Nearly one year after his historic election, the credibility of President Joe Biden’s central campaign promise to “Build Back Better” rests in the passage of his landmark legislative packages. Among these bills is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which will strengthen and expand the right of workers to form unions, bargain collectively, and would stand as the most significant workers’ rights law implemented in nearly 90 years. At a time when working people nationwide are facing unprecedented workplace safety hazards, wage stagnation, and growing inequality, we must put aside partisanship to support one another in life, in health, and at work.
That is why this week, the Arizona Faith Network – which represents over 4,000 individuals, faith leaders, faith communities, community leaders, and judicatory leaders – announced our support for the PRO Act. Our steadfast support of this legislation is not a result of political preference, but a moral obligation.
Our faiths tell us that God, as understood in each of our faith traditions, is concerned with the well-being of all persons and calls us to stand up to injustice. Today, one of the clearest examples of widespread injustice is income inequality. While the average worker salary has doubled since 1978, CEO compensation has risen by an astounding 1,322 percent in that same time. As of 2020, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 351-to-1, compared to 21-1 in 1965.
The contrast in pay is even starker for BIPOC women. At the current rates, Black women must work an extra 214 days to catch up with what white, non-Hispanic men made in 2020 alone. Meanwhile, Latina women will not reach equal pay with white, non-Hispanic men for another 185 years, or until 2206.
Deeply rooted inequality is not easily remedied, but the path forward is clear: We must empower workers to form unions, bargain collectively, and engage in collective action without fear of retaliation by their employers. That is why passing the PRO Act is one of the most important things we can do in this generation to make our country more equitable.
In my faith tradition, we are called to live within the sacred covenant and boundaries of the Scriptures, which clearly outline the importance of treating workers with dignity. Matthew 20:1-6 calls us to pay a just and living wage. In Luke 3:10-14, we are called to practice integrity in our work. In Genesis 2:1-3, we are asked to learn to rest on our respective sabbath. In Deuteronomy 5:13-15, we are taught that ALL are allowed to rest from work. And in Jeremiah 22:13, we remember that “Woe to the person who treats their worker unjustly.”
As people of faith, we believe that our country must honor the sacred worth and dignity of every worker, no matter their background or belief system. Now, it’s time for leaders in Washington to do what’s right and pass the PRO Act.
Reverend Katie Sexton-Wood
Arizona Faith Network