(Use quick links on left to go directly to Labor Day resources for worship & sermon preparation.)
Out of anger at the passage of Act 10 in March of 2011, and the resulting dismantling of collective bargaining rights of public sector workers in Wisconsin, a recall movement began to unseat Governor Scott Walker. In June 2012, this attempt failed. This was a blow to the movement for workers’ rights and the labor movement in general in Wisconsin. While religious institutions do not support particular candidates, religious leaders are free to apply the social teachings of our churches/synagogues/mosques, etc. to current political realities. Labor Day 2012 is an opportunity for religious leaders to take a step back from the divisiveness we’ve experienced in our state over these issues. I suggest that our prophetic voice could best be heard right now in offering a historical perspective on why it is important that we continue to support collective bargaining rights, worker justice and economic equality.
Religious leaders in the Methodist, Reformed and Lutheran traditions will find resources to do just that here. Leaders in other faith traditions are invited to contact their own offices of social responsibility for information that will educate their members (and the public at large) about the historical foundations of their social teachings on the rights of workers and caring for “the least of these”. Faith specific materials can also be found at http://www.iwj.org/resources/
In addition to including materials in sermons and liturgy, one simple way for faith communities of all kinds to observe Labor Day would be to invite people to share the first job experience they ever had and what they learned from it during a fellowship time after worship on August 31, September 1 or 2nd. It would also be appropriate to take a special collection for worker justice that can be donated to ICWJ at 2300 South Park Street #115, Madison, WI 53713.
I am grateful to Rev. Mark Yurs of Salem United Church of Christ in Verona, Rev. Phil Haslanger of Memorial United Church of Christ in Fitchburg, and
Rev. Neal Christie of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. for their help in making these resources available.
Please let ICWJ know by emailing Rabbi Renee Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org if and how you use these materials. Do not hesitate to contact Rabbi Bauer with questions about these materials.
Board Member, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, South Central Wisconsin
Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church in Madison