Interfaith Worker Justice of Maryland is IWJ’s newest affiliate in Baltimore working to bring together faith, labor and community leaders to raise awareness around issues of the working poor and to support low-wage workers in their struggles for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Tiffany Heath and Julia Malette are seasoned organizers, committed to working with low-wage and immigrant workers in Baltimore. Malette worked with IWJ groups both in Michigan and Florida. When she moved to Maryland four years ago, she noticed a lack of faith community presence in most labor campaigns. She felt it was a good community to form a Maryland-based interfaith group.
Malette wasn’t alone.
Heath served on the board of IWJ’s national board of directors as a representative for Church Women United where she worked as policy director until she returned to Maryland.
“Upon my return seven years ago, I noticed there were several issues that could utilize the experience, knowledge and commitment to justice of the faith community. There was a need to expand and incorporate additional members of the faith community in campaigns with labor and community groups,” Heath said.
That’s exactly what IWJ-Maryland is working to do today.
IWJ-Maryland officially launched on May 1, focusing on improving the job market in Baltimore. The group will work on the Baltimore Washington International Airport campaign.
Heath and Malette are looking forward to working with a seminary intern this summer to support the workers affected at BWI airport in Maryland. The team plans to work on other issues like the Dream Act in Maryland—helping to maintain the state law.
As an interfaith organization, the team observes to the IWJ slogan All Religions Believe in Justice and understands the ideas of dignity, equality and fairness apply to everyone.
Five years from now, Julia says she foresees IWJ-Maryland establishing itself as a strong presence in the community as very diverse group of congregations involved in labor campaigns. She hopes the organization will continue to provide space for dialogue and collective action.
With passion and dedication of the founders and steering committee, the future of IWJ of Maryland certainly looks bright.