You're Invited:
Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Gala - December 16th, 2021

We would be honored to have you join the Jewish Labor Committee for our
2021 Human Rights Awards Gala.

This year's virtual event will honor AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, and New York Hotel and Gaming Council, AFL-CIO, President Rich Maroko.
We will have the opportunity to hear from special guests including United States Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, and others.
Hearing these leaders' perspectives should be very informative and insightful.
You will not want to miss out.

 -- Stuart Appelbaum, President, Jewish Labor Committee

for web JLC 2021 HRA Gala 112021_JLC_D8_FullPage 970.jpg


To RSVP, order tickets, and to contribute, just click here.






Labor Day and Rosh Hashana Greetings!

We can forge a New World.jpg

Together, we can forge a new year - good fortune, happiness, a livelihood and good health for all!

Once again, we are sending our best wishes for Labor Day, and also for a good, sweet and happy Rosh Hashana.

This year, Labor Day falls on Monday, September 6th, and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins that evening. There could not be a more appropriate confluence of events. As unions and labor organizations around the United States hold their annual Labor Day events, and as Jews around the world gather together – virtually and in person – it is an opportunity to reflect on the struggles working people have been facing, even before the pandemic.

This Labor Day Weekend, we have an opportunity to honor those who do the work necessary to keep our communities and our society going, and how work has come to be an experience of both pain and promise for many in our society.

Pain: we have seen the stresses and dangers faced by workers in a time of pandemic, from front-line workers at hospitals to those involved in transportation, to those working in the fields, in grocery stores and at food processing plants, and those who educate our children, or care for our elderly and infirm.

Promise: we have also seen critical gains for workers at such places as a Frito Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, where, after a 20-day strike, the management agreed to a key demand and a guarantee for one day off a week. Some workers there had to work seven days a week, including what they called “suicide shifts” and the company called “squeeze shifts”— back-to-back 12-hour shifts with only eight hours off in between. The new two-year contract eliminates those shifts. And we salute workers who have bravely taken on mega-corporations, from Amazon warehouse workers to Starbucks baristas, trying to join unions.

Continue reading "Labor Day and Rosh Hashana Greetings!" »

Healthcare workers in NJ nursing facilities need your help!

Demo at CCM facility in Westfield NJ.jpg

August 17, 2021: Westfield, NJ - Marty Schwartz, New Jersey JLC Coordinator, wearing a blue mask, stands with healthcare workers on strike at the Complete Care Nursing Facility in Westfield. To his left is brother Clauvice St. Hilaire, Vice-President of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers. (Photo courtesy Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, 1199SEIU)

Please sign our letter calling on Complete Care Management (CCM) to bargain in good faith with the unions representing its staff at nursing homes they recently bought in New Jersey. Instead of honoring the contracts negotiated with the previous owners, CCM has cut heath insurance benefits, educational and retirement benefits, and paid time off. These essential workers have been on the front lines during the pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk. They should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Workers at several facilities throughout the Garden State owned by Complete Care Management are calling on CCM to bargain in good faith and to divulge information about how they are allocating the millions of dollars of additional Medicaid funds provided by the state due to the pandemic that were earmarked for increased salaries and benefits.

Now it's time to support them. Please sign our letter!


Mourning the Passing of Richard Trumka

Richard Trumka at October 27 2009 JLC Human Rights Awards Dinner DSC01425edited.jpg
Richard Trumka Addressing Human Rights Dinner of the JLC, New York City, October 27th 2009.

August 5, 2021 - On learning of the death of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka earlier today, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement.

"We were shocked to learn of the untimely passing of our friend and colleague, Rich Trumka, and send our deepest condolences to his family on this tragic day.

"He was committed to working men and women, their families and communities, from his early days as a third generation coal miner in Pennsylvania to his leadership of the United Mine Workers of America, and, for over a decade, as President of the AFL-CIO.

"He was an inspiration, and an ally. And the Jewish Labor Committee was fortunate enough to have him as a friend, and – on a personal note – I was as well.

"His work not only on behalf of the 12.5 million members of the 56 unions of the federation but on behalf of all workers, in fields and factories and schools and workplaces across the country, was deeply meaningful and important in the struggle to build a society that lifts us all up.

"We commit ourselves to continuing his work, and that of the larger labor movement that he headed and championed, and to building a more just, a fairer, and more equitable society.

