By Margaret Hanlon-Gradie
Contra Costa faith community leaders had strong words for Henkel Bay Point this week when they joined striking Machinists in their fight for safe workplaces and a fair contract against Henkel Corporation. On Tuesday, Reverend Will McGarvey, Community Presbyterian Church and executive director of the Interfaith Council, Reverend Charles Glasper, True Light Missionary Baptist Church, and Senior Pastor Quentisha Davis Wiles, Pittsburg United Methodist Church walked the picket line and offered their prayers and solidarity to the strikers. The three faith leaders shared the letter they and 16 other Contra Costa faith leaders had written to Henkel, (also see below) demanding respect, dignity and safety for the workers and community.
“It is every employer’s duty to treat their workers with respect. The Henkel Corporation, however, ignores workers’ health and safety, promotes a culture of indignation, and consistently diminishes the workers’ ability to care for themselves. This is not how we are told to treat our fellow man. This is not God’s plan,” reads the letter.
The faith leaders addressed the strikers, offering material support for the upcoming holidays and invited strikers to call on their church families for assistance with the upcoming holidays.
“Be encouraged because what Henkel is attempting to do is wrong. Morally, ethically, and legally, it’s wrong…. so today I want to ask you to keep standing tall,” said Pastor Quentisha Davis Wiles.
The over 80 manufacturing workers have been on strike at Henkel Bay Point for 30 days. The workers are fighting for safety and respect at the workplace and have received support from much of the community. “We’re eternally grateful for the enthusiastic support we are receiving from the faith community. These faith leaders are putting their attention on the health of our spirits, as well as, our bodies, the two things this company has attempted to break,” said Henkel employee Will Morris.
Hanlon-Gradie is the Executive Director for the Contra Costa Central Labor Council.