JLC Supports Bloomingdale's Workers' at Rally for Fair Contract

April 18th, 2017: New York, NY - Jewish Labor Committee joined a crowd of hundreds of unionized Bloomingdale's workers, other union members from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as elected officials at a mid-day rally for a fair contract for the members of Local 3 United Storeworkers, RWDSU, who work at the iconic New York store in the heart of Manhattan. The focus of the rally was an upcoming May 1st deadline for contract negotiations: key issues include fair commissions for in-store and online sales, fair wages, benefits and work schedules and hours, continuation of their existing pension plan and affordable healthcare coverage, and workers' seniority rights.

JLC Associate Director Arieh Lebowitz hits the street in the Big Apple.

Continue reading "JLC Supports Bloomingdale's Workers' at Rally for Fair Contract" »

JLC Condemns United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia's Report

March 20th, 2017: New York , NY - The Jewish Labor Committee today issued the following statement:

The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia's report that asserts that "Israel has established an apartheid regime." It is not surprising that the Commission, comprised entirely of 18 Arab states, most of which do not recognize Israel, would issue a report that appears to be the first time that apartheid has been used in document with the United Nations stamp to criticize Israel. Moreover, the authors included a former U.N. investigator, Richard Falk, who has regularly criticized Israel, and has, among other things, cast doubt on the “official version” of the 9/11 attacks as the work of Islamic terrorists. And the report was issued without it being cleared by relevant departments or the U.N. secretary general.

The analogy of Israeli policies and those of the former South African apartheid rule is factually wrong. While the internal movement of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is restricted by the Israeli government primarily for security reasons, the territories are governed by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, respectively. Within the State of Israel, the laws are the same for Jewish and Arab citizens.

We are encouraged that U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he had no advance knowledge of the report and that it did not reflect his views. He asked Rima Khalaf, a U.N. Undersecretary-General and the Commission's Executive Secretary, to take the report down from the Commission's website. She decided instead to resign from her position, which had been set to expire at the end of the month.

The U.N. spokesman made it clear that "[t]he Secretary-General cannot accept an undersecretary general or any other senior U.N. official that reports to him would authorize the publication, under the U.N. name, under the U.N. logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself."

We hope that this is an indication that there will be a more balanced and less discriminatory approach toward Israel at the United Nations going forward.

"How to Become a Labor Lawyer" - Rutgers Law School Program

Barbara Mehlsack speaks with students at Rutgers Newark Photo by Rachael Cain

March 7 2017: Newark, NJ -- Over 35 law students engaged in conversation this afternoon at Rutgers Law School with two attorneys on the challenging work of labor law. The Jewish Labor Committee, the local branch of the Jewish Law Student Association and the school's Labor and Employment Law Society organized the event.
Barbara Mehlsack, a litigation lawyer, spoke about her thirty years in the field, the skills she had to learn to effectively represent her clients, and the changing nature of the labor movement. Sam Wenocur, who graduated in 2010 from Cardozo Law School, spoke of his experiences as a plaintiff attorney, and how they related to experiences and values he first found at Camp Galil, a summer camp of the Habonim Dror Labor Zionist Youth Movement.
The Jewish Labor Committee organized a similar program for law students at the same campus in February, 2016; the JLC has also organized such events with Jewish Law Student Associations at NYU School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law (also in Newark), and Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia. [If you are interested in helping organize similar programs, just contact us at]

CALL TO ACTION: Urge your senators to reject Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel

TAKE ACTION: Call your senators and urge them to reject Friedman. Call (202) 224-3121 to be connected directly to your senators' office.


I am calling to urge you as a member of the U.S. Senate to stand against the appointment of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel.

He represents the most extreme factions within Israel and their supporters in the U.S., rather than the wide spectrum of views on Israeli politics. Furthermore, his appointment would be to the detriment of a two state solution.

