All of us at the Gamaliel Foundation—lay and religious leaders alike—stand with the tens of thousands of workers in Wisconsin who are fighting for the right to collective bargaining. The dignity of work and the rights of workers are sacred things. Our community organizing work at Gamaliel begins and ends in the faith and values of our members, and all of our diverse faith traditions call on us to treat workers fairly. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops wrote in 1986: “No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself. Therefore, we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably now seen in this country, to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing.”
Our budgets express our values and priorities as a society. As people of faith, we at Gamaliel are deeply concerned that Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill is an attack not only on the rights of workers, but on the rights of the most vulnerable Wisconsinites through cuts to Medicaid and BadgerCare. All of us in America are facing difficult economic times. But as we all share in the suffering, we must all share in the sacrifice—including the business community and the wealthy. The Wisconsin Legislature has already passed over $100 million in tax cuts for corporations, as well as tax cuts for health savings accounts that are primarily used by the wealthy. At the same time, Gov. Walker wants middle-class public sector employees to give up the equivalent of thousands of dollars in take-home pay.
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.—an unwavering supporter of organized labor—said: "Our struggle each day is to achieve the American Dream." This is our struggle at the Gamaliel Foundation as well. The American Dream depends on the ability of workers to stand up for their rights through collective bargaining, especially in times of economic crisis. Our faith demands no less. We will stand with our statewide Wisconsin affiliate WISDOM, its member organizations, and all Wisconsin workers until their rights have been won.
Stephen Boykewich, Gamaliel Media Consultant – firstname.lastname@example.org, 917.686.2426, Creative Commons Photo Credit Peter Gorman