June 2022 Full Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Thank you for being a member of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. You are integral to the struggle for dignity, justice, and fair work!

If you read nothing else, read this:

  • Meet the Young Religious Leaders Fellowship (YRLF) 2022 Cohort! Learn more about this year’s YRLF cohort members, and please help us welcome them. [read more]
  • Victory for Cedars-Sinai workers! After a weeklong strike supported by the clergy and lay leaders of CLUE, a new contract has been won! [read more]
  • Interfaith Vigil to Honor the Victims of the Buffalo, Laguna, and Uvalde mass shootings, denounce the evils of gun violence, and call for gun reform! [read more]
  • Supporting Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). CLUE faith leaders join our partners and CNAs across California in their fight for better wages and more. [read more]
  • Terranea Hotel Workers Achieve a Huge Victory in their courageous fight against The Terranea Resort. Terranea has to pay $1.5 million to 57 workers now! [read more]
  • CLUE takes part in Memorial in Irvine, standing in sadness & solidarity with survivors and families of the 72 people who needlessly perished in the Grenfell Tower Fire. [read more]
  • May Day Coalition. CLUE is a strong presence at this year’s May Day Coalition supporting immigrant workers. [read more]

Thank you for being a part of the CLUE community.  

In faith,

Your friends at CLUE

2022 Young Religious Leaders Fellowship

Meet the Fellows

CLUE is excited to welcome this year’s fellows who will undergo intensive training in faith-rooted organizing and will work on an active social justice campaign under an experienced faith-rooted organizer. CLUE’s Young Religious Leaders Fellowship (YRLF) is an active leadership development program that generates a new generation of engaged leaders with an intense hands-on immersion into the art of faith-rooted organizing and campaign strategizing.

Get to know this year’s 2022 YRLF fellows

Chiazam Agu: Hi! My name is Chiazam. I’m a child of immigrants and I’m from the Los Angeles area. In college I was active in the campus Christian Fellowship where I was encouraged by the connection between my faith and social justice. This summer, I’m looking forward to engaging with others who are passionate about faith-based organizing for justice and working with others on campaigns that make a difference in our communities.

MariaIsabelle Garcia: MariaIsabelle Garcia, known as Isabelle, is a recent Chapman University graduate. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with minors in Latinx/Latin American studies and LGBTQIA+ studies. Isabelle was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and continues to live in Orange County after graduation. She participated in the Poor People’s Campaign national student fellowship in 2019 and continues to participate in the Orange County Poor People’s campaign. She participated in Chapman University’s Disciples on Campus program, serving on the Disciples leadership board for three consecutive years. Isabelle continues to participate in the Disciples of Christ community, attending First Christian Church of Orange. Isabelle hopes to continue to grow her skills in leadership through this fellowship, working within an organization she has previously volunteered with. She aims to aid in creating a safe and welcoming interfaith community as she works besides Orange County workers.

Leah Julian: Leah Julian is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Originally from Davis, CA, Leah was raised in a home of activists steeped in the Labor Movement. Brought along to rallies, pickets, and canvasses Leah experienced from an early age the importance and power of people coming together in solidarity to fight for change. In addition to her upbringing, Leah’s Jewish faith and values inspire her to help fight for a better world for all. Leah is excited to join CLUE’s work this summer to learn more about how faith can help catalyze social change, and how to better support her community’s fight for economic justice.

Stephen Kim: I am Stephen Yongjoong Kim, a 2nd Generation Korean-American hailing from the Southern coasts of the Golden State, California. Currently pursuing a degree in Religious Studies and Education & Society at the University of Southern California, I aim to build cooperative coexistence and interrelated communities of understanding via my time as President of USC’s Interfaith Council and my personal non-profit social media co-project. I come from a Korean-Catholic background and more recently have been reclaiming my Korean Buddhist roots as well as connecting with other great world traditions through their religious practices. I fully believe that finding ways to reclaim religiosity from its institutional and ritualistic baggage holds a great mission of our times today. I largely position myself as spiritual AND religious rather than spiritual but not religious. Integrating these two realms allows me to serve as the bridge I want to build. A bridge between my Eastern and Western Heritage, the different faiths I practice, and the beautiful garden of people I find myself in relation with.