We need an ambassador to Israel who will prioritize a two-state solution and re-invigorate the peace process, not one who will further impede it through support for the expansion of settlements and outposts beyond the Green Line. As a supporter of a two-state negotiated solution, I am calling to say that David Friedman will not further the peace process — and I urge you to reject his appointment.

JLC Opposes the Nomination of David M. Friedman to be the U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel

Continue reading "CALL TO ACTION: Urge your senators to reject Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel" »

Jewish Labor Committee Opposes Israel’s Settlement Expansion

Calls on Government, NGOs, to halt Expansion of Current and Establishment of New Settlements

February 2, 2017: New York, NY - The Jewish Labor Committee today issued the following statement:
The Jewish Labor Committee opposes the expansion of Jewish settlements within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, particularly the most recently-announced Israeli Government’s authorization of the construction of 2,500 new housing units in West Bank settlement. We also oppose the so-called settlements bill, now under consideration in the Knesset, which would retroactively legalize close to 4,000 settler homes that are on private Palestinian property in Area C of the West Bank.

The entire enterprise of enlarging existing and creating new settlements beyond the borders of the State of Israel is unwise, and harmful to the best interests of Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Such actions make a peacefully negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict harder to achieve. It is with alarm that we note that it is increasingly clear that elements within and outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, including the Prime Minister himself, are emboldened by the emerging shape and policies of President Trump’s new administration to expand Israel’s presence and assert its dominance in these areas.

Continue reading "Jewish Labor Committee Opposes Israel’s Settlement Expansion" »

JLC Opposes President Trump's Executive Order on Refugees

January 27th, 2017: New York, NY - The Jewish Labor Committee today issued the following statement:

The Jewish Labor Committee is dismayed at President Trump’s executive order to “block the entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied,” as reported recently by Reuters. These actions run counter to the best traditions of the United States, and counter to the pressing needs of not only American society but refugees seeking shelter from violence and oppression in other lands.

It is unacceptable that President Trump will bar people fleeing war and persecution While the proposal says it is aimed at refugees from certain countries where there is terrorism, it is likely to be interpreted as against Muslims. As Jews, we have been victims of religious and ethnic discrimination, and understand that these need to be combated, especially when they become government policy. These refugees need a sanctuary -- as we once needed a sanctuary -- and the United States cannot close the door on these victims of religious and ethnic violence and hatred.

The vast majority of today’s refugees are people in desperate need. Today, all refugees who are trying to get to the United States are screened very thoroughly by the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies before being allowed entry to the United States.

President Trump’s proposed actions, combined with proposals to build a wall and seal off the U.S. border with Mexico, will likely have no impact on national security – and may serve to weaken our economy and society.

We understand that any government has a right – and duty – to rationally regulate trade, and our borders. But putting out a Not Welcome sign to Latin America and Muslim countries will not improve the lives of workers in the United States, and certainly not improve the lives of workers in other lands.

We call on our unions, as well as ethnic, religious and other community organizations, to make every effort to counter the proposals regarding refugees of the Trump Administration. We will, and call on others to, make our voices heard through every means appropriate to today’s difficult political climate.

At the same time, we call on our members and the larger community to support the refugee aid groups which are both in the frontline of assisting current refugees and their families, and working to stop the proposed refugee policies of our Government, and strengthen the United States as a country of refuge and sanctuary.

JLC Opposes the Nomination of Andy Puzder to be U.S. Secretary of Labor

December 22, 2016 New York , NY The Jewish Labor Committee today issued the following statement:

The Jewish Labor Committee opposes the nomination of CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder to be the United States Secretary of Labor, as proposed by President-elect Donald Trump. It is unprecedented to appoint a corporate chief executive officer to this position, especially one who in his public statements, in the sexist advertising promoted by his company, and in his numerous writings has made clear he opposes most of the laws he will be sworn to enforce. A man who makes $17,912 in a day and who argues against a raise for minimum wage workers is not an acceptable Secretary of Labor.

