In a tactic that labor and religion experts say is a growing phenomenon, two dozen Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Jewish, Presbyterian, and Lutheran clerics joined the country’s largest labor dispute and the longest supermarket strike in state history. ‘It is the poorest and the downtrodden who need our voice, so we are taking an active stand on their behalf,’ says Rabbi Steven Jacobs, one of the participants in the cross-California ‘justice pilgrimage.’
Along with 50 grocery-store workers, the clerics boarded a bus for an eight-hour, multistop journey to the East Bay home of Safeway CEO Steve Burd. Once there, they joined a contingent of 200 protesters and marched to Mr. Burd’s palatial estate, where they delivered 10,000 letters appealing to him to resume negotiations in the deadlocked strike.
‘After several decades of moving off the national radar, America’s religious leaders are taking their heads out of the sand and restoring some of the tactics that helped build the great unions in the first place,’ says Rick Fantasia, a professor of sociology at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.”