Interfaith Worker Justice

This is what religion looks like.



Union-Made Super Bowl Party Shopping List

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Union-Made Super Bowl Party Shopping List is a cross-post from our siblings over at the AFL-CIO.

On Super Bowl Sunday next week, some of our larger and faster union brothers—members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA)—will be battling it out in Glendale, Ariz., at Super Bowl XLIX (49 for those of us who are shaky on Roman numerals).  While the Super Bowl carries a union label, from players to broadcast crews to stadium workers—your Super Bowl party spread can, too, with union-made in America food and drinks.

Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters (IBT).


Beck's, Budweiser, Busch. Goose Island, Hoegaarden, Land Shark Lager, Leffe Blond, Michelob, Natural, O'Doul's (non alcoholic), Shock Top, Stella Artois, Iron City, Rolling Rock, Red Stripe, Kirin, Labatt Blue, Stegmaier, Lionshead, Steelhead, Butte Creek, Red Tail Ale, Blue Moon, Henry Weinhard's, Killian's, Mickey's, Molson Canadian, Olde English 800, Steel Reserve, Miller, Keystone Light, 1845 Pils, Bass Pale Ale, Moosehead, Schlitz, Pabst, Sam Adams, Hamm's and Kingfisher Premium Lager.


Alexander & Hornung, Always Tender, Ball Park, Banquet, Butterball, Dearborn Sausage Co., Farmer John, Farmland, Hebrew National, Hormel, Omaha Steaks, Oscar Meyer, Thumann’s and Tyson.

Snack Food

Act II Popcorn, Bagel Bites, Lay’s, Cheetos, Cheez-It, Chex Mix, Chips Ahoy, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, Rice Krispies Treats, Rold Gold Pretzels, Ruffle, Triscuit and Wheat Thins.

Chips and Salsa

Mission Chips, Old El Paso Chips, Dips and Salsa, Pace Salsa, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Sun Chips Tostitos Chips and Salsa.

Originally posted on Jan. 25, 2015 by Mike Hall on the AFL-CIO NOW blog.

Rudy's thoughts on SOTU

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Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director Rudy López issued the following statement:

President Obama delivered a message grounded in core values shared across faith traditions: to love one’s neighbor as oneself and to treat each other with dignity and respect. If we truly want our communities and our economy to thrive, we must care for and invest in people and families first.

One step in that direction is the president’s proposal that gives all workers seven days of paid sick leave a year and assistance to help states start their own paid family and medical leave programs. No one should face the impossible choice of caring for their health or keeping their paycheck or job. But millions of workers are forced to make this decision every time they or a family member needs care. We thank the president for his leadership on this issue.

We also support the presidential memorandum that makes it easier for federal employees to take up to six weeks of “maternity” leave by advancing paid sick leave. No mother should be forced to choose between spending time with her newborn child or earning a living.

We believe income inequality is a moral issue that threatens the health and well-being of our country. Religious scripture tells us: to whom much is given, much is expected. We encourage President Obama to move our nation in the direction of shared prosperity for all Americans.

As people of faith, we are called to advocate for wages and working standards that honor the human dignity of workers. We urge the president to lead a bipartisan effort on raising wages, finding new ways to support workers and addressing the growing inequality of wealth and opportunities in the nation.

We at IWJ ask this administration to take action on issuing a simple but significant regulation that could help address the nation’s growing problem with wage theft: Paystubs for All. Workers who don't have access to documentation that explains how their pay is calculated are more vulnerable to wage theft. When tens of millions of dollars of unpaid wages are stolen from workers annually, we believe that a paystubs regulation is an important complementary step for raising workers' incomes. We urge the president to help make Paystubs for All happen.  