Mr. Puzder has been CEO of a company which has been cited repeatedly for violations of our nation’s employment and safety laws. That alone should automatically disqualify him from becoming Secretary of Labor. When the Department of Labor conducted investigations of the 20 largest fast food brands, more than half of the CKE-affiliated restaurants investigated were found to have at least one wage and hours violation. The company admits in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it faces multiple class action lawsuits over violations of wage and hour laws. Since Mr. Puzder took over as CKE CEO in 2000, the company has been cited 98 times for safety violations, including 36 classified as “serious”, meaning risking death or grave physical harm to employees. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, has argued that it is "hard to think of anyone less suited for the job" and we agree that a CEO whose company has such a record of rampant violations of the law is not a credible enforcer of labor and employment laws against other employers.

On policy, Mr. Puzder has been an outspoken opponent of government taking action to help raise wages of low-income workers, including opposing expanding coverage of overtime rules and raising the minimum wage. We are deeply concerned that Mr. Puzder has publicly promoted predictions of job loss in cities and states that have raised the minimum wage, but seems to refuse to adjust his views now that those predictions of job loss have proven false in cities and states with higher minimum wages such as New York and California . There is no place for such a rigid anti-worker ideologue in the position of Secretary of Labor.

We ask the United States Senate to reject this nomination when it is asked to deliberate on it early in 2017.

JLC Opposes the Nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel

December 21, 2016, New York , NY The Jewish Labor Committee today issued the following statement:

The Jewish Labor Committee opposes the nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel, as proposed by President-elect Donald Trump. His many statements and actions over the years make it clear that he will not help, but rather impede, any meaningful progress towards a fair and just negotiated resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The Jewish Labor Committee opposes Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank , whether the establishment of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements. We support the consensus desire of most Israelis and Palestinians (long confirmed by polling data) for a reasonably negotiated, fair and secure two-state solution for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. It is essential that any U.S. ambassador to Israel be supportive of a two-state solution.
The nomination of David M. Friedman, President-elect Donald Trump’s bankruptcy attorney, to the sensitive post of United States Ambassador to the State of Israel is a serious mistake for several reasons. First and foremost, because Friedman is an active supporter of the West Bank settlement movement and has stated in very clear terms that he does not believe in a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinian people, we believe he is not an appropriate nominee for this crucial post.
Mr. Friedman has no experience in foreign policy or in diplomacy, and he doesn’t even seem to believe in diplomacy. This is best exemplified by his condemnation of the liberal pro-Israel organization J Street as “worse than Kapos” (Jews who were forced to collaborate with the Nazis in concentration camps) within the context of his refusal in advance to meet with J Street or other groups that believe in a two-state solution. This alone is a departure for American ambassadors to Israel , who traditionally are open to meeting with a wide spectrum of the American Jewish community.
We are deeply concerned that the incoming U.S. Administration apparently wants to go on record as endorsing the views of a supporter of the settlement enterprise who opposes a two-state solution This will communicate to Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and the entire international community that the US is no longer interested in using its good offices to promote a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And we cannot see how the status quo will move forward without at least the supportive involvement of the United States .
Friedman’s attitudes and positions are contrary to what have been the bi-partisan policies of the United States for decades. Rejecting a two-state solution would doom Israel ’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
If the incoming United States Senate effectively repudiates a peaceful two-state solution by confirming Mr. Friedman’s unwise appointment, this would dangerously and unnecessarily inflame extremist passions against both the United States and Israel . We would not want to see the incoming administration get off to such a bad start, in one fell swoop endangering our national security and that of the State of Israel, and undermining efforts toward Mideast stability.
For all of these reasons, we oppose the nomination of David M. Friedman to be the United States Ambassador to the State of Israel, and ask the United States Senate to reject this nomination when it is asked to deliberate on it early in 2017.

