Every election is an opportunity for people of faith to reaffirm their commitment to values that respect the dignity and sanctity of life. In November, in Illinois, we have a historic opportunity to recognize the deep-rooted link between faith and workers’ justice. The Workers’ Rights Amendment will be at the top of your ballot.
The dignity of work is at the heart of all faith traditions. Passages in the Quran, the Torah and the Bible are all about the dignity of work, justice with fair pay and respect for all who work. Scripture tells us that oppression by workers is an attack on the holiness and dignity that every human being deserves.
We must not let those words sound hollow. It is important to live our values.
For years we have lived our faith by protecting working people and advocating for working families. Workers are at the center of our fight for equality, human rights and racial justice. From the introduction of the 40-hour work week to the end of child labor to raising the minimum wage to lift more families out of poverty, our faith traditions have always been intrinsically linked to the labor justice movement.
In recent years, we’ve seen the stress workers endured during the pandemic and the tumultuous conditions it caused. Nurses and first responders were confronted with unprecedented working conditions. Many were exhausted at the end of a working day, yet kept their commitment every day to do the essential work that benefited us all.
The Workers’ Rights Amendment will guarantee that they can negotiate life-saving protective equipment and safe personnel without fear of retaliation from their employers, so they can focus on what really matters: their patients and, of course, their families.
Every Illinoisan deserves the right to bargain for fair wages and access to the benefits and opportunities that help families thrive. Working people earn a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and union workers in Illinois earn an average of $11,000 more per year than workers in states that don’t support workers’ rights.
This is a transformative amount for working families. It helps them afford the things that are important to them, a safe and comfortable home for their family, and other things that support healthy family life, including time to spend with their family. From eating out with their kids for a kid’s birthday to watching a movie after a weekend shift – when working families do better, so does the community they call home.
As religious leaders, we know our communities. We know their struggles and successes, their tragedies and triumphs. And we know that working people earn more than the bare minimum it takes to make ends meet. Our congregations and our communities are stronger when we honor our collective commitment to a lived faith on behalf of our families and our neighbors in the greater community in which we live and worship.
This election season, your vote is important to honor our workers and their families. That’s why we vote yes to the Workers’ Rights Amendment.
Father Larry Dowling is the pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church; Imam Tariq I. El-Amin is Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa; and Rabbi Bruce Elder is a leader of the Hakafa congregation.
The views and opinions of employees are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chicago Sun-Times or any of its affiliates.
The Sun-Times welcomes letters to the editor and opinion pieces. See our guidelines.