AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka has announced that his union is starting a new campaign using "1,000 congregation-based unemployed worker support committees" to offer support to the unemployed and advocate for jobs.
"The campaign will help combat the severe unemployment crisis that is devastating so many working people and families and help rebuild the foundations of our nation’s economy," Trumka announced in a statement.
"[F]aith groups, political leaders and progressive activists have come together in the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign, which was launched this week at a Capitol Hill meeting," Trumka added. "The campaign will help combat the severe unemployment crisis that is devastating so many working people and families and help rebuild the foundations of our nation’s economy."
The campaign's mission statement, however, reads like a progressive jobs manifesto. "As people of faith, we call for an economy that provides a job for everyone who wants and needs one," Trumka quotes it as saying. "We affirm that all jobs should be good jobs, paying living wages and benefits, allowing workers dignity and a voice at the workplace, ensuring workers’ health and safety, and guaranteeing their right to organize unions."
The group Tumka says will oversee the initiative, Interfaith Worker Justice, also doesn't shy away from progressive talk.
In a video posted on its website, the group decries "wage theft," which it describes as workers being underpaid, not paid for overtime, or being misclassified:
The group's website also details a Labor Day weekend campaign where it encouraged pastors and laypeople to invite labor leaders to speak at churches in honor of the holiday.
"Celebrate the sacred link between faith, work, and justice. Invite a union member or labor leader to be a guest speaker on Labor Day weekend, or focus your Labor Day weekend service on worker justice issues," the group's site encouraged.
In regards to Trumpka's new campaign, the group calls unemployment "the most damaging social crisis of our lifetimes."
"Our religious traditions teach us that work is a sacred act," it says, "that when we labor we are 'God's hands' on earth. Those who work and those who cannot work must be treated fairly."
It then goes on to use the Bible (Jeremiah 22:13) to justify its stance: "Woe to him who builds his house on unrighteousness, and his upper room by injustice, who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages."
The group's other work includes campaigns to unionize the TSA and Wal-Mart and to force the latter to raise wages.