Philadelphia: Panel Discussion on "Immigration, Xenophobia and Labor"


December 19, 2016: Philadelphia, PA - Jewish Labor Committee hosted a panel discussion this evening on "Immigration, Xenophobia and Labor." Seventy people, many of them new to the JLC, showed up to hear PA State Senator Daylin Leach, UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV, the Executive Director of HIAS PA, Cathryn Miller-Wilson, and the Executive Director of the Northeast Region of the ADL, Nancy Baron Baer.
"While moderate and progressive organizations are clamoring to figure out how to collaborate in order to face the coming administration, JLC is paving the way by bringing together high ranking members of the PA State government, the and the local Jewish and labor communities," related Philadelphia JLC Regional Director Michael Hersch. "Though we’re all concerned about what the future holds, what’s remarkable is our collective commitment to work and fight together to preserve those democratic and inclusive values we all hold dear."

JLC at NYC Rally and March for Immigrant Rights

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JLC Associate Director Arieh Lebowitz at rally next to Make The Road New York representatives.

December 18, 2016: New York, NY - The Jewish Labor Committee joined with hundreds of other people at an #ImmigrantNY rally at Manhattan's Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in support of immigrants and immigrants' rights. Organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, over 80 local and national community, ethnic, religious and political organizations participated; many continued on to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Philadelphia JLC at Fight for $15 Demo in Center City


November 30, 2016: Philadelphia, PA - Last night, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee Director Michael Hersch (right in photo above), long-time local PJLC Board member Bill Epstein (left), formerly of UFCW Local 1776 joined with Laura Wentz (center), President of the Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women and several local CLUW members to support the local Fight for $15 campaign. The event in Philadelphia was part of a nationwide happening in 340 cities. Marking the fourth anniversary of what is being called the “Fight for $15” movement, fast food workers, home care workers, educators, airport workers and others rallied for a raised minimum wage to a living wage of at least $15, the right to join a union respected, and better working conditions. “Fight for 15” has expanded to include not only fast food workers, but also employees at various workplaces across North America, encompassing airport workers, maintenance staffs, and home health care workers.

Open Letter to President-elect Donald Trump from Jewish American Organizations

November 18, 2016

Today, the Jewish Labor Committee joined with other American Jewish organizations in a joint letter to President-elect Donald Trump. Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear President-elect Trump,

We write on behalf of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Jewish Americans deeply committed to the values that underpin our people’s faith, our country’s democracy and our relationship with the people and state of Israel. We wish to raise several serious concerns based on issues and events from the recent campaign.

For centuries, Jews have lived as minorities in the lands of other people. As Americans, we recognize how blessed we are to live in a land that respects religious liberty and works to guarantee freedom and opportunity for all. As Jews, we have been proud to help lead our nation’s steady march to fulfill its founding promise that all people are created equal—a promise that echoes the biblical assertion that all human beings are equal creations in the divine image. We have played, and continue to play, a vital role in the process of perfecting our still-imperfect laws that guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all.

Based on our community’s experience, we begin by strongly condemning the many instances of anti-Semitism – both subtle and overt – that appeared around your Presidential campaign. We have been deeply concerned by words and actions during the campaign that attacked and offended Americans on the basis of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. Expressions of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny and other forms of prejudice, in and around your campaign, threatened to undermine our nation’s core values and to erode our people’s shared sense of what it means to be an American.

As President, we expect that you will make it absolutely clear that you emphatically reject anti-Semitism in all forms, and that you are committed to ensuring the religious freedom that is at the heart of America’s identity. Further, we call on you to forcefully and consistently reiterate our nation’s commitment to respect the rights of all citizens and to fight discrimination in all of its ugly and un-American forms. All American citizens have the right to expect no less from our nation’s highest elected leader.

Like you, American Jews are the descendants of immigrants. We believe that immigration and successful integration of newcomers into the fabric of American society has been key to our country’s strength and prosperity. Because many of our families arrived in this country as refugees fleeing persecution—and because so many died when the borders closed, we are committed to defending our country’s identity as a land of refuge.