"May his many achievements, and his dedication to securing better lives for working people over the years, serve as an inspiration to all who come after him. As it is said in Jewish tradition, may his memory be a blessing, and may his family know no more sorrow."

After Gaza: Toward a Just Resolution of the Conflict.

May 27, 2021 - As supporters of a two-state solution to the conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people, the Jewish Labor Committee opposes the continued Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. We support calls for meaningful peace negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward a negotiated end of that control and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.

We are heartbroken by, and care deeply about the tragic loss of innocent lives on both sides – falling heaviest on civilians in Gaza. Yet, anyone who condemns the deaths of Palestinian civilians must also condemn the intentional launching by Hamas and related forces of rockets in densely-populated neighborhoods, in close proximity to schools, hospitals and other institutions. The escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel earlier in May was the result of Hamas forces firing what eventually amounted to over 4,000 rockets indiscriminately over the border into Israel. Hamas knew that its assault on Israeli civilians would bring a swift and harsh response.

East Jerusalem must not continue to be a flashpoint between its Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers attempting to take over property there. We oppose the attempts to forcibly evict Palestinian families from homes that they have lived in for as long as 60 years in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. We support a fair and just examination of the competing claims to the land upon which those homes were built. Eviction orders are now under appeal before Israel’s Supreme Court.

We call on the United States to reassert a leadership role to assist in finding a just and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, we oppose recent calls for actions that will make it harder for forces in the peace camp and the democratic left within Israel to gain support for opposing continued Israeli control of the West Bank. Such measures would hamper the work of Israelis who call for respecting the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and within the State of Israel itself.

We also reject demands on the Biden Administration to “stop aid to Israel.” We call for the U.S. to make certain that aid to Israel does not end up bolstering the settler movement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the massive infrastructure of military control that has been developed over the years. At the same time, we support the Biden Administration’s efforts to assist in repairing the extensive destruction and damage in Gaza resulting from the recent conflict.

Since Israel came into existence as an independent state, the Jewish Labor Committee has supported the right of the State of Israel to exist and to defend itself, consonant with international law. Furthermore, we strongly support all efforts to secure equal civil and human rights for all Israeli citizens, including Palestinian Arabs and other ethnic and religious minorities. And we support the right of the Palestinian people to live freely in an independent Palestinian state that would respect the civil and human rights of Jews and other minorities in that country.

April 29th: Viirtual Workers Memorial Day Program

Mourn for the Dead Fight for the Living.png

Workers Memorial Day, April 28th, has been commemorated since 1970, to honor the victims of workplace injury and illness and to keep fighting for the promise of safe jobs for all workers. This year, Workers Memorial Week contains a range of programs and activities across the map. See here and here and here, for instance.

The Jewish Labor Committee Invites you to a

VIRTUAL WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY PROGRAM
Marking the 50th Anniversary of OSHA – The Occupational Safety & Health Act

“UNIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE”

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 4:00 p.m. (ET)

Speakers Include:
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb
Executive Director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health

Armando Elenes
Secretary-Treasurer, United Farm Workers

James Shackelford
Southeast Council, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

Moderator:
Arieh Lebowitz
Executive Director, Jewish Labor Committee

To Register, click here: https://form.jotform.com/211055781180046

The Matzah of Affliction, Amazon Workers, and a special Passover Haggadah

Matzah.jpg

March 25, 2021 - This year, Passover will take place during a historic moment in the labor movement. Thousands of votes have already been cast by workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama seeking to bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse in the United States.

We’ve received an outpouring of requests on how to express solidarity with the Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama this Passover. Here’s one way.

During the Passover Seders we will be holding at home and online this year, the JLC recommends the following as an addition to traditional and contemporary Seder observances, as you say a blessing over a piece of matzah:

Just as matzah symbolizes the hardship of slavery and the Jewish people's hasty transition to freedom; in the modern day, it also symbolizes the difficult working conditions and treatment of working women and men at AMAZON warehouses everywhere and their fight for change, dignity and respect.

If you’d be interested in a haggadah that focuses on labor history and labor issues, you can download a copy of the Jewish Labor Committee Passover Haggadah by clicking on the text in blue, or here: https://bit.ly/3tSxUJf

As Passover and Easter overlap this year, we wish our members and friends observing these holidays a sweet and meaningful Passover and a happy Easter.