Finally, we need real and meaningful immigration reform. While we applaud the president’s temporary fix, we urge him to continue to push congress for a permanent solution. Every day, in this nation of immigrants, families are torn apart, workers are exploited and human dignity is ignored – and our entire country cannot move forward as a result. Our nation is hungry for real immigration reform. For as long as immigrant workers are left vulnerable to poverty wages and abuse, and families are ripped apart by deportation, we cannot fully address income inequality nor can we move forward as one nation under God.:

Now it's your turn to let Rudy know what YOU thought about the president's message. Email him at rudylopez at

Follow Rudy on Twitter @RudyLopezIWJ

10 Times Dr. King was Down with Workers and the Poor

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Adam DeRose |

The millennials on staff here at IWJ have encouraged the team to use more "sensory verbs" and imagery in our work. So, to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his inspiring wisdom and brilliant (but rarely celebrated) sense of humor, we gathered some of his most inspiring quotes on poverty, justice, workers and the economy...and added a little twist.
As we celebrate Dr. King's legacy and radical vision for a better and more inclusive world, let us draw strength from his words and continue in the struggle for worker, economic and racial justice.

1. "So it is obvious that if a man is to redeem his spiritual and moral ‘lag,’ he must go all out to bridge the social and economic gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s’ of the world." 


2. "I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few."


3. "The Curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."


4. "God intends for all of his children to have the basic necessities of life, and he has left in the universe enough to spare for that purpose."


5. "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."


6. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


7. "As I have said many times, and believe with all my heart, the coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined."


8. "The Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress."


9. "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."


10. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." 


 More? what Dr. King quotes inspire you to continue in the movement?

Good Works Chicago: the Hallstar Company

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John J. Paro, Chairman, President & CEO, of the Hallstar Company talks with Good Works Chicago about how the company grew to value employees, pay them well and offer a complex benefits plan.

If you believe you are a not being treated fairly by your employer or are a victim of wage theft and are being paid unfairly, please call IWJ's Wage Theft Legal Clinic at (773) 998-1320. The hotline is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Wage Theft Clinic is located at 19 W. Jackson Blvd. at the John Marshall Law School. All messages will be answered within 24 hours.

Good Works Chicago: Herb and Shelly’s

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By Eric Coats

Shelly Herman, founder of Herb and Shelly’s, joined Good Works Chicago on Dec. 16 to discuss the farm fresh market. Herb and Shelly’s delivers fresh food to its customers— everything from vegetables and eggs to meats and dairies. Several years after meeting her husband while studying business at MIT, the two decided to develop an ethical and healthy company which sources its produce from local growers. Herb and Shelly’s makes sure each grower is being treated fairly, and that the farmworkers on the farms are treated fairly. The company seeks to maintain a mutually beneficial business arrangement, usually conducted by a handshake. The company’s mission, according to Shelly, is to preserve the environment, help provide access to healthy food to all, and contribute to a vibrant, local economy.

Shelly has a profound philosophy around the way she believes workers must be treated. She sees workers first and foremost as people, individuals who deserve fair pay, vacation days, holidays, sick days, personal days, and financial support for health insurance. She understands that companies have needs, especially the need to keep costs down, but she says “cutting wages and workers' benefits as a way to be efficient is shortsighted.”

Shelly says she's a firm believer in creating a positive environment which nurtures workers and when that happens, success rings ten-fold. This seems to be a pattern with employers who have made the wise (and economically-efficient) decision to invest in their workers rather than merely see them as expendable capital.

In the future Herb and Shelly’s will strive to provide fresh, healthy and delicious food to a variety of neighborhoods and incomes, while conducting a fair, socially-conscious, and still-efficient company.

If you believe you are a not being treated fairly by your employer or are a victim of wage theft and are being paid unfairly, please call IWJ's Wage Theft Legal Clinic at (773) 998-1320. The hotline is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Wage Theft Clinic is located at 19 W. Jackson Blvd. at the John Marshall Law School. All messages will be answered within 24 hours.

Good Works Chicago: Worker Cooperatives

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Camille Smith |

Brendan Martin of The Working World visited on Good Works Chicago this week. He shared with IWJ's Kim Bobo the story of New Era Windows, the worker-owned cooperative he’s working with here in Chicago area.

