Joy for all the People

The Rev. Michael Livingston |

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.

candlesThe 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.