Rev. Rich Lang
Getting Walmart to roll back unfair treatment of its workers could move equality forward
This Labor Day many churches will lift up the sacred value of work. Unfortunately very few of those churches will highlight that in this age of surplus workers and hollowed-out unions, employment has become agonizing. We live in a culture run by pharaohs who continually order their slaves — labor force — to make bricks without straw. We live in a time when those who govern the engines of commerce pour contempt on those who toil away producing profit for the few.
Mary Watkines is one of those who live a disrespected life. She has joined others to form OUR Walmart and will be part of a Sept. 5 action that supports workers at the Renton Walmart. She is a woman of Christian faith who has been taught that all human beings carry God’s image within them. She is also someone modern-day pharaohs crush and force into economic slavery.
All Mary wants is to be respected. She wants to be able to enjoy freedom of speech and association without being intimidated or fired by the boss. She wants to make at least $13 an hour and have the opportunity to move up into full-time work. She wants a consistent, dependable schedule so that she can organize a life outside the whim of her employer. She wants to be part of an economic system that doesn’t force workers to depend on government assistance so they can make it through life’s ups and downs.
Mary, like Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer before her, is “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She is rising up and speaking out about the injustices of the current economy that reward a few with opulence and punish the majority with increasing squalor. Like Hamer, Mary is driven by her faith. A faith that believes that 1.4 million Walmart employees have the potential to live decent lives. A faith that believes that Walmart can still make a profit even if its employees profit. A faith that the spirit of God invests workers with the courage and creativity to resist oppression and perhaps even to overthrow the pharaohs who brutalize them, their families and communities.
As consumers we can practice solidarity with heroes like Mary through lifting our voices to demand respect and honor for employees. We can join heroes like Mary in Renton Sept. 5 at
11 a.m. to show that 1.4 million employees are supported by 10 million shoppers. We can offer our time, talent and treasure — that means financial resources — in this move toward justice knowing that if Walmart changes its policies, others will follow.
Want to get involved? Go to forrespect.org.
Freedom begins with our desire for it, and desire for it begins with our insistence on respect. This Labor Day let us begin again to remake the world.
CommentsHi Rich, Good job sticking up for the working poor. You know as long as you got a bottle of perfume that cost the same as a year of a man’s work, you’re going to have poor people. You know, throw your burdens all away. Get rid of all that stuff, and the systems that go with it. I died and went to Portland. I had no idea such a place still existed. I'm doing better in every way. We don't have money here. We have community. And people who live their values. And Hillsboro is even better. Sorry Rich. I'm not trying to be mean but Seattle is a whore on stilts with a whip. Our homeless are sprawled out all over town. And for it Portlanders still have souls. And Washington Co still has vast farm land and wetlands. It's because of our awesome light rail and urban planning. With consistency Portlanders have treated me with kindness. It causes me to give back. And as a result we have grass roots politics that blow me away. NO FLOURIDE,means NO FLOURIDE. Portland has spoken as ONE get out of OUR city. Not we don't want that tunnel. To bad the Seattle will do as she pleases. Nickelsville didn't fail, Seattle did, again. Peace out Michelle
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