Facing formidable opposition in 1996 from local politicians and business leaders to a living-wage law in Los Angeles, progressive faith leaders and allies worked to convince a decisive majority of City Council members to support the measure and commit to overriding a threatened veto from then-Mayor Richard Riordan. At that time, CLUE was nothing but a bunch of trouble-making pastors with an idea.
The law passed in March 1997, assuring a livable wage for thousands and making it very clear that the progressive agenda had room -- no, it needed -- religious voices. A conversation began among clergy, social justice advocates and union members with a view to creating a faith-based nonprofit to organize the faith community to speak out for workers' justice claims.
In 2000, Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, a Lutheran pastor, became CLUE's first full-time director. She developed a theory of social change, rooted in faith and scripture, that combines the moral authority and witness of faith traditions with real-world political advocacy for workers. The vision: creating a just and sacred society.
Those early CLUE clergy and lay leaders blocked streets, met with politicians, and opened space for negotiation among employers and workers, figuring in some of the most important social justice struggles in Southern California in recent decades. We were a major force in the New Sanctuary movement that involved churches opening space for persecuted immigrants, helped with unionizing efforts in Santa Monica and Anaheim hotels and resorts, and advocated for important local and state laws that protect workers and immigrants, including a $15 per hour local minimum wage in Los Angeles and a state law that separates the function of local police and federal immigration agents.
Today, CLUE has a vast network of congregations, allies and supporters in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. We are charting our progress through the next three to five years by implementing a strategic plan approved by the board. And we are reaching out to new funders who are interested in our work.
More than ever, we need to band together with people of faith and conscience who value justice. In these times, the forces of corruption and totalitarianism are arraying themselves against us. But we know that there's a better ideal, that history is on our side, and that our values are those of the majority in this country. If you know this, too, JOIN US!