JLC Condemns Anti-Asian Violence in Wake of Killings in Atlanta-Area Spas

March 23, 2021 - The Jewish Labor Committee joins in solidarity with those who condemn the killing of eight women at Atlanta-area spas, six of them Asian American and Pacific Islanders, one week ago. We extend our condolences and sympathy to the families of those who were murdered. And, in this time of escalating hate crimes, we extend a message of solidarity to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders, our neighbors, friends and fellow workers, across the United States.

The statistics are sobering, and yet we know that this kind of crime is seriously under-reported. That a disproportionate amount of these vicious attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islanders are against women, only adds to the crisis confronting so many broken families and grieving communities.

The massive increase in anti-Asian violence during the past year comes at a time when white supremacist propaganda has been pumped out in record amounts. Shamefully, it has been aided, abetted and stoked by repeated comments by former president Donald Trump and his supporters.

That Asian American and Pacific Island workers and their families feel, and indeed often are, unsafe at work and in the street is appalling. It is part and parcel of a larger trend of racism expressed in diverse ways, from hate crimes to “jokes” and subtle slurs. This must be condemned from the highest political offices to the most local, from pulpits, in the press, in schools, and around the dinner table. That President Biden and Vice President Harris have both spoken out forcefully to condemn violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders is to be lauded. But much more needs to be done.

Asian American and Pacific Islander communities feel targeted, and they are. They need to be supported, to be listened to, and to be respected and acknowledged as valuable members of our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society.
The ugly underbelly of American culture that is not new, that surfaces with violence and bigotry against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Latinx, Jews and other minorities, must be exposed, and delegitimized. Those who express hatred and prejudice must be met not with silence, but with condemnation. As Jews, we know all too well what this can lead to; with our allies, we have fought it before. That fight must continue.

"A Jewish labor leader on his union’s battle with Amazon"

Stuart Appelbaum photo 4 web.jpg

JLC President Stuart Appelbaum Speaks Out.

NOTE: This article, by Arno Rosenfeld, originally appeared in The Forward, dated February 9, 2021.

The union election at an Amazon warehouse in central Alabama, which began Monday and will last for seven weeks, is being closely watched by both supporters and foes of organized labor. Workers at the facility have come closer to forming a union than any others in Amazon’s history, and a victory could have ramifications well beyond a single fulfillment center in the Birmingham suburbs.

“The importance of this campaign transcends this one facility,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU), which is organizing the workers in Alabama. “It’s really about what the future of work is going to look like.”

Appelbaum, 68, climbed the ranks of the retail workers union starting in 1987, after working for the Democratic National Committee and Michigan AFL-CIO. He has been president since 1998. He is also president of the Jewish Labor Committee, and sits on the executive committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, as well as the national advisory board for J Street, the liberal pro-Israel group. The son of a postal clerk in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Appelbaum said he would read union newsletters cover-to-cover as a child. The family attended a Conservative synagogue where the rabbi’s sermons made an impression.

“I remember my rabbi telling us all work is honorable, regardless of whether or not you have a job that requires a college education,” Appelbaum said. “That’s normally not a message you’d hear in Jewish synagogues — you’d hear, ‘Everyone has to go to college.’”

I spoke with Appelbaum about the stakes of the Amazon organizing drive and the changing role of Jews within the American labor movement. Appelbaum is, unsurprisingly, hostile to the e-commerce giant and that is reflected in the interview. We have also reached out to Amazon to request an interview with incoming CEO Andy Jassy, who is Jewish. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Many Jews came to the United States as working-class immigrants but their descendants have since ascended to the professional class: doctors, lawyers, business people. Is it harder to convince the Jewish community to support organized labor these days than it was 30 or 40 or 50 years ago?

I’d say that the approach is different. Rather than talking about people’s individual experience or their parents’ individual experience, I think that we turn to those core principles that make us proud of our heritage. I’m incredibly proud that the Jewish community voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, I’m incredibly proud that the Jewish community has been at the forefront of so many social- justice battles, and I am confident that the Jewish community will continue to support working people.

Continue reading ""A Jewish labor leader on his union’s battle with Amazon"" »

You're Invited:
Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Gala - 12/17/2020

Like most 2020 events, things look a little different this year - but that will not stop us from celebrating (virtually, of course). We would be honored to have you join the Jewish Labor Committee for our 2020 Human Rights Awards Gala.