The history of New Era begins with the 2008 financial crisis. The nearby Chicago window factory joined thousands of businesses who faced challenges after the crisis. The factory closed without paying its workers all they were owed, and owners began moving out equipment. The workers occupied the factory and demanded they were paid their wages. This action generated the attention of the worker justice community around the country. Their devotion to creating change started them down the path of what New Era Windows is today.

The factory went through several different owners until the workers decided to buy out the company on their own. This happened because workers believed they could manage their own company. There are now 16 worker-owners at New Era Windows, and the company is in its first full year of production.

Brendan shared that though worker-owned cooperatives aren’t common in the United States, they are more possible than people think. Worker-owned cooperatives can start up from a group of workers on their own or come from an existing business. Worker-owned cooperatives aren’t common because workers don’t often see them as a possibility. Too often, workers accept workplaces as static rather than trying to change them. In the long run, when workers do start owning their own work, they find they are paid better. In order to start this transition, workers need to be educated about business and change their mental shift to ownership. When workers genuinely feel they own the company they tend to succeed. Brendan compared it to tending your own garden; you get to see the fruits of your own labor.

Anyone who wants to support worker-owned co-ops should believe and them and search locally to support them. Learn more about worker-owned co-ops and consider buying your windows from New Era.

If you believe you are a not being treated fairly by your employer or are a victim of wage theft and are being paid unfairly, please call IWJ's Wage Theft Legal Clinic at (773) 998-1320. The hotline is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Wage Theft Clinic is located at 19 W. Jackson Blvd. at the John Marshall Law School. All messages will be answered within 24 hours.

Good Works Chicago: Beyond Green

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Camille Smith |

Last week on Good Works Chicago, Greg Christian of Beyond Green, joined us to talk about pay, benefits and working conditions at his company. Beyond Green provides food services for schools without kitchens and provides consulting to schools looking to offer healthier food to students. Beyond Green is a certified B-Corporation, which means their company strives to help the environment and community.

Greg works to make sure Beyond Green prioritizes serving local, organic and hormone-free food. The challenge, he says, is to serve real food that kids like. Greg said that the key is to make healthy food tasty. Greg has been cooking for 34 years, mostly as a chef. At one point he aspired to work a high-end job, but his perspective changed when his child became ill. He learned about the health benefits of organic foods, and he saw how much that improved his child’s life. Now, his philosophy now is to serve the world by serving food. Greg started his work 11 years ago in Chicago Public Schools. He now works with private schools, but hopes to shift back to working with public schools because he knows it is essential for all children to eat well.

Beyond Green tries to do right by its employees. Many food service companies are often shortsighted in externalized costs, and squeeze out their workers. Greg says he's found that when workers are treated well and are happy at work, they stick around and provide better and more consistent work. Beyond Green runs a sustainable kitchen and employes a small diverse staff. Greg views his employees as his family and makes sure to pay them all above minimum wage. He remarked he would have no problem with mandated raise in the minimum wage, because he thinks it is important to pay workers well, especially in the food industry. In the future, Greg hopes to provide health insurance for his employees as an added benefit.

If you believe you are a not being treated fairly by your employer or are a victim of wage theft and are being paid unfairly, please call IWJ's Wage Theft Legal Clinic at (773) 998-1320. The hotline is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Wage Theft Clinic is located at 19 W. Jackson Blvd. at the John Marshall Law School. All messages will be answered within 24 hours.

Greed before Safety in Mining Disaster

1 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kim Bobo |

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the former director of Massey Energy, Donald Blankenship, was indicted on four criminal counts by a federal grand jury for violating mine safety rules and deceiving federal inspectors. The indictment claims that his willful disregard for safety laws in order to make more money resulted in 29 men dying in West Virginia at the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. 

Finally, a move to seek justice for the 29 mineworkers died because of greed.

The report is amazingly clear about the role played by greed. It indicates that Mr. Blankenship ignored safety violations “in order to produce more coal, avoid the costs of following safety laws, and make more money.” Unfortunately, Mr. Blakenship is not alone when it comes to putting profits before people and greed before safety. Poultry workers have serious hand and wrist injuries because the line speeds are too fast and there aren’t enough workers on the line. Fast food workers are burned because they aren’t taught how to handle grease and hot pans or are not given adequate protective gear. Roof workers fall off roofs, injuring or killing themselves, because contractors don’t invest in protective harnesses. 

