Fifty local faith congregations celebrated Labor Day by inviting area workers to speak during weekly worship services about their working conditions and organizing efforts. The event, Labor in the Pulpits, was organized by Interfaith Worker Justice of Maryland as part of the annual Labor in the Pulpits/on the Bimah/in the Minbar program hosted by national worker rights organization, Interfaith Worker Justice, and its network of over 70 affiliates.
"My congregation—as are all congregations—is made up of workers,” said the Rev. Ty Hullinger of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Baltimore. “They want and deserve to hear about how their faith connects with worker justice issues and what we teach and believe about the dignity of every human person.”
Many of those who spoke this weekend are employees at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and have, since January, been organizing for a workers’ Bill of Rights that would guarantee full-time work, fair wages and benefits, job security and the right to form a union in a neutral environment. They are heartened by the growing community awareness and support for their efforts.
“It is such an honor to have the opportunity to speak with all of these congregations,” said Matt Mullins, a Baltimore City resident and former employee at Silver Diner in the airport. “We’re working hard to win our Bill of Rights at BWI because even though my coworkers and I work hard every day, most of the time we don’t earn enough to support ourselves and our families. Being here is just another reminder to stay strong, because we have the support of our communities behind us.”
Worker organizing at BWI is part of the Maryland Campaign for Fair Development, which works to ensure that companies that enjoy public economic aid provide decent living wage jobs for Maryland residents.
Organizations leading the campaign include UNITE HERE Local 7, United Workers and numerous area faith congregations.
"Our faith traditions call on us to work for justice for all people, especially those being exploited,” said Deacon Ed Munro of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, “Workers have a right to be treated justly.”
Cohorst is the spokeswoman for UNITE HERE Local 7 in Baltimore.