The United States faces a deepening crisis of working poverty. More and more often, even families working multiple jobs are unable to make ends meet. In recent years, a new movement has emerged of religious leaders and faith communities standing in solidarity with these working poor.
All major religious traditions share a belief in the sacred worth of every human being and the dignity of work. Inspired by our faith, we believe that each person must have basic human rights in the workplace—including the right to fair wages, the right to organize, and the right to other benefits sufficient to sustain productive lives.
Drawing on these core values, interfaith organizations in recent years have united people from diverse religious traditions to lead innovative efforts reducing working poverty. Moving beyond meeting the immediate needs for food and shelter, churches and faith communities are confronting the root causes of poverty. In the tradition of Reverend Martin Luther King, standing with striking sanitation workers, and California’s religious communities that embraced the struggle of the United Farm Workers, this growing national movement has helped revive a long historic tradition of labor and religious cooperation.
Embracing a common agenda of good jobs and healthy communities, alliances between labor unions, people of faith, and communities have great potential to reverse economic injustice. By building public awareness of the link between quality jobs and quality of life, we help to create a political climate that promotes workers’ rights and community benefits.
Building upon a shared commitment between faith communities and the
labor movement to human dignity and the sanctity of work, EBASE
sponsors two interfaith organizations that stand in solidarity with
workers in their struggles: the East Bay Interfaith Committee for
Worker Justice (ICWJ) and Seminarians for Worker Justice (SWJ). These
organizations mobilize faith communities to support the right of
workers to organize and advocate for policies that lift low-income
families out of poverty. The interfaith committees employ the power
and moral authority of clergy and lay leaders to advance economic
justice and forge lasting partnerships among labor, low-wage workers,
and people of faith in the East Bay.