The response from Blankenship’s lawyer is truly breathtaking. His lawyer claims, “Don Blankenship has been a tireless advocate for mine safety.” There are many things one could say that might have been close to the truth. For example, perhaps one might have said Blakenship has been a leader in the mine industry or an active public citizen (he’s a large contributor to conservative causes) or something else, but a safety advocate? Really?

I don’t know what will happen to Mr. Blankenship. The company that now owns the mine has paid criminal penalties to the Department of Justice. Subordinates have pleaded guilty in criminal cases. Surely, something will come of this case. Perhaps Mr. Blankenship will go to jail. He should. He put profits before people and greed before safety. Unfortunately for workers, he’s not alone.

Decision from Ferguson breaks our hearts

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With saddened and outraged hearts, we join the nation in mourning the denial of justice for Michael Brown. The grand jury's failure to acknowledge the abuse of power that took an innocent life is a serious affront to our values, to justice and to our democracy.

As people of faith, we have a moral obligation to stand up for a society that values and protects the inherent human dignity in ALL of us. We pray for strength drawn from our indignation so we might stand up and organize in our workplaces for a fair economy, in our neighborhoods to build a just democracy, and in our communities to build a society that values all of God’s people.

Earlier, the Workers Center for Racial Justice in Chicago joined the Black Youth Project at a rally in City Hall reminding Government officials that black lives matter.

Today, we must take action and lift up this crucial struggle for justice.

Here are three things you can do:

  • If you feel called, share your support on social media.

You can also share via twitter.

Good Works Chicago: I Have A Bean

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kim Bobo |

Pete Leonard of Second Chance Coffee, marketed under the I Have a Bean brand, shared his unique business story on this past week’s Good Works Chicago show on CANTV.  Pete’s story began when a family member who had strong business and technical skills couldn’t find a job because he had been convicted of a felony. Initially, Pete hired him for a software job, which worked out well.

Pete has always loved coffee, but experienced the most amazing cup of coffee ever while visiting a rural area on a church mission trip. He couldn’t believe someone could roast such good coffee in a big steel drum over a wood fire. Upon returning home, Pete began roasting his own coffee using his Weber grill. Friends and neighbors loved the taste.

Pete began to learn more about the struggles of ex-offenders. The biggest problem is often landing a job. Many employers don’t want to hire people with criminal records. Without access to jobs, too many people return to a life of crime. According to a 2011 study published by the Pew Center on the States, “Illinois prisoners commit new crimes or violate parole at an alarming rate: 51.7 percent of Illinois inmates return to prison within three years.” Pete believed his relative and others deserve a second change.

Pete decided to put his love of coffee together with his software skills as well as his desire to help ex-offenders get a second chance. At first he thought perhaps he could show ex-offenders in halfway houses how to roast in their grills, but that didn’t seem like the best long-term plan. Eventually, he designed a coffee roasting machine that allows him to make coffee that is roasted at the perfect temperatures every time. 

Second Chance Coffee Company was launched in 2007 with a two-fold mission: to roast and distribute truly exceptional coffee, and to help transform the lives of post-prison people in the process. Part of Second Chance’s motto is to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

The company has grown to six full-time and one part-time worker. All the workers are paid living wages. Ex-offenders are employed in roasting, administration, marketing and accounting. Pete is the only one on staff who has not spent time in prison. Because coffee drinkers and ex-offenders looking for jobs are everywhere, Pete hopes to eventually open 72 roasting plants across the nation, working in collaboration with halfway houses.

For delicious and amazingly fresh coffee beans that serves a social mission, order online.

If you believe you are a not being treated fairly by your employer or are a victim of wage theft and are being paid unfairly, please call IWJ's Wage Theft Legal Clinic at (773) 998-1320. The hotline is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Wage Theft Clinic is located at 19 W. Jackson Blvd. at the John Marshall Law School. All messages will be answered within 24 hours.