This year's virtual event will honor National Nurses United President Jean Ross, IBEW President Lonnie R. Stephenson, and UFCW Vice President David T. Young. We will have the opportunity to hear from special guests including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, and others. As we all look ahead to a Biden-Harris Administration, hearing from these leaders on the front line should be very informative and insightful.

You will not want to miss out.

 -- Stuart Appelbaum, President, Jewish Labor Committee

121720 JLC Invite Full_ 970px.jpg


Click here to RSVP and contribute.






Jewish Communal Statement Denouncing White Supremacy

October 7, 2020 - The Jewish Labor Committee joins with more than two dozen Jewish communal organizations in the joint statement, below, urging U.S. political leaders and Americans more generally to clearly and forcefully denounce domestic extremists.

~~~

White supremacy is a public safety emergency, a threat to American democracy and a global crisis. When white supremacists are encouraged by our own administration on the national debate stage, the security of the 2020 U.S. election is at stake as are the lives and safety of those routinely targeted by those groups. And the problematic impact of white supremacy in America exists both on the ground and online. Social media companies allow white supremacist groups to grow their membership. Algorithms and engagement metrics augment their voices. Troll storms torment their victims. Platforms are a mechanism for white supremacists to plan their attacks and even broadcast their violence.

We urge all our political leaders and all our fellow Americans to unequivocally and explicitly denounce white supremacy, white supremacist organizations, and the individuals and groups who adopt and act on white supremacist and right-wing extremist ideologies.

Jews as a people have a long history of being singled out, stigmatized, and blamed without basis during times of societal crisis. The Jewish community is not alone in experiencing these stigma. In times of great fear, uncertainty and unrest, the demonization of the other has had the capacity to encourage extreme violence fueled by bigotry, racism, hatred and antisemitism. Knowing the perilous reality of incitement compels us to call on all people and particularly all leaders to reject white supremacy and right-wing extremism.

Signatories:

Continue reading "Jewish Communal Statement Denouncing White Supremacy" »

Rosh Hashana: A New Year's Appeal from the JLC

Wishing you a
Sweet and Good New Year
L'Shana Tova u'Mtukah
Gut Yuntif, Gut Yohr

2018 September Happy New Year.jpg

All of us at the Jewish Labor Committee
wish you, your family, relatives,
co-workers, friends and neighbors
a safe, good and sweet year - a more peaceful,
more just, fairer and better year.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, a time for self-examination and renewal, is upon us. For people around the world, this has been a terrifying, saddening, and challenging time. As the season changes, and as we approach a New Year, the world has changed in ways that we never contemplated or even believed possible. The death toll from COVID-19 is staggering. The pandemic has raised the curtain on inequalities and injustices that have always existed but have now been exacerbated: the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color and those with less means is starkly visible. And the number of people who have lost their jobs is shocking. We are challenged by the health and healthcare crisis, a terrible economic crisis, and, at the same time, an unprecedented political crisis.

Continue reading "Rosh Hashana: A New Year's Appeal from the JLC" »

A tune for our times, and for USA's Labor Day Weekend, 2020

March of the Jobless Corps Daniel Kahn and The Painted Birds.jpg

September 4, 2020 - Here is a thoroughly modern English and Yiddish "March of The Jobless Corps" - an adaptation of "Arbetlose Marsch - Song of the Unemployed*," originally by Mordechai Gebertig**, an amazing and now-underappreciated Jewish / Yiddish poet and songwriter.* This version is by Daniel Kahn and `the Painted Bird' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KFVVKFxr60

* The original's lyrics are online here: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/arbetlose-marsch-march-unemployed.html
** (1877–1942), Yiddish poet and songwriter. Mordkhe Gebirtig (Bertig) was a native of Kraków ... In April 1942, the Gebirtig family was transported to the ghetto, where Mordkhe still continued to write. On 4 June 1942, while being marched to the Kraków train station on the way to the Bełżec death camp, Gebirtig was murdered by random Nazi fire. Source: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Gebirtig_Mordkhe

Philly Demo: Save the U.S. Postal Service!

4_Web_SaveThePostOfficeDemoInPhiladelphiaAug25th2020 20200825_162415.jpg
Photograph courtesy Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee

August 25, 2020: Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee Director Michael Hersch rallying with a group of local activists outside of the Roosevelt Mall Post Office in Northeast Philadelphia. The action was coordinated in several places concurrently by the 215 People’s Alliance.

Hersch noted that "the U.S. Postal Service is one of the largest employers in the United States and 40 percent of its employees are minorities," adding that the controversial Postmaster General, Louis Dejoy, "doesn’t know the cost of a stamp."

You can find information on how you can help save the U.S. Postal Service by reaching out to the American Postal Workers Union (also see here), the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and The US Mail Not for Sale.

Online Memorial Event for Workers Killed by COVID-19

July 28 Memorial Event Graphic.jpg
Click here to watch.


July 28, 2020 - The Jewish Labor Committee held an online memorial in honor of those workers who have died from COVID-19. We remembered those we have lost, and paused to honor them and their fellow front-line workers still in danger.

Sara Nelson, President, Association of Flight Attendants, moderated the program. Speakers included Jean Ross, RN, President, National Nurses United; Mona Darby, Wayne Farms (Decatur, AL) poultry processing worker, RWDSU Mid-South Council member and & union shop steward; Gladys Betancourt, apartment cleaner, represented by SEIU Local 32BJ, whose coworker passed away from COVID-19 in March; Rabbi Barbara Penzner, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah of West Roxbury, MA and Co-Chair of the New England Jewish Labor Committee, and Stuart Appelbaum, President, RWDSU and President, Jewish Labor Committee.

