; charset=UTF-8" /> CLUE-LA Memo to Grocery Chains : Connecting Voices
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CLUE-LA Memo to Grocery Chains

CLUE-LA has sent a letter to Ralph’s, Von’s, and Albertsons with the signatures of over 20 high-level judicatory leaders (bishops, Jewish and Christian leaders),  including SCNC UCC Conference Minister Felix Villanueva, demanding the managers stop stalling talks, come to the bargaining table and make resonable offers to workers.  (CLUE-LA, founded in 1996, is one of the oldest interfaith worker justice organizations in the country).  The letter reads as follows:

May, 2011

Dear Grocery Store Business Leaders,

As religious authorities representing a wide array of traditions embracing millions of Angelenos, in light of the hardship potentially imposed upon both workers and management by a strike, we ask that you reach a just and fair agreement with the union at the earliest possible time. We ask that this agreement take into consideration the needs of the workers, who work hard to provide high quality service found in each grocery store while simultaneously ensuring the wellbeing of their families.

We make this request through the lens of an overwhelming demand for just treatment of workers in all of our traditions. From its earliest stages, the religious traditions of God’s people have been concerned with the relationship between employees and employers. Just as employers have certain obligations and responsibilities toward workers in their employ, so too do employees have obligations and responsibilities towards those for whom they work. Workers, for example, are required to be honest and responsible in their employment, and must avoid activities that would prevent them from doing their jobs well.

But the word of God also says, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger… You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets… else he will cry to God against you and you will incur guilt.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-25). Leviticus 19 states, “The wages of a laborer shall not remain with you until morning.” Clearly, Jewish and Christian sacred texts are adamant that employers must treat workers justly. This was not only seen as an ideal, but actually as the legal requirement for employers.

In the Jewish tradition, religious authorities deepened and expanded the legal and ethical obligations found in the Hebrew Bible, adding, for instance, the requirement of paying workers a living wage. In contemporary times, rabbinic authorities have used these discussions to ground the right to organize for better wages and benefits. Unions are recognized by rabbinic authorities as the collective will of workers.

Jesus began his ministry with a reading from the prophet Isaiah that says: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:14-22). Jesus understood his ministry to be in concert with the prophetic teachings on economic justice that came before him. The earliest Christian communities came together to “provide for those who had need.” (Acts 2:45). They
provided for widows, abandoned children, and those whose basic needs were not being met.

Muslim sources, too, ensure the right of workers to ethical treatment. The Quran teaches, “Be just even if it be against yourselves” (3:135). The Prophet Muhammad taught, “pay the worker his due (all fair and just rights) even before his sweat dries.”

In our own times, the mandate for justice is rooted in the voice of the Prophetic tradition, including the echoes of Amos, “Let justice flow like waters, righteousness a mighty stream” (5: 24), and Micah’s restatement of divine will that we “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly” with him (6:8). Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the struggle for both civil rights and
economic justice. In the words of Rabbi Heschel “We are God’s stake in human history.”

For all these reasons and more, from multiple faith traditions, our religious principles require us to urge you, the business leaders in our community, to come to a fair and equitable settlement with the workers as represented by their union. We are aware that these workers have already voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike, but we ask that you avoid this strike from being necessary by engaging in honest and just
negotiations. As the religious community, we stand in solidarity with workers and will respect the choices they make.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, CLUE-LA                                                                              

Shakeel Syed, Board Chair, CLUE-LA; Executive Director, Islamic Shura Council

Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations-California

Rev. Cedrick Bridgeforth, District Superintendent – Los Angeles, Cal-Pac Conference, United Methodist Church

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Diocese Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Rev. N. Adiel A. Depano, Pasadena District Superintendent, California-Pacific Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church

Archbishop Hovnan Drederian, Primate, Western Diocese, Armenian Church of North America

Imam Muhammad Ibn Faqih, Islamic Institute of Orange County, Anaheim

Imam Taha Hassane, Islamic Center of San Diego

Dr. Maher Hathout, Chairman, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

Rabbi Alan Henkin, Union Rabbi, West District, Union for Reform Judaism

Rev. Thomas C. Hill III, Director of Connections & Justice California-Pacific Annual Conference , The United Methodist Church

Bishop Charles WesleyJordan, Bishop-in-Residence, Claremont School of Theology

Rabbi Yoel Kahn, PresidentPacific Association of Reform Rabbis

Bishop Dean Wesley Nelson, Bishop of the Southwest California Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Imam Mustafa Omar, Islamic Society of Corona

Bishop Beverly J. Shamana, California-Nevada Conference, The United Methodist Church

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Religious Director, Islamic Society of Orange County

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, California-Pacific Conference, The United Methodist Church

Rev. Felix Villanueva, United Church of Christ Conference Minister, Southern California Nevada Conference, UCC

The Very Rev Fr Dajad Yardemian Vicar General, Western Diocese, Armenian Church of North America

Bishop Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop, San Gabriel Pastoral Region, Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles

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