In response to efforts by Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, to cut the bargaining rights and benefits of public workers, protesters have gathered in Madison to challenge this blatant attempt to cut the power of unions. Teachers, nurses, and other public employees see this as an attack on their rights to organize for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. Here's a gallery of images of what's been happening.

Protests in Madison, Wisconsin

And so we pray this news with a psalm by Eileen Purcell that raises up the spiritual issues in this event.

Mother, Father,
Sister, Brother,
Source of all creation,

Thank you for the gift of life,
for the "beloved community,"
realized each time
we make concrete your love and justice;
renewed each time
we recognize you in ourselves,
and in the eyes of each other and in those we serve;
fulfilled each time
we are recognized in the fullness of our humanity
with dignity and respect.

God of Love and Justice,
we are workers, . . .
bound together across borders
with common dreams —
dreams of home, hearth, health, safety, community;
food for the body, mind, and spirit;
time to reap the fruits of our labor;
well-being for ourselves, our families, our neighbors,
our world.

We seek
the right not only to survive but to thrive,
the right to participate and to be heard,
the opportunity to imagine and create the future.

We lay claim
to our rightful place at the table
and the exercise of economic citizenship,
blessed by the blood of all who have come before and
all who come after us in the struggle for respect
and recognition.

We lift our collective voice
and declare:
The economy exists for all people, not the few;
people do not exist for the economy!

The well-being of our families is inextricably bound
with the well-being of yours;
your freedom intertwined with ours;
our past and futures woven together in the air
we breathe,
the water we drink, the clothes we wear, the land
we share,
the children we raise, the languages we speak,
the hopes and dreams we carry, the divine spark

God of compassion and Light,
grant us courage to continue the struggle.
Grant us hope born by coming together in love,
with power for justice.
Accompany us as we join together with our coworkers
near and far,
asserting our right for
a place at the table,
a better future for all;
asserting the right to organize,
the right to unionize,
the moral imperative to set ourselves free!

Take our hands as we take each other's hands
and unearth the promised land — the "beloved
— on this earth as in heaven.

Eileen Purcell is a lifetime organization for social and economic justice, most recently with the Service Employees International Union. This prayer comes from the collection Prayers for The New Social Awakening edited by Christian Iosso and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty.

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