As such, we will not support efforts to limit or foreclose access to this great country on the basis of a person’s religious faith or country of origin. We also oppose efforts to punish those who have made and continue to make great contributions to our society, but who are here without the required documentation, often because of the near impossibility of securing a legal visa.

Finally, as Jewish Americans, we are committed to our country maintaining a strong relationship with the State of Israel – one that must be grounded in our shared values and shared interests. We, and an overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans, support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an active role for the United States in achieving this vision. We expect the State of Israel to embody democratic principles, as enshrined by its Declaration of Independence and an active role for the United States in efforts to defend those principles.

We cannot support an abandonment of America’s fundamental policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – which have been recognized as vital to American national interest and supported by Presidents of both parties for 50 years. We therefore have been alarmed by changes in the Republican Platform, as well as statements by your key advisors on Israel, which eliminate the goals of the two-state solution and creation of a Palestinian state living at peace with Israel.

As you prepare to take office, we call on you to commit to be a President for all Americans – including those who did not support you.

We call on you to be a President who protects all Americans, including and especially those in more vulnerable communities who, based on the tenor of the campaign we’ve just experienced and the upsurge in hate crimes, are increasingly afraid for themselves, their families and their children.

We call on you to protect the great traditions of our country that have been a beacon to “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

And we call on you to staff your administration with individuals who exhibit excellence and empathy, and a commitment to protecting the security, honor and dignity of all American regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation. Your recent decision to appoint Stephen Bannon to the post of Senior Counselor and Strategist in the White House runs counter to these principles and should be rescinded for the sake of the American people and the honor of the government of the United States.

As you begin your term we are certain that you will find willing partners in the Jewish community to join with your administration if it follows a path that upholds and defends the principles of fairness, justice and freedom on which this country was built.

But, we will not stand idly by if you choose to take actions that violate human rights, or that reverse the progress we have made at home and abroad. You will find us as powerful opponents of any effort to undermine these gains.

Continue reading "Open Letter to President-elect Donald Trump from Jewish American Organizations" »

Human Rights Awards Dinner November 14, 2016 in NYC

HRA Email.jpeg

Make your reservations to participate in this event: click here for an RSVP form outlining your choices for attendance and program sponsorship packages.
Just fill in the form, print it out, and either send it back to us via fax to 212-477-1918, as an email attachment to, or by mail to
Jewish Labor Committee – 140 West 31st Street, 3rd Floor – New York, NY 10001

Any questions, just call us at 212-477-0707 or email at

Professors Over Profit: Philadelphia JLC Support Pennsylvania’s Faculty


October 20, 2016: Philadelphia, PA - For the first time in 34 years, thousands of faculty from state universities across Pennsylvania went on strike. Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee Regional Director Michael Hersch and PJLC board members Ben Waxman and Sylvia and Norman Lieberman joined academics from Westchester and Cheyney universities on the picket line at 8th and Market in Philadelphia. On October 27th, an agreement has been reached between the state's public higher education system and APSCUF, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union.

Continue reading "Professors Over Profit: Philadelphia JLC Support Pennsylvania’s Faculty" »

Enough is Enough! New England JLC Supports Harvard Dining Services Workers

NE JLC at first day of the Harvard University Dining Services workers' strike Oct 5 2016.jpg

Photo courtesy New England Jewish Labor Committee

September 28, 2016: Cambridge, MA – After four months, 19 negotiations, and zero progress, the dining service workers of Harvard University are fed up. As of Wednesday, these workers have gone on strike. With placards in hand and a drive to help the disenfranchised, the New England Jewish Labor Committee marched in solidarity with the workers on the picket line.