Hankyul Lee: Hello! My name is Hankyul. I am a South-Korea born, Midwest raised, Los Angeles transplant. As a pastor’s kid, I also grew up around church plants. Currently, I attend Tapestry LA church, a nondenominational church located in downtown Los Angeles. For the past 13 years, I have lived in California and served in various roles as a student journalist, peer mentor, English teacher, curriculum developer, and volunteer. These experiences have developed my belief in the power that comes from engaging with communities and working together toward a common goal. I strive to walk alongside others, whether that has been mentoring first generation college bound high school students in downtown Los Angeles, building curriculum for elementary students facing systemic barriers from access to equitable opportunities, or interviewing people holding a spectrum of beliefs in several newspaper settings. With a deep belief in the inherent dignity of one’s story and right to a quality education, I hope to intersect advocacy and storytelling in a way that moves us toward a more just and listening society. I strongly believe solidarity does not require homogeneity, but a deeply rooted commitment to learn, grow, and improve. In order to stand with and learn from others, I am excited to walk alongside CLUE and its partners this summer.

Rivka Nehorai: Rivka Nehorai is an artist, art educator, and community builder. Rivka sees deep, joyful communal gatherings as a revolutionary act, and has dedicated herself for the last decade to cultivating powerful communities. Rivka co-founded a creative collective in Brooklyn from 2015-2020 that challenged systemic issues within the Jewish Orthodox world and gave its members opportunities to gain artistic skills and express themselves. When Rivka moved to Long Beach two years ago, she got involved within the social justice and interfaith world of Southern California. She received a grant from the Long Beach Arts Council to create Wandering Towards The Divine, an interfaith live portrait series that explored how people use their faith as a lens with which to walk through the world. Rivka’s artwork can be viewed at rivkgallery.com Rivka is thrilled to be joining CLUE this summer to both build her advocacy skills for creating change on the ground level and to collaborate with inspiring social justice change makers. 

Los Angeles

Victory for Cedars-Sinai Workers!

On Monday, May 9 hundreds of workers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, represented by SEIU – United Healthcare Workers, went on a weeklong strike to demand better wages, increased staffing, and improved safety conditions, patient care, and good-faith labor practices from the hospital!

CLUE mobilized the faith community to show up in solidarity with this joyful and powerful strike throughout the week, and on the final day of the strike (Friday, May 13) we organized a faith solidarity rally where hundreds of striking workers were inspired and moved by our clergy and faith leaders sharing their words of solidarity, prayers, uplifting songs and calls to action!

Two weeks after the conclusion of the strike, on May 27 nearly 2,000 SEIU-UHW members at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles won their best contract ever! After months at the bargaining table and a week on the strike line, members at Cedars won a deal that includes real raises (averaging at 17%), increases the minimum wage to $21 per hour by 2024, protects their healthcare, and puts in place the important pandemic protections that have been dangerously lacking. Thank you everyone at CLUE and our partners who joined the workers on the strike line and reached out to Cedars Sinai in support of the healthcare workers – this win wouldn’t have been possible without us and our faith-rooted movement for justice and solidarity! 

Top Picture: Workers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who are leaders in SEIU-UHW begin their weeklong strike on Monday, June 9 with a pose of determination, joy and resolve.

Email [email protected] for more information.

Honoring Victims of Recent Mass Shootings

May 30, 2022 CLUE joins the Black Jewish Justice Alliance (BJJA) & partners for an interfaith vigil to remember the victims of the recent mass shootings

The Black Jewish Justice Alliance (BJJA) organized a vigil called “Where Do We Go From Here,” honoring the victims of the Buffalo, Laguna, and Uvalde mass shootings. Impacted people from each community spoke. Hundreds of people attended. It was a very powerful time. We will follow up at our June committee meeting to determine the next steps.