One day before Tisha B'Av - a Jewish holiday, traditionally set aside to reflect on historical catastrophes that occurred on this date - we focused on those bearing the brunt of COVID-19: front-line workers, those who work in hospitals, nursing homes, supermarkets, public transportation, warehouses, meatpacking plants, or other settings, who are dying because of where they work. Front-line workers deserve not only recognition and thanks, but safe work-spaces, along with adequate wages and benefits – and hazard pay. Click here to watch this online memorial event, to mourn the many front-line workers we have lost this year, and to honor those who have been put to the test by the COVID-19 crisis.

The JLC will continue to fight for safer work-spaces and a just reopening/recovery. May the memory of those we have lost be an inspiration.

JLC Joins in Outrage against the Murder of George Floyd; Calls for Change against Systemic Racism in the U.S.

June 2, 2020: New York, NY - Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, has issued the following statement on behalf of the organization:

We join in the overwhelming outrage against the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and express our deepest condolences to Mr. Floyd’s family. Nothing can make up for their loss, but bringing to justice the police officer who killed him, and his three fellow officers who stood by without intervening, will, we hope, provide a bit of solace in their mourning.
We stand in solidarity with African Americans who have for centuries lived with the realities of racism in this society, and its many manifestations from the most brutal and violent, as in the murder of Mr. Floyd, to persistent racially-based housing, education, income, wealth, employment and health care inequities.
We join with the labor movement and the Jewish community in the many heartfelt and thoughtful messages of condemnation, sadness, and solidarity, and the calls for systemic change. And we stand with our African-American sisters and brothers in the Jewish community, and in the labor movement, whose insights are invaluable to all who are working for meaningful change.
We support the vast majority of those who, even in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, are peacefully yet forcefully demonstrating against the murder of Mr. Floyd, and the long history of brutality against Black men and women at the hands of police officers and others, and standing up against systemic racism in the United States.
We deplore those on the fringes of these demonstrations who are engaging in violence and looting. As a bridge linking the Jewish community and the labor movement, the JLC condemns those who have spray-painted anti-Semitic slogans and committed anti-Semitic acts against Jewish communal institutions, and, most recently, those who vandalized the headquarters of the AFL-CIO.
All of these violent acts not only deflect attention from the just concerns of these many demonstrations against racist violence and racial inequity, but also allow some of our top political leaders, including President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, to turn this tragic moment into an excuse to ignore the urgent need for reform, especially in this country’s criminal justice system, in the name of “law and order.”

Yom HaShoa, Labor and the Holocaust

fight NAZISM and FASCISM 4 WEB.jpg
Poster by Mitchell Loeb, 1934. The Jewish Labor Committee, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, the Labor Chest to Combat Nazism and Fascism, and others made use of it in outreach campaigns.

April 21, 2020: New York, NY - On this day of commemoration of the Holocaust, we remember the origins of the Jewish Labor Committee, founded on February. 25, 1934, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, to provide a presence for the activists of the mostly Yiddish-speaking, mostly immigrant Jewish labor movement, in the American labor movement and in the mainstream Jewish community. The JLC's aim was to mobilize labor in the struggle against the rising threat of Nazism in Germany, and, more generally, of fascism in Europe.

You can learn about the JLC's Holocaust-era history at this online exhibition, prepared by the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, Tamiment Library, NYU. The exhibit is based on "Labor and the Holocaust: the Jewish Labor Committee and the Anti-Nazi Struggle," by Gail Malmgreen.

Health Care Workers Need Personal Protective Equipment!

PPE image for web.JPG
(Photo by James L. Miller)

Both the American Federation of Teachers Nurses and Health Professionals and National Nurses United, representing many of these workers, have asked for the public's help.

Here are two petitions you can sign onto!

Healthcare Workers Need Protective Equipment Now,” [AFT],

and

Tell Congress: We demand nurses are protected during COVID-19,” [NNU].

[Note, on some of these sign-ons, you can uncheck any of the boxes that are pre-checked, or unsubscribe, to avoid getting additional email from the organizers of this petition or the group that is hosting it online.]

You can find out how to aid health care professionals, and other workers and their families affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic, in your community by reaching out to your local central labor council. You can find them here.

109th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

we mourn our loss.jpg
In the April 5th, 1911 funeral procession for seven unidentified Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire victims, members of the United Hebrew Trades of New York and the Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union Local 25 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union - the local that had tried to organize Triangle Waist Company workers* - carry banners proclaiming "We Mourn Our Loss."

March 25, 2020, New York, NY -- The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which occurred in Manhattan's Lower East Side on March 25, 1911, just east of Washington Square Park, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the city's history. 146 garment workers, mostly Jewish and Italian women, died as a result of this fire, either by being burned or as a result of jumping to their deaths. Most of the workers could not escape because factory managers locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to keep them from leaving early. Fire trucks' ladders could only reach the sixth floor - the those who perished were on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors.

