Posted |

For Immediate Release
Oct. 12, 2011

Contact: Kelly Fryer

Cell phone:             773-710-9837      

Email: kfryer@iwj.org

 

PEOPLE OF FAITH PETITION DELIVERED TO VERIZON HEADQUARTERS
VERIZON WORKERS SUPPORTED AS “iWONT” CAMPAIGN BEGINS

New York - Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition's Rabbi Michael Feinberg and the Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp delivered a People of Faith petition with 2000 signatures, collected by Interfaith Worker Justice, to the Verizon headquarters in Manhattan yesterday. 

Security directed Feinberg and Kooperkamp to the mailroom.

"We weren't allowed to go upstairs, and no one came downstairs," Feinberg said.

 

Feinberg and Kooperkamp delivered the petition asking for Verizon to bargain with its workers in good faith to a mailroom manager.

"From behind the glass, workers in the mail room gave us the thumbs up and mouthed words like 'fantastic' and 'incredible,'" Feinberg said.

Feinberg said he could tell the workers were pleased with the delivery.

“Since August, 45,000 Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers have been fighting to protect their health care coverage and other standard employee benefits against company demands for massive takebacks that threaten tens of thousands of middle class families,” according to the Communications Workers of America.

A coalition of groups launched a nationwide iWon't Campaign last week, asking Americans to delay upgrading to the new iPhone on Verizon Wireless until the company agrees to a fair contract with its workers.

 

Interfaith Worker Justice has been organizing people of faith for sustainable jobs and worker justice for 15 yrs. For more information contact Kelly Fryer             773-710-9837       kfryer@iwj.org

 

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IWJ Stands With Occupy America: Releases Congregational Discussion Guides

Posted |

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kelly Fryer
Cell Phone:             773-710-9837      
Email: kfryer@iwj.org

IWJ Stands With Occupy America:
Releases Congregational Discussion Guides

National – Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has announced its support of the Occupy America movement, which started on Wall Street in New York City and is spreading to other cities across the United States. IWJ has also produced a discussion guide to help congregational members talk together, within the context of their shared faith, about the meaning and implications of these protests.

Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Director of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, an IWJ affiliate organization, has spent time on the ground at Occupy Wall Street. On Tuesday afternoon, October 4, he told IWJ that 500-600 people were camped out with many more expected on Wednesday. ‎"This occupation of Wall Street is an important expression of popular anger about the way economic policy and the US economy are not working for most working people," Feinberg said.

Kim Bobo, Executive Director of IWJ, says, "People of faith may not all agree with or even understand everything the Wall Street protestors are saying. But these protests are a teachable moment. They are giving congregations an opportunity to talk together about how we can help families hurt by this economy."

All faith traditions affirm the value of a just economy that serves all, not just the top one percent. The website of Occupy Wall Street says:

"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."

IWJ's congregational discussion guide encourages people of faith to ask, "Is there some truth to the '99 percent' being left out? What more could our congregation do to make sure that the resources of society are shared with all people?"

The discussion guides include reflection on key Scripture passages. There are guides available for Christian and Jewish congregations. A guide for Muslim congregations will be available by the end of the week.

The free congregational discussion guide can be downloaded at IWJ's website by clicking here.

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IWJ organizes people of faith for sustainable jobs and worker justice. For more information about IWJ's mission, congregational resources, how you can get involved in the cause of worker justice - or to set up an interview with someone from IWJ – email kfryer@iwj.org.

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CONGREGATIONS TACKLE LOCAL ISSUES IN SUPPORT OF WORKER JUSTICE THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

Posted |

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kelly Fryer
Phone:             312-310-7921      

Date: August 31, 2011

 

CONGREGATIONS TACKLE LOCAL ISSUES
IN SUPPORT OF WORKER JUSTICE THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

 

[National] “Labor Sunday” was first celebrated 98 years ago and was intended to lift up the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. For the past 15 years, interfaith religious communities across the United States have been celebrating Labor in the Pulpit/on the Bimah/in the Minbar during Labor Day worship services – a program designed by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) in partnership with the AFL-CIO. But this year it’s all about context as congregations prepare to address very specific local issues facing workers and working families in their communities.

 

Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, said, “Congregational leaders realize that working families in their communities – and in their own pews – are really struggling in this economy. They are sick and tired of the way working people are being blamed for the crisis. And they want to do something tangible to make a difference.”

 

In New Orleans, LA, for example, interfaith leaders and worker advocates are asking congregations to Pray for Avondale during Labor Day weekend worship services and then to attend a community-wide Rally for Avondale which will be held on October 1, 2011. Avondale Shipyards, the largest private employer in Louisiana, has been building ships for the United States Navy but this contract is being terminated. For congregations in San Jose, CA, the focus this Labor Day weekend will be food justice. Interfaith leaders and worker advocates will be speaking at more than 100 worship services, calling on religious people to strive for justice for farm workers, grocery workers, and all people involved in the production, selling, and consumption of food. Interfaith leaders in Denver, CO are kicking off Labor Day weekend events with a Town Hall Forum on the Denver Paid Sick Days Ballot Campaign to be held at Highlands Church on August 31, 2011. And Arise Chicago, an Interfaith Worker Justice affiliate, has been working with the Chicago Teachers Union to put “Teachers in the Pulpits” this Labor Day weekend, in direct response to the attack on public school teachers and other public sector workers that began earlier this year in Wisconsin and has spread to other cities and states around the country.

 

For information about how congregations are celebrating Labor in the Pulpit/on the Bimah/in the Minbar in a specific community and/or to interview a religious leader about their Labor Day weekend plans, contact Kelly Fryer at             312-310-7921      . Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has been educating, resourcing, and mobilizing the religious community in support of justice for workers and working families since 1996. 

 

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