IF JESUS HAD been in Bessemer, Ala., he would have stood with the workers who tried and failed to organize the Amazon distribution center there.
That was the firm conviction of Joshua Brewer, a lead organizer for the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “It’s everything we’re told to do—to look out for our brothers and sisters in need, that a [person] should be paid for an honest day’s work an honest day’s wage, that we need to look out for the immigrant, that we need to look out for the widows and the children and the orphans, and we need to look out for each other,” Brewer told the Alabama Political Reporter in the heat of the campaign.
Brewer was hardly alone in his belief that the Bible offered clear sanction for RWDSU’s fight. On-the-ground reporting underscored that organizing meetings began with prayer, and that an instinctively pro-labor faith steeled many of those who participated in the campaign. In longer historical perspective, none of this is surprising. From the beginning, many workers who powered the labor movement did so with the confidence that Jesus, a lowly carpenter, had their backs.