This evening begins the Jewish holiday of Purim, which originates in the story of Esther. For those participating in the Fast for Fifteen, to fast and pray for fast food workers who are fighting for “$15 and a union,” today is a time when the Christian season of Lent and a Jewish fast for Purim coincide.

ICWJ Director Rabbi Renee Bauer has written a reflection for today on the Jewish fast for Purim, which is featured as the daily reflection for the Fast From Fast Food of Interfaith Worker Justice.

Read Rabbi Renee’s Purim Reflection

wisconsin-stop-signAre you outraged at the Wisconsin Legislature’s continued war on workers? Feeling righteous indignation about lawmaking that attacks the lower to middle class, while making life sweeter for the wealthy and corporations?

Here’s an opportunity to support an organization that has stood with low wage workers for over 15 years. ICWJ stood with workers before, during, and after the attack on public sector employees, teachers, and hospital workers in 2011. And the same is true now, in the State government’s attack on the rights of private sector workers.

The BIG Share, Tuesday March 3, is a day of giving organized by Community Shares of Wisconsin. It’s a day for member organizations like ICWJ to raise money for a specific campaign, become a stronger presence on social media, and attract new supporters to the organization.

YOU can stand with workers and with ICWJ by sharing on the day of the BIG Share. ICWJ’s goal is to raise $4,000 to fund a Living Wage Certification Program for the City of Madison. Just as important as donations on March 3, is your help in raising ICWJ’s presence on social media.

Follow us on Facebook, and share our Big Share posts.

Retweet from @WorkerJusticeWI, #TheBigWage

Share the link to ICWJ’s Big Share Donations Page

Stand in Solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Smoot_Sarah_WilcoxA Lenten Reflection on Worker Justice
By Sarah Smoot, United Methodist Missionary serving with Interfaith Worker Justice


A pastor friend of mine likes to say that fasting should be called “slowing” because time seems to slow down when you stop eating. All that time once spent in meal preparation and eating is now empty. Ideally the extra time becomes filled with prayer and recognizing one’s need of God, noticing that God provides other forms of strength and sustenance. When your stomach starts to rumble, however, it’s hard not to watch the clock and count down the minutes to the next meal.

The lenten season of fasting is a period of prayer and self examination as we remember the brokenness of humanity that brings Christ to the cross on Good Friday. Traditionally we look to Jesus’ own 40 day fast in the wilderness as an example. During this time Jesus experiences human frailty and temptation. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was tempted throughout his wilderness fast, and at the end of 40 days he endured a series of tests by the Devil. Though Jesus’ fast weakened him physically (“He was famished,” Luke 4:2), the fast also prepared him to resist the Devil’s temptations.

The Devil presents Jesus with a series of misinterpretations of scripture and who the Messiah ought to be: lies that would be easy to believe when tired and hungry. Jesus responds, however, with clarity of the truths he knows from scripture and does not succumb to the Devil’s propositions. Rather than being tired by “slowing,” Jesus is empowered to live out the humble truths to which he is called.

This year our own lenten journey can be a time of reflection on workers and worker justice. As the national office of Interfaith Worker Justice invites us to participate in a fast from fast food, let us take this period of fasting as an opportunity to see more clearly the truths behind the fast food industry:

  • As we choose not to eat fast food, may we remember that the workers’ wages afford them little choice and sometimes not enough food.
  • As we choose not to eat fast food, may we notice that every job is worthy of wages that support the worker’s wellbeing.
  • As we choose not to eat fast food, let us pray and lift our voices for change in the fast food industry, change that allows workers to organize without retaliation and achieve a living wage.

See Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director, Rudy López’s call to fast from fast food.

Lent is a Christian season of fasting and repentance leading to Jesus Christ’s Passion and Resurrection on Easter. The season lasts 40 days, a traditional number of journey and transformation, exemplified in Israel’s wilderness journey and Jesus’ fast in the desert before his earthly ministry.

Ash Wednesday  is February 18th this year and marks the beginning of Lent. It is observed by having a cross of ashes put on one’s forehead, hearing the phrase: “Remember that from dust you have come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Easter, April 5th this year (on the protestant calendar) is the end of Lent marked by celebration of the resurrection.

Logo_PMS_229-rev_typeFast for Fifteen: Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director, Rudy Lopez, invites supporters of worker justice into a fast from fast food during the season of Lent, in support of the fight for “15 and a union” for fast food workers. If you choose to join the fast, please name ICWJ as your participating organization. Here is Rudy’s message:

Across the country, fast food workers are taking courageous action to push for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. By joining with other workers across low-paying industries, they are winning concrete victories for the working poor. They are doing God’s work.