In the Media:

The People’s Summit for Democracy

The one and only Pastor Cue participated in the People’s Summit for Democracy as a featured speaker

The People’s summit was a three-day summit of mobilizations, workshops, art, & speakers to uplift the voices of the people and our movements. Our one and only Pastor Cue was part of this year’s summit. This summit was in the tradition of each summit of the Americas since the 2005 Mar Del Plata Summit, including unionists, activists, grassroots organizations, and progressive people of the Americas. Speakers came from all over the Americas, including the countries that were excluded from the Summit of the Americas. 

In the Media: People’s Summit for Democracy spotlights voices, social justice issues excluded from Summit of the Americas – ABC7 Los Angeles

Email [email protected] for more information.

Check the Sheriff Coalition

With the Sheriff’s primary election behind us, many had anticipated that the Sheriff would win outright, but he failed to reach the 50% vote threshold. He only got just over 30% of the vote, meaning there will be a runoff in November. Clearly, the work we did with the Check the Sheriff Coalition on educating the public about deputy gangs, among other issues, impacted the race. We are now pushing to encourage the Board Of Supervisors to put the Charter Amendment on the November ballot that would give them power to remove the Sheriff for certain offenses. Email [email protected] for more information.

CLUE joins A Celebration of the Azerbaijan  Independence Day

On May 25, CLUE joined the Consul General of the Republic of Azerbaijan to celebrate the Independence Day of Azerbaijan & the 30th Anniversary of Azerbaijan-U.S. Diplomatic Relations. This event was an interfaith meeting with diverse people of different religions. Rev. Walter Contreras had the opportunity to share the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations to an audience of over 500.

Email [email protected] for more information.

Long Beach and South Bay

 Quality Care Campaign 
May 24, 2022 CLUE Long Beach and South Bay faith leaders join our partners SEIU and LAANE  to support certified nursing assistants (CNAs) across California in their fight for better wages and more

Nursing home workers across Southern California are fighting for better staffing ratios and better wages. With a natural connection between congregations and nursing homes, CLUE Long Beach and South Bay committee has been involved in this campaign in significant ways. On May 24, the campaign had a day of action to support certified nursing assistants (CNAs) across California in their fight for $20/hour wages and a statewide nursing homes’ quality standards board. 

Rev. Melinda Teter-Dodge, Imam Abdul Hafiz, and Ann Burdette participated in the Long Beach action in front of Country Villa Belmont Heights Healthcare Center that day. CLUE faith leaders and community members shared their gratitude for the workers as they picked up their lunches offered by SEIU 2015. Imam Hafiz offered a prayer of blessing over the workers and organizers. Ms. Burdette shared her personal story of seeing her mom being cared for by CNAs for years in a nursing home, which compels her to be a part of this campaign. The presence and shared words of CLUE faith leaders uplifted the spirits and boosted the morale of workers and organizers.

For more information, please feel free to email Rev. Mary Duong via [email protected].

HUGE VICTORY for Terranea Workers!

In partnership with Unite Here Local 11, CLUE South Bay and Long Beach committee has been accompanying workers at Terranea Resort to fight to have their jobs back. The Terranea Resort broke the CA recall law and didn’t give the workers their jobs back after the resort reopened. However, David Gomez and his coworkers courageously fought back and filed a lawsuit against this resort. The workers WON last month! Terranea has to pay $1.5 million to 57 workers now. This is a HUGE VICTORY for Terranea workers!  

CLUE faith leaders pray & accompany Terranea Resort worker David Gomez on his first day back to work on May 25, 2022 after two years of being laid-off

Last year, CLUE South Bay clergy, Rabbi Cassi Kail from Temple Beth El, and Jane Affonso from South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC) accompanied David Gomez to speak with the president of the resort and to ask for his job back. The president refused to call David back to work at the time. However, David and his coworkers fought in court for their rights to return to work. With their legal victory last month, David and his coworkers returned to work after more than two years of being laid off. Seven of CLUE faith leaders and community members were present to pray and accompany David on his first day back to work on May 25. This uplifted his spirit and showed the resort that the faith community stands in solidarity with workers until the end.  

Email [email protected] for more information.

