Dignity of work is essential to our faith traditions. We support the Workers’ Rights Amendment.


Chicago nurse Debresha Anderson speaks at a press conference about the workers’ rights amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot at the Chicago Federation of Labor on Oct. 24.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Every election is an opportunity for people of faith to reaffirm their commitment to the values that respect the dignity and sanctity of life. This November, we in Illinois have a historic opportunity to recognize the deeply ingrained link between faith and worker justice. The Workers’ Rights Amendment will be at the very top of your ballot.

The dignity of work is at the core of all faith traditions. Passages in the Quran, Torah and Bible all discuss the dignity of work, justice in fair payment and respect for all who work. Scripture tells us that worker oppression is an assault on the sacredness and dignity every human being deserves.

We must not let those words ring hollow. It is important to live out our values.

For years, we have lived our faith by protecting working people and advocating for working families. Workers have been at the center of our fights for equality, human rights and racial justice. From the creation 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 tied to the labor justice movement.

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Over the last few years, we’ve seen the stress workers endured during the pandemic and the tumultuous circumstances it created. Nurses and first responders faced unprecedented working conditions. Many were exhausted at the end of a workday yet still honored their commitment each day to do the essential work from which we all benefited.

The Workers’ RIghts Amendment will guarantee they can negotiate for life-saving protective equipment and safe staffing levels without any fear of retaliation from their employers, so they can focus on what truly matters: their patients and, of course, their families.

Every Illinoisan deserves the right to negotiate for a fair wage and access to the benefits and opportunities that help families flourish. Working people deserve an honest wage for an honest day’s work, and union workers in Illinois make an average of $11,000 per year more than workers in states that do not support workers’ rights.

This is a transformational amount of money for working families. It helps them afford the things that matter to them, providing a safe and comfortable home for their families and other things that support a healthy family life, including time to spend with their family. From taking their kids to dinner for a child’s birthday to attending a movie after a weekend service — 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 working people deserve 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’re voting yes for the Workers’ Rights Amendment.

Father Larry Dowling is the pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church; Imām Tariq I. El-Amin is Resident Imām of Masjid Al-Taqwa; and Rabbi Bruce Elder is a leader of Congregation Hakafa.

The views and opinions expressed by contributors 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 op-eds. See our guidelines.

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October 29, 2022 at 04:15AM

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