Raising the standard for good working conditions is like a chain reaction. More people will see their work life can be better.

~ Clara Vargas, 32BJ Member, Florida

32BJ Statement on Fatal Shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina:

We join all those mourning the horrific shooting that took place at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and loved ones and all those whose lives are forever changed by this senseless act of violence.

This massacre that claimed the lives of nine parishioners while at a prayer meeting is more than tragic. The statements made by the accused shooter before he opened fire on the congregation point to a terrible sickness that threatens to consume this nation from the inside out. When some of those in our communities are not safe even in their own houses of worship, we must ask ourselves if we are doing enough in the fight for racial justice and equality.

This church was no typical church — it is the South’s oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, with almost 200 years of history as a site of resistance against injustice. One of its founders was hanged for inciting a slave rebellion in the 19th Century, and many civil rights luminaries have spoken from its pulpits and led marches from its steps. That a massacre being investigated as a hate crime should take place in such a place is another knife in the wound. We call for justice, and for healing, and for a renewed commitment to racial justice and brotherhood.