Labor Day Programs to Focus on Wage Theft

For the past 8 years, congregations around the DC metropolitan area, and around the country, have been participated in Labor in the Pulpit, Labor on the Bimah, Labor on the Minbar program as a way of remembering God’s call to pursue justice, honoring people’s labor and recalling the religious traditions that dignify and celebrate work. rnrnThis year’s theme, “Justice and Work in Times of Crisis,” will raise up the impact of the economic crisis on workers in out region, with a special focus on victims of stolen wages and on unemployment.rnrnCongregations can participate by inviting a worker or labor leader to speak during or after services, by holding a special discussion program, or simply by offering special prayers to raise up workers in our community. rnrnInterfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington and Jews United for Justice, who co-coordinate the program, provide resource packets that include scripture, denominational statements on worker justice, sample presentations, prayers, and bulletin/newsletter inserts. rnrn Sign-up on-line!rnrnFor more info about the program, contact Jonathan Wiens at jwien(at)dclabor.org or...

Justice in Times of Crisis

Local faith leaders gathered at Israel Baptist Church Tuesday for an Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington seminar focused on helping congregations support members of their communities impacted by the economic crisis. The 15 participants shared experiences of how the economic downturn is impacting their congregations, and discussed ideas for responding, such as forming support groups, using the congregation website to share job opportunities, and expanding services to the community. rnrnThe seminar also included a tutorial what laid off workers should know about accessing unemployment benefits, provided by Courtney Chappell of the DC Employment Justice Center. Ramon Zepeda of DC Jobs with Justice also explained the recourse available to workers’ who suspect they are being cheated by employers. Participants walked away with armed with contacts for emergency assistance, legal resource referrals, and a Congregational Toolkit published by Interfaith Worker Justice....

JUFJ Takes Again on Wage Theft

“No matter what has happened in the past, from this day forward we are here to help,” promised Mohammad Sheikh, Assistant Director for Labor Standards at DC’s Department of Employment Services. Sheikh was responding to Jews United for Justice’s action last Friday, when members of JUFJ, along with day laborers from the Union de Trabajadores and organizers from DC Jobs with Justice and OPEIU Local 2 descended on the DC Office of Wage and Hour to demand better protection of workers who are robbed of their wages by employers. rnrnAs the nine-person delegation crowded into their offices, Wage and Hour staff responded quickly. Mohammad R. Sheikh (center), Assistant Director for Labor Standards at the Department of Employment Services, and Pam Banks, Director of the Office of Wage and Hour, came out to meet the group within minutes, ushering them into a conference room for an impromptu meeting. After listening to the group’s concerns, and being presented with more than 130 letters urging the Office of Wage and Hour to use all the tools at their disposal to enforce the rights of workers, Sheikh pledged his support and made a verbal commitment to meet several key demands, including instructing staff to use a wider range of tools in their investigations, giving workers more frequent updates on their cases, and forwarding some cases to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution. rnrnThe action came two weeks after JUFJ highlighted the issues of day laborers during their annual Labor Seder. Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington has also announced that wage theft will be the theme of this year’s Labor in the Pulpit...

Faith in Action: Labor Day Programs reach more then 50 congregations in the DC area!

During Labor Day weekend and throughout September, more than 50 congregations from diverse Jewish, Christian, and Unitarian traditions will honor workers and call for justice during special services and programs. The Labor in the Pulpits and Labor on the Bimah programs are jointly organized by Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington and Jews United for Justice. rnrnProgram highlights this year include a talk by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville; a discussion at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC about the situation of immigrant workers at the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, in Postville, IA; and a fellowship lunch at Foundry UMC featuring theater and film highlighting the congregation’s day labor ministry.rn rnA full schedule of Labor in the Pulpits and Labor on the Bimah programs is available here.rnrnParticipating congregations include:rnAdas Israel Congregation, Adat Reyim Congregation, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, All Soul’s Unitarian Church, Am Kolel Havurah, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Beth Sholom Temple, Bethesda Jewish Congregation, B’nai Israel Congregation, Christ Lutheran Church, Church of the Pilgrims Presbyterian, Congregation Bet Mishpachah, Congregation Beth Emeth, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Congregation Etz Hayim, Covenant Baptist Church, DC Minyan, Fabrangen, First Trinity Lutheran Church, Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Foundry UMC, Grace Episcopal Church, Kehillat Shalom, MACHAR: The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism, McKendree-Simms Brookland UMC, Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Oseh Shalom, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Second Baptist Church, Shaare Tefila Congregation, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St. David’s Episcopal Parish, St....

Interfaith Dialogue Focuses on Caregivers

This year’s Labor in the Pulpits and Labor on the Bimah program kicked-off at the DC Jewish Community Center on Tuesday night with an Interfaith Dialogue on Workers’ Rights, during which four panelists representing the Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim faiths discussed the topic of “caring for caregivers.” The event featured comments by a series of followed by small group text discussions. rnrnPanelists included Rev. Noemi Mena, pastor for Hispanic Ministry at National City Christian Church in Downtown DC; Dr. Soval Tun, President of the Cambodian Buddhist Society in Silver Spring; Rabbi Greg Harris, associate rabbi at Congregation Beth-El in Bethesda; and Sister Asma Hanif, Executive Director of Muslimat Al-Nisaa, INC, a health, & shelter organization providing culturally sensitive services and programs for Muslim women and children. rnrnSmall group discussions after the panel used texts from each tradition as a starting point for discussing the treatment of workers in our communities. rnrnThe evening ended with a call to action to support workers at ManorCare nursing home facilities in Maryland and Virginia. Jews United for Justice, which organized the event with Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington, has been working with SEIU to educate the community about the undignified conditions suffered by staff in ManorCare facilities. ManorCare, the largest nursing home chain in the country, was recently bought out by the Carlyle Group – and working conditions for nursing home staff have deteriorated as a...