Moved by workers’ courage and perseverance, I invite you to join Interfaith Worker Justice for 40 days of prayer and personal sacrifice.  In solidarity with those forced to struggle on poverty wages, will you Fast from Fast Food from Feb. 18 until April 4?

The Fast from Fast Food coincides with the 40-day Christian season of Lent, a period of prayer, fasting, repentance and sacrifice. As a Catholic, I welcome this opportunity to connect my own tradition to the movement for worker and economic justice.

Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving this Lenten Season, I hope to deepen my spiritual connection to the struggle. In the words of Pope Francis: “Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love.”

Will you join me in this prayerful fast?  Click here to make the pledge to Fast from Fast Food. 

Fasting is one of the most transformational acts of faithful sacrifice embraced by many religious traditions and used across cultures as a powerful expression of solidarity and nonviolent action. No matter your faith tradition, I invite you to join me along this journey in a way that is authentic to you and your beliefs.

By fasting, we are telling fast food workers and their managers and corporate executives that the struggles many workers face due to inadequate pay and irregular scheduling is an injustice that we cannot accept.

Thank you for your prayerful solidarity with the fast food workers!


Rudy López
Executive Director

P.S. There are many ways you can get involved with the Fast from Fast Food in support of the workers who are organizing for better pay and working conditions. If a fast doesn’t work for you, click here to see how else you can support the fast.

Forward 15: Conversation, Celebration, Change
John Nichols, Keynote Speaker

Tues. Feb. 24, 8:00-10:00AM
Good Shepherd Parish, St. Joseph’s location
1905 West Beltline Hwy. Madison 53713

Celebrate 15 years of ICWJ
Strengthen resolve to get $15/hr for low-wage workers
Hear from keynote speaker John Nichols:

john nichols.jpgForward 15: Conversation, Celebration, Change
A look back at the faith community’s historic participation in progressive economic change;
A look forward at how to continue the fight for a fair economy for all.

John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress. Nichols writes for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of Madison’s Cap Times.

Breakfast Poster

Breakfast Sponsors

Make Your Reservation:

$25/ Seat
$30/ Seat & 1yr. membership in ICWJ

Mail checks to ICWJ: 612 W. Main St. Ste.200 Madison, WI 53703
Please include a phone or email contact for confirmation
Tickets only available through online reservation (see below)
or at the door

Or to reserve online, make your payment through our donations page
Select Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice from the drop-down menu,
And include “Breakfast” and number of seats in the comments box.

Become a Sponsor:

Sponsors will be listed on ICWJ’s website and breakfast materials.

Visionary: $1000
Organizer: $500
Bridge-Builder: $250
Activist: $100
Supporter: $50

Activist and Supporter levels include one seat at the breakfast. Visionary, Organizer, and Bridge-Builder levels include two seats at the breakfast.

To become a sponsor or for questions, email director of development, Bruce Moffat: Development@WorkerJustice.Org

By Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, Madison

There’s no getting around it. We live in dark times. The gap between the rich and poor relentlessly expands. Radical disparities take away the rights of workers. 
We live in a world that overflows with human suffering, injustice, inequality. It is difficult to work for social justice when the world around us is so bleak. We come to believe that the fight is futile, that our actions don’t matter.
But the holiday of Hanukkah suggests otherwise. It reminds us that even in dark times it is our obligation to hope, to believe in miracles, to act as if another world is possible.
On Hanukkah we retell the story of Judah Macabee, a man who refused to accept the destruction of his traditions and community. He believed that he could organize, that he could make things better. He refused to accept what was and insisted on fighting for what could be.
We honor his bravery and courage. We celebrate his stubbornness. We remember that even in the darkest times change can happen. 
Jewish tradition teaches us to believe in miracles. From the story of Hanukkah we celebrate the miracle that a small jar of oil lasted for eight days. But we also remember that there are miracles in our own world. There is the miracle of hope, of change, of love and forgiveness and community. 
In these dark times we come together to demand respect for workers and justice for the poor. May this Hanukkah inspire all of us to believe that the way things are is not the way things have to be.

Madison’s Guide to Isthmus Restaurant Employment Standards
3rd Edition Release

Do you know whether your waiter has access to health insurance and a living wage? Sick day pay? Written hourly records and employee policies, and other workplace benefits?

