Labor Day and Beyond

Congress and President Cleveland designated Labor Day as a federal holiday—a day meant to honor and support labor after 250,000 workers in 27 states joined forces with the Pullman Company workers who were striking because their wages had been cut, but their rent in company-owned housing was not.

At our recent UUA General Assembly 2021 UUJEC’s Action of Immediate Witness “The Pandemic: A Religious Response” , which speaks for justice for all Americans, was approved. In the United States, major holidays are often exploited by capitalism. It’s possible to liberate and reshape holidays like Labor Day. Even a small fellowship, with limited resources, can send a holiday message that will do some good.

The Interfaith Worker Justice, the Poor People’s Campaign and the Southern Workers Assembly are ready to help our congregations celebrate and support labor. A great place to start in assessing your congregation’s support for workers rights is with your purchasing habits. Does your Coffee Hour use Equal Exchange Products (or other fair-trade products)?

Resources for a Sunday Services and Beyond

The Sunday before Labor Day is “Labor Sunday” in the United States.  Some speakers focus their attention on the past, and there’s much that needs to be said about labor history.  Board Member Rev. Judy Deutsch offers this sermon, Giving Labor Its Due, for discussion and reflection.

There’s also a compelling need to look at the present crisis. In 2022, an effort led by UU Democratic Socialists and helped by UUJEC Board Member Rev. Robert Murphy called on the UUA to support labor though our Action of Immediate Witness. You can view the AIW draft Labor Support here.

Music Resources for Labor Day

Using songs and stories to celebrate working people and to call attention to their experiences and concerns is one way to celebrate Labor Day. In the United States, major holidays are exploited by capitalism but it’s possible to liberate and reshape holidays like Labor Day within our congregations. Even a small fellowship, with limited resources, can send a holiday message that will do some good. Here are some great examples of music to use.

Video Resources for Labor Day

Faith communities can work in solidarity with workers centers and unions to advance our common struggle for dignity and equality.  We have partnered with several workers rights organizations to host webinars about how to be engaged on the issues. You can share our webinars with your congregation and take actions that have an impact.

One example: UUJEC Secretary Kit Marlowe delivered this sermon at the UU Congregation of the South Jersey Shore on Labor Sunday 2023.

Worker – Justice Resources

PRO Act: Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2023

PRO Act Support letter to U.S. Senators from Interreligious Council

34 Quotes From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Labor and Leadership

UUJEC Supports Starbucks Workers (and others)

UUJEC letter of solidarity with unions.

UUJEC endorses the Writers’ Guild strike in 2023

Why are UUs and Unions great partners?

EPI Report: The enormous impact of eroded collective bargaining on wages.

Recommended Books

They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions by Bill Fletcher, Jr.  Reviewed here by Rachel Bennett Steury UUJEC Administrator.

Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, & the Revival of the Labor Movement by Jonathan Rosenblum. Reviewed here by Terry Lowman UUJEC Co-Chair.