750 of the workers are represented by UNITE HERE Local 26. The union is asking for workers to receive a salary of $35,000 a year for those who wish to work year-round, and an affordable health care plan. Since the expiration of their previous contract on September 17th, the university has not entertained the union’s propositions. Harvard officials claim that the workers already make more than the usual amount for most food services workers in the area. They also claim that the changes to the health care plan, which would increase out-of-pocket expenses for the workers, are minute, for the university would cover up to 87 percent of the premiums. However, it appears that the university does not take into consideration how these changes affect its employees. A dining hall worker makes just a little over $30,000 before taxes. Many only get to work eight months out of the year, and are laid off during the summer. Not receiving a paycheck for four months along with the increased out-of-pocket healthcare expense would be devastating to many of the employees, especially those with health issues.

Continue reading "Enough is Enough! New England JLC Supports Harvard Dining Services Workers" »

Best Wishes for the New Year

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

2015 September Happy New Year.jpg

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

On The Passing of Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres 4 web.jpg

September 28, 2016: New York, NY - Jewish Labor Committee President Stuart Appelbaum issued the following statement on the passing of Shimon Peres, former President of the State of Israel:

The Jewish Labor Committee joins with the people of Israel in mourning the passing of Shimon Peres. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, and indeed to the entire country to which he devoted his life.
He was one of the last of the giants of Israel's founding generation. As a young man, he served as a key aide to David Ben-Gurion, Israel 's first prime minister. He served Israel in numerous capacities, including twice as prime minister and finally as president of the State of Israel.
In the 1980s, he is credited with having ended Israel's rampant inflation and to have stabilized the economy, an achievement of special significance for Israel's working and middle classes, and the country's labor movement. He supported a vision for the future of Israeli society that helped develop that country's breakthrough hi-tech industry.
Among his many achievements while in government, he can be remembered not only for having strengthened Israel’s security in a variety of posts including as Defense Minister, but more significantly for his work in his in later years as a leading voice for peace. His efforts for peace continued as he as he presided over the withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of Lebanon in the mid-1980s, and he subsequently worked to forge a peace agreement with the Palestinians in a just way. His efforts in forging the Oslo Accords earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, but tragic and violent events undermined his efforts
Over seven decades of public service in key positions, Shimon Peres conducted himself with dignity and civility, a shining example for the world, and, for many of us, a keeper of the dream of humanism, of discourse, and of dialogue.
He will be missed, but his vision continues.

New England JLC joins demo for a good contract for MA & RI janitors

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Spencer Beswick, Hannah Nahar, Lior Appel-Kraut, Joanna Dimas and others at Boston Common

September 10, 2016: Boston, MA - The New England JLC stood with 3,000 janitors, faith leaders, students, and community members to call for a good contract for 13,000 janitors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke out about the need for fair wages, health insurance, and respect on the job for 32BJ SEIU janitors and all workers. She told demonstrators that their plight was personal to her "because her father was a janitor.
“ `I saw firsthand how hard he worked,” she said. “I saw how backbreaking it was and I saw how underappreciated his work was. I also saw how important a paycheck is to keep a family together.' ”
"Unfortunately workers in this industry still struggle to make ends meet they are among the lowest paid workers in Massachusetts," noted Roxana Rivera, Vice President, SEIU.
"The industry in Massachusetts is still heavily part-time," Rivera added, "so workers have to pile up other jobs in order to make ends meet."
Thanks to Tufts Labor Coalition students for coming out in the rain and marching with us!

Happy Labor Day!


The Jewish Labor Committee wishes everyone a happy Labor Day Weekend. This holiday has many meanings in the United States - a long weekend, a barbeque with friends and family, or the last day to wear those white pants you got on sale.

For us, and many others across the country, Labor Day means so much more - not only a day off for workers, but a day to celebrate the accomplishments of the labor movement, to remember those who fought and sacrificed to secure many of the things that we take for granted, including an eight-hour workday, the right to unionize, even the two-day weekend - and also a day off to go catch that Labor Day Weekend sale.

Continue reading "Happy Labor Day!" »

A Step Back for Palestinian Workers’ Rights and for Israeli Democracy

Palestinians working at a grove of date palms in the Jordan Valley. Photo Credit