Led by Interfaith Worker Justice, religious organizations and faith groups have been working hard for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
A dozen faith groups and 50 faith leaders came together March 9 at the Methodist House on Capitol Hill to reaffirm their support for the Employee Free Choice Act and to discuss the theological foundation of that support from Judaism, Catholicism, and Evangelical Christianity.
Rev. Adam Taylor of Sojourners quoted liberally from both the Old and New Testaments including Isaiah 58, Jeremiah 22 and St. Luke to make the point that God commands the faithful to fight poverty and inequality. He went on to say that in a society and economy as unequal as ours, organizing unions and restoring collective bargaining is one of the most important ways to fight poverty and inequality.
Citing the Papal Novarum, now 150 years old, Dr. Joseph McCartin said that Catholic teaching has long held that forming unions and protecting workers rights are essential to democracy and to the work of Catholicism in the public arena. Dr. McCartin is a professor of history and a founding member of Catholic Scholars for Workers Rights. They are circulating a statement supporting the Employee Free Choice Act at Catholic colleges and universities.
Renaye Manley of Interfaith Worker Justice moderated the meeting. IWJ's founder, Kim Bobo, reminded all that "All faith traditions teach that workers should be treated with respect and dignity and paid fairly. Unions serve vital roles in ensuring workers' just treatment and pay, which is why Interfaith Worker Justice supports the Employee Free Choice Act. In this time of economic crisis, workers need a voice in the future of their companies that comes through collective bargaining. "
Rev. Baldemar Velasquez, founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and ordained Pentecostal minister, was one of the last speakers. Although farmworers are not covered by federal labor law, he told of organizing 7000 farmworkers in North Carolina and thousands more in Ohio and across the midwest using majority signup.
Today, March 10, Rev. Jim Wallis, America's best known Evangelical preacher, author and founder of Sojourners, will testify for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act before the US Senate Labor Committee. Following that hearing, the Employee Free Choice Act will be formally introduced in the Congress by Senators Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller.