What is there to be joyful about as the end of the year draws closer and the bearded men in the red suits dominate the television channels and the malls and merchandise flies off the shelves of stores all across the nation?
On Dec. 22, people of faith hosted prayer vigils for workers all along the supply chain, but especially the 112 Bangladeshi workers who died in a fire at a garment factory that produces clothing sold in Walmart stores in the U.S.
The Dec. 22 vigils followed more than 100 vigils on Black Friday—part of more than 1,200 actions at Walmart stores across the country supporting retail workers in the third largest workforce in the world. Many courageous workers walked off their jobs to protest low pay, stolen wages, manipulative scheduling, expensive benefits, the risk of losing a job when sick, and retaliation for speaking and standing up for their rights.
Threats to workers and the labor movement have intensified as the number of states enacting and planning “right to work for less laws” grows. Incredibly, Michigan and Indiana are on that list.
This holiday season has come to represent giving and hope for us all. Our government should take seriously the needs of workers whose labor makes any celebration possible and provides the resources for families to thrive?
We've got to push lawmakers and corporations to hear that cry! This work is not possible without the generous support of people of faith and worker advocates like you! Click here to make a gift to IWJ today!
So what is there to be joyful about during this Christmas season?
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people—Luke 2:10
As the year ends we can celebrate the growing movement of people that, despite the challenges, remains committed to the struggle for worker justice, both here and abroad.
We can celebrate the steady gains in employment numbers and excitement among those who champion immigration reform in the United States. A changing electoral demographic will make a path to citizenship more likely in the coming year. The lives of millions of low-wage workers will benefit from meaningful and comprehensive reform.
The labor movement is intensifying efforts to protect workers from state and federal legislators and unethical corporations who conspire against working people and the unions who work on their behalf. A vigorous worker center movement is growing as a new force for the empowerment of the American worker. Workers are taking to the streets and the state houses and demanding justice.
People of faith are a growing part of labor and community partnerships supporting workers and raising their voices for fundamental change in the way workers are treated in our nation. Interfaith Worker Justice is an integral part of the work to raise the minimum wage, broaden benefits to workers like paid sick days and pay-stub transparency, and advocate on behalf of and alongside retail workers in work to bring justice and fairness to Walmart.
This Christmas season, we celebrate hope. And we celebrate it with you! Click here to celebrate Christmas with a gift to IWJ.
God of all
We pray for our nation after this prolonged period of campaigning with hopes that those elected to lead, at every level, will work now for your people. We pray these men and women will humble themselves to the sacred task of governing for the people who cast votes, not the corporations and wealthy individuals who paid for influence. We pray for legislators who will care about jobs for the unemployed and underemployed, education and opportunity for children, and health care for all, especially the most vulnerable among us.
We pray for laws that will protect and respect the earth—this planet created to be a home for all humanity, not a thing to be owned and exploited for profit by a few. We pray for regulations that will harness the hubris and greed of the financial sector. We pray for governance that knows the difference between a financial system and an economy, the one that has become a perverted and unregulated industry, the other a living organism of earth and human life.
We pray for wisdom not rhetoric; generosity not indifference, and justice not patronage. We want legislators working across the aisle, not erecting barriers like the border walls that imprison even those who seek to keep others out. We pray for a just sharing in the expense of government, let those blessed with great wealth give according to their means, let all give as they are able.
We pray for leaders gifted in diplomacy, blessed with character and integrity; leaders who know our security comes from relationships of trust and communication, not superior guns, more bombs and bloated armed services.
For our part give us the patience to give our leaders a chance to govern with grace, compassion, justice, and love. Let us support sincere effort and celebrate wise compromise. Make us accountable to our faith and so hold those we elect accountable to serve all the people, not just those who can afford to pay for self-serving polices.
May we never cease to pray, and to hope, and to work for justice for all.
I wanted to cheer when the first segment on the economy was a focus on simply, “Jobs.” Jim Lehrer made the wise decision to begin with the most critical issue facing the nation. To end poverty we need jobs—good jobs for American workers that pay enough to support our families. But it was all downhill from there.
It’s unfortunate that beginning with the right subject didn’t evolve into detailed proposals on plans for creating new jobs and employing millions of workers. Even more troubling was the absence of debate about the critical concerns for worker justice that are at the center of the focus of IWJ. There was no discussion of collective bargaining, no discussion of immigration and the plight of the immigrant worker, no discussion of the desperate need to raise the minimum wage, very little discussion and especially concrete detail about creating new and well paying jobs with benefits that enable security for individuals and families.
If our presidential candidates can’t talk about these things how can we expect to create a legislative climate in which real solutions to these problems can be constructed? People of every faith need to remain vigilant in our strong advocacy of jobs and justice for working people. We need to continue to organize, educate, and advocate for individuals living in poverty, for unemployed and underemployed people struggling to make ends meet.
Download the Vote You Values voter's guide for information on issues impacting working families.