« Please vote NO - online poll re academic boycott of Israel and Stephen Hawking | Main | Philadelphia JLC at June 25th Rally to demand adequate funding for public education across the Keystone State. »

JLC Presents 2013 Human Rights Award to Bob King, President of the UAW, and Chris Shelton, VP of the CWA District 1

2013 JLC HRA Dinner group 4web.jpg

(l-r) UFCW President Joe Hansen, JLC Acting Executive Director Rita Freedman, CWA President Larry Cohen, JLC President Stuart Appelbaum, CWA Vice President, District One, Chris Shelton, AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and past President, CWA, Morton Bahr. All photos by Photo Miller Photography.

In front of a capacity audience of labor and community activists, the Jewish Labor Committee awarded its Human Rights Award to two prominent union leaders, Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers, and Chris Shelton, Vice President, Communications Workers of America District 1.

Chaired by Jewish Labor Committee President Stuart Appelbaum – who is President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union – the JLC program heard recurrent themes in presentations by Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, Joe Hansen, Chair of Change to Win and President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Larry Cohen President of the Communications Workers of America, and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers as well as the two honorees. Speaker after speaker focused clearly on the need for a large, active progressive coalition, with not only the labor movement but civil and human rights organizations, LGBT rights organizations, community activists and the progressive religious sector to work together as a unified, active force to combat the increasing inequality of wealth and power within the United States, and indeed around the world.

Speakers also praised the JLC as an organization that has always helped build such bridges for a progressive coalition and has always stood with the labor movement as a crucial vehicle for building the middle class and a more equitable society, from Cablevision workers in Brooklyn, NY to those who worked at the Agriprocessors kosher meat processing plant in Postville, IA. Coming from long but successful negotiations with counterparts in the business community on a national comprehensive immigration reform plan, President Trumka remarked that he was "pleased to be here as we celebrate the deep and vibrant ties between the labor movement and the Jewish community, and to reaffirm our shared vision, our collective responsibility, and our common struggle to make the world a better place. And that’s why, on behalf of the working men and women of the AFL-CIO, I’d like to express my profound gratitude to you, for who you are and what you do."

In explaining the role of the JLC, Appelbaum noted that the the organization “isn’t only a labor voice in the Jewish community; we’re also a Jewish voice in the House of Labor,” he said that “for the JLC it means in part, standing up for Israel and a peace process which respects both Israelis and Palestinians alike. The American labor movement has long understood that Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East; that Arab Israelis have the right to vote – and today serve in the Knesset and throughout the Israeli government; and that unlike every other country in that region, Israel has a free and democratic labor movement." While this does not mean all policies of the Israeli government have helped to promote peace. "Every new settlement on the West Bank does nothing but make it more difficult for moderate Palestinians to come to the bargaining table - we know that. But there’s only one way we can keep those settlements from being built - not by isolating Israel through boycotts and divestment, but instead by embracing and strengthening the Israeli peace movement."

The full text of Stuart Appelbaum's remarks appear here.
The full text of Richard Trumka's remarks appear here.