Occurring in the midst of five years of labor organizing in the clothing industry in a number of cities across the United States, the fire shocked the city, the country and the world. Legislation requiring improved factory safety standards was passed in the immediate aftermath of the fire. Unions and their allies have been fighting ever since for better and safer working conditions for working men and women wherever they labor.

Each year, we've marked the anniversary of the tragic fire. Today, frontline healthcare workers are imperiled. National Nurses United notes that "nurses across the country report that they are not receiving the proper staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE), education, and communication from their employers, or isolation rooms they need to safely care for COVID-19 patients." We ask you to sign this petition to the U.S. Congress to do everything in their power to ensure that nurses are protected from COVID-19, because all of our lives depend on it.

Below are a number of resources to learn about, and teach about, this tragedy and its relevance to today's struggle for decent and safe workplaces, in New York, across the United States, and around the globe.

Continue reading "109th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire" »

Call your Senators NOW re Emergency Stimulus Bill.

Telephone.jpg

March 24, 2020 -- Congress is trying to put together what some call an emergency stimulus bill to mitigate the disastrous impact the Coronavirus is wreaking on workers and their workplaces, and, more generally, the U.S. economy.
Earlier this week, Senate Democrats blocked a proposal from the Republicans that put corporate interests first, providing far too little help for those most in need of assistance, while creating a $500 billion slush-fund for major corporations with little oversight and accountability.
The JLC strongly believes that the people employed in these industries, as well as those workers in retail stores, restaurants, and a whole range of affected workplaces need help first - help to be able to cover essential expenses, so they can keep a place to live, and food on the table. Literally.
Health care workers - those on the front lines of combating COVID-19 - need to be protected and provided with the tools they need to do their job without risking their own lives.
What can you - what can we - do? Make two phone calls. Now.
The Jewish Labor Committee URGES you to CALL YOUR SENATORS RIGHT NOW!!
You can call your senators directly or reach their office through the AFL-CIO ’ s Legislative Hotline at 866-832-1560
TELL THEM:
* Any stimulus bill MUST put workers first and protect their wages, benefits and well-being;
* Direct cash assistance to working families must be equitable and sufficient to provide for basic needs on an on-going basis until the economy regains its footing;
* Eligibility for unemployment benefits must be broadened and benefit levels increased;
* A minimum of 14 days paid sick days as well as 12 weeks family leave must be provided for all workers;
* Funding must be increased and restrictions removed on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and school lunch programs;
- Assistance for mortgages, rent and student loans must be provided;
- A moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and student loan defaults must be implemented;
* Free testing and treatment for the Coronavirus, regardless of income, location, disability, or immigration status must be made accessible;
* Special care and attention must be given to individuals at increased risk of infection, including individuals in prison, immigrants and children in detention, in long-term care facilities, and those who are homeless;
* Any bail-out funds to large corporations must be transparent and not be used for executive pay and stock buy-backs, nor should these corporations be allowed to engage in mass layoffs.

Note: non-profit organizations - providing essential services especially during this crisis - are finding themselves especially hard hit. They must be included in any assistance package for small businesses, and qualify for new, emergency small business loans by removing the Medicaid exclusion and 500 employee caps on nonprofits. Charitable nonprofits should be provided with $60B in any emergency funding proposals.

As we approach the Passover holiday, it is ironic that many of us will not be holding large-family seders due to THIS “eleventh” plague, the Coronavirus. Now is not the time for members of the Senate to “harden their hearts”, but instead to negotiate in good faith, Republicans with Democrats, to pass a bill that will provide emergency help to the most vulnerable.
Again, PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW!
You can reach their office via the AFL-CIO’s Legislative Hotline at 866-832-1560

National Jewish Policy Agency Conference
Supports Government Workers’ Right to Unionize

Government Workers dont ya know.jpg

February 14, 2020 -- The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) worked with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) to pass a resolution supporting the right of U.S. government workers to unionize and bargain collectively at the state and local government level, and to protect this right under Federal law.

This resolution was passed on Feb. 10th, at the 2020 annual conference of the JCPA, the national umbrella agency of American Jewish communal organizations. (The Jewish Labor Committee is a founding member organization of the JCPA.)

The Jewish Labor Committee submitted the resolution and secured co-sponsorship of other national and local Jewish community relations agencies affiliated with the JCPA, including the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Silicon Valley, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta.

This year's JCPA conference drew over 200 professionals and volunteers from across the United States. Sessions reflected the wide range of issues facing American Jews at the national and local level. JCPA, the national Jewish community relations network, represents 125 local Jewish community relations councils (JCRCs) and 17 national Jewish agencies, including organizations representing all four major Jewish religious denominations.

=== resolution reproduced below ===

Continue reading "National Jewish Policy Agency Conference
Supports Government Workers’ Right to Unionize
" »

Jewish Labor Committee Responds to Trump Plan

Trump Kushner Netanyahu group shot for web.jpg
Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)


January 30, 2020 - New York, NY: The Trump Plan is not a peace plan, but a cynical ploy which is likely to advance Israel's far right's annexation agenda and to bolster the election prospects of President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The Jewish Labor Committee has for decades supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  And we understand that only a negotiated, mutually agreed-upon accord  can be the basis for a meaningful, fair and just resolution of this decades-long conflict.

The plan released earlier this week by the Trump Administration is a heavy-handed attempt to bypass, rather than to resolve, this complicated conflict. We join the growing and diverse chorus of organizations, politicians and others who see in Trump’s plan nothing of real value, and the likelihood that it will make an equitable and mutually-acceptable solution less possible.  

This so-called “peace plan” appears to have been crafted in close consultation with the current Israeli government, that is, the Netanyahu administration, which has repeatedly put roadblocks in the way of substantial negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives.  The plan codifies elements of the current reality which are core to the conflict, and envisions making permanent all Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line. After annexing the land that these West Bank settlements occupy, Israel would exercise sovereignty over nearly half of the West Bank , where more than 2.6 million Palestinians and over 400,000 Israeli Jews now live. Although U.S. Ambassador David Friedman asserted recently that Israel “did not have to wait at all” to move ahead with this annexation, the Israeli Democracy Institute said on Wednesday that such a move was unlikely to be approved by Israel’s Supreme Court. We earnestly hope that the IDI is correct.

The plan envisions what has been described as an eviscerated, Swiss-cheese-like Palestinian entity. From all reports, the plan was cobbled together without any consultations with  the Palestinians, whose leadership is rejecting it out of hand.  And although the plan envisions that Jordan will continue to ensure the status quo covering holy sites on the Temple Mount / al-Haram al-Sharif, the Jordanians have also condemned the plan, and which therefore jeopardizes Jordan’s highly valued strategic cooperation with Israel. Moreover, despite President Trump's assurances that the plan will be supported by others in the region, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have stated that there can be no peace plan without the inclusion of Palestinians in its formulation.

Timing is everything: this is not a peace plan, but a cynical attempt to deflect attention from both the current impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, and the legal and political troubles of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The plan comes just weeks after a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the unilateral Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank, and reaffirming U.S. opposition to the expansion of Israeli settlements there – positions the Jewish Labor Committee supports.

The Jewish Labor Committee knows that negotiating difficult and apparently unresolvable conflicts is not easy.  However, the Trump Plan, not a serious proposal, runs counter to the real political and security needs of both Israel and the Palestinians, the two parties to the conflict. The JLC joins the many supporters of Israel who have studied the conflict and have worked for a peaceful resolution for decades in condemning the plan in the strongest terms.

JLC Calls for Solidarity & Inter-communal Cooperation Against Anti-Semitism

The most recent attack against Jews celebrating Hanukkah at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, NY, is just the most recent of a wave of anti-Semitic attacks against Jews, taking place in Jersey City, NJ, Brooklyn, NY, Poway, CA, and elsewhere. All of us must stand in solidarity with these communities in their time of need.
We know from our own history as an organization and our experience in more recent years that there is an urgent need for Jewish communities to have enough protection so that they are able to walk on the street, attend religious services, and go to and from school free from fear. The same is true, of course, for other minorities who have experienced acts of hatred because of their faith, immigrant status, race or ethnicity.
While it is challenging to understand why this is happening, and happening now, there are no justifications for, and we reject simple explanations of, such attacks.
Attacks against Jews, and others, based on their religious, ethnic, racial or cultural appearance are becoming more and more frequent. This is a difficult time not only for those in Hasidic communities but for all Jews, and for the larger community as well.
We understand that this is not a simple matter of ideological- or religious-based hatred. We must be on guard against demagogues exploiting a terrible and tragic situation for their own ends. We must work with others in our communities on vigorous and innovative efforts at deep and meaningful community relations, especially among communities that live in close proximity, and often experience inter-communal misunderstandings and tension.

JLC Joins 12 other U.S. Organizations in Call to Israeli Political Leadership to Oppose Support for Annexation

11.5-PIN-ANNEX-NO-logo.jpg

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - New York, NY: Earlier today, thirteen organizations – the coalition members of the Progressive Israel Network (PIN), as well as the Israel Policy Forum, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association – sent a letter to the heads of Israel’s political parties calling on them to refuse any kind of unilateral annexation of the West Bank or parts of it. The Jewish Labor Committee is a member of this coalition.

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, noted that: “Working men and women on both sides of the Green Line will not have their lives improved by annexation of land by the State of Israel - on the contrary, such moves will embitter many of those most directly affected, and make any fair, just, and mutually agreed-upon resolution all the more difficult. Bold steps towards peace and security, not short-term political maneuvering, must be the priority of all Israeli leaders and their supporters in that country and abroad.”

