All You That Labor

Religion and Ethics in the Living Wage Movement

217 pages

August, 2011

ISBN: 9780814741122



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C. Melissa Snarr is Associate Professo of Ethics & Society and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

All books by C. Melissa Snarr

“Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Mathew 11:28 (AKJV)

In the early 1990s, a grassroots coalition of churches in Baltimore, Maryland helped launch what would become a national movement. Joining forces with labor and low-wage worker organizations, they passed the first municipal living wage ordinance. Since then, over 144 municipalities and counties as well as numerous universities and local businesses in the United States have enacted such ordinances.

Although religious persons and organizations have been important both in the origins of the living wage movement and in its continuing success, they are often ignored or under analyzed. Drawing on participant observation in multiple cities, All You That Labor analyzes and evaluates the contributions of religious activists to the movement. The book explores the ways religious organizations do this work in concert with low-wage workers, the challenges religious activists face, and how people of faith might better nurture moral agency in relation to the political economy. Ultimately, C. Melissa Snarr provides clarity on how to continue to cultivate, renew, and expand religious resources dedicated to the moral agency of low-wage workers and their allies.


  • “This superb book is a model of social justice scholarship, reflecting C. Melissa Snarr's longtime activism in the living wage movement and her astute sociological and social ethical understanding of the religious activist currents within this movement.”

    —Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, Professor of Religion