December 11, 2014, The Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice and the Workers’ Rights Center release the 3rd edition of the Just Dining Guide, a guide to the employment standards of 205 Downtown Madison restaurants. Through information gathered from employee and employer surveys, we are proud to bring Madison an updated guide that points out and celebrates the employers providing good jobs in Madison’s restaurant industry. This year the producers of the Guide will award certificates to 15% of the employers listed in the Guide, for their upstanding treatment of employees. ICWJ director Rabbi Renee Bauer comments, “We are lucky to have exemplary employers in our city, and we must support them.”

During this season of celebrations and festive meals, let the Just Dining Guide be a reminder that you are more than “just dining;” you are supporting jobs and workers in the Madison community. Look at Just Dining to Guide your support of good jobs in Madison restaurants.

Look for this Guide update in community centers, libraries, etc. near you.

Just Dining 2014 Update

See the full guide online, including methodology, myths of the restaurant industry, and more.

Get the updated Just Dining App Here:


Over 100 workers, together with organizers from Wisconsin Jobs Now, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Workers Rights Center, and Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, filed a complaint in compliance with a Wisconsin State law, stating that their wages at or near the minimum wage of $7.25/hour are not a living wage. Under the law, the Governor has 20 days to respond to the official complaint.

Link to Media Coverage

A prayer for workers

November 26, 2014

in Prayers

Adapted from the prayer to St. Joseph by Pope Saint John XXIII (1958-63)

Almighty God, who sent your Son Jesus Christ as a carpenter and teacher to the world, we ask that you protect and provide for Jesus’ brother and sister workers, your sons and daughters.

You know their anxieties and sufferings, as the worker Jesus experienced their sufferings. Let all workers know that their purpose comes from you their Creator. Remind all workers that in the fields, factories, mines, schools, and everywhere that they work, they do not labor, rejoice, or suffer alone, for at their side is Jesus to sustain them, dry the sweat of their brow, and give value to their labor. In Jesus’ name we ask for your guidance in valuing all workers’ hands as the hands of Jesus. Amen.

When many of us think of holiday stress we picture the rush to buy and prepare all the food for our visiting families; the cost and complications of travel to go away to family; the stress of shopping for holiday presents and the strain to our pocketbooks. You may have a roadmap already for your “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” shopping, in an attempt to alleviate post-holiday debt through the sales.

Workers in the retail, grocery, and restaurant industries have all those stresses and more; they wonder if they will even see their families on the holidays. Stores that open at midnight on Black Friday or even after Thanksgiving dinner, staying open late on Christmas Eve for those last-minute Santas, plus the higher influx of customers during this season, means longer and less predictable hours for workers, as well as tougher work on days that are set aside to be times of family gathering, vacation, and religious commitment.

Black Friday brings an opportunity to renew the effort to improve conditions for workers. Join with Walmart workers and affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice to press Walmart store managers and owners to treat their employees with dignity and respect.
Many protests and vigils will be held at Walmart stores around the United States, as concerned individuals and organizations deliver letters to store managers asking for higher wages and full-time employment for Walmart workers.

You can participate by signing and delivering  This Letter to a Walmart store near you. The letter can be tailored to your location and organization.
Mail a copy of your letter to: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Walmart Corporate Office Headquarters, 702 SW 8th St. Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

Publicize your solidarity. Use #WalmartStrikers on Black Friday to post pictures outside of the stores with signage saying “We stand with Walmart workers.”

More resources, information, and suggestions HERE


Economic Justice Film Series

Hosted by WI Faith Voices & ICWJ

Event(s) Flyer

WhyPovertySeveral Films will be shown between Oct. 16 and Dec. 10. Click the link above for venue information.

Refreshments served

Pictures & Quotes

from religious leaders who demand a living wage in Wisconsin

With Wisconsin Jobs Now, ICWJ is publishing faces and voices on the web of the growing number of people in Wisconsin who demand a higher minimum wage for just treatment of workers. ICWJ is collecting statements from religious leaders on how their faith and social witness interact in the issue of workers’ wages. Keep an eye on our page for new faces and voices in the campaign.

Rev. Breanna Dahl, Trinity United Methodist Church:

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Part of having an abundant life is having a job that pays you enough so you don’t have to stress out over paying for housing, food, insurance, etc. As a Christian, my faith calls me to work for justice so that all may have that abundant and full life that Jesus spoke of. My faith pushes me to fight for fair wages for workers in all sectors. We must raise the “minimum” wage so that it is a living wage. So that all may earn enough to care for their families and live full and abundant lives.


Raise Your Voice to Raise the Wage:

Write to

Other Voices:

Reverend Jerry Folk

Sister Isabel Rafferty

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

Pastor Amanda Stein

Pastor Ron Adams

Kelly Schaefer

Reverend Peder Johanson