~~~

Letter to Israeli Political Leadership Opposing Annexation

As heads of American Jewish organizations who care deeply about the State of Israel and are committed to safeguarding its future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people, we implore you to consider the costs of any unilateral annexations in the West Bank, and ask that you refuse to support annexation as a policy guideline for any government that your party may join.

We recognize that political parties are currently immersed in the process of negotiating the makeup of, and determining the policy guidelines for, Israel’s next governing coalition. We are also aware that in recent months, leading parties have proposed annexing parts of the West Bank as a possible policy of Israel’s next government. Our own government, under President Donald Trump, has broken with prior administrations from both major parties in signaling that it may endorse such unilateral actions by Israel.

Mistaking such a “green light” from the president for any type of consensus on the part of either US political party would be a dangerous error for Israel. Annexation, and any actions that pave the way toward annexation, threaten not only Israel’s security and its hopes for peace, but pose a grave threat to its democratic character and international standing. Many of the leaders of Israel’s own military and intelligence communities have warned of their likely ramifications. They would push Israel further down a path to endless conflict and permanent occupation -- a path that runs counter to the shared democratic values and commitment to the pursuit of peace that have long formed the heart of the US-Israel relationship. Simply put, the approach of this president does not represent the long-term interests and likely future policy of the United States.

Continue reading "JLC Joins 12 other U.S. Organizations in Call to Israeli Political Leadership to Oppose Support for Annexation" »

Recently added to the Website