The People’s Budget

CLUE is a part of the People’s Budget Long Beach Coalition, a multi-cultural, multi-generational alliance to address structural racism and economic injustice in the city that were especially exacerbated during the pandemic. Every year, the city presents its proposal for the next fiscal year’s city budget, but it has consistently failed to reflect the values and needs of the community. Therefore, the coalition has presented the People’s Budget every year before the city’s proposal as a pathway to ending anti-Blackness and structural racism in the community. 

Specifically, the People’s Budget calls out nine areas of focus:

  1. Reimagine community safety without police terror, grounded in transformative justice and Black Empowerment
  2. Citywide Rental Housing Division
  3. Right to Counsel for All Renters
  4. Community Land Trusts (CLTs)
  5. Language Access
  6. Youth Recovery
  7. Older Adult Protections
  8. Universal Legal Representation for Immigrants
  9. Digital Inclusion

CLUE Long Beach has been working closely in the coalition to strategize the plan for the People’s Budget this year. Ann Burdette represents CLUE in the education committee, and Rev. Mary Duong works with the coalition’s communications committee. To demystify the People’s Budget and deeper engage the community in the city’s budget process this year, we hosted a community gathering at a park on June 11. This event will brought in local musicians and artists to create a fun space for the community to connect, share stories, and listen to one another’s needs. We interviewed community members for their stories and where they see the city needs to spend more funding to address their pressing needs so that we can highlight these voices in the People’s Budget this year. We also had games and activities to engage children and young people to share their vision of public safety in Long Beach from their perspectives. 

Email [email protected] for more information.

Orange County

Justice for Grenfell

On June 14,  CLUE stood outside the offices of Capital Group, one of Kingspan’s major investors, and called on them to divest to show solidarity with survivors and families of the 72 people – mostly low-wage Muslims – who needlessly perished in the Grenfell Tower Fire in London 5 years ago.

Email [email protected] for more information.

 Legacy Square Affordable Housing Project Workshop

On Saturday, May 7, CLUE continued to support the coordination of the fourth Legacy Square workshop in collaboration with VeLA, THRIVE, and the Kennedy Commission. This workshop took place via Zoom and aimed to inform community residents about the requirements to apply for Legacy Square’s 100% affordable apartments constructed on Santa Ana United Methodist Church (SAUMC) sacred land. SAUMC staff joined to express that the Legacy Square project goes beyond housing and it’s a way for the church to love people, walk with residents, the community, and partners for housing justice. CLUE’s faith-rooted organizer and SAUMC’s Spanish-speaking Pastor, Pastor David Jaimes, led a prayer and re-affirmed the church’s commitment to faithfully serve the future residents of Legacy Square and ensure they feel supported in all the processes of the project.  

For more information, please contact Senior Faith-rooted organizer, Lucero Garcia, [email protected]


Rallying Cry for Sunday May Day

This year’s May Day Rally in Downtown Los Angeles landed on a Sunday, but it was not a day of rest for advocates of immigrant workers. This year’s rally was  important because of long-overdue protections for essential immigrant workers, a contentious mid-term election year, and the looming new reality of a post-covid world and how it impacts vulnerable communities of color that cannot work from home. CLUE committed to continuing our strong presence at this year’s May Day Coalition and supporting immigrant workers!

Email [email protected] for more information.

May 1, 2022 CLUE and Rev. Walter Contreras marching alongside community at the May Day march in Downtown Los Angeles.
CLUE rallies with May Day Coalition

El Comité Flowering in the Midst
May 17, 2022 EL Comité  Gathering

On May 17, CLUE organized a space in South Orange County for Spanish-speaking faith leaders to gather for a “Cena Comunitaria”  or community meal and to hear/uplift the stories of the impacted immigrant community. El Comité, CLUE’s first  Spanish-speaking committee,  gave testimony to how vital it is to center and uplift stories of the most impacted communities in this nation.

Email [email protected] for more information.

Solidarity is Sacred

Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice educates, organizes, and mobilizes faith leaders and community members to walk with workers and immigrants in their struggles for good jobs, safe workplaces, and healthy communities.

We can accompany low-wage workers—mostly immigrants and communities of color—because people like you support an organized, connected interfaith movement for economic justice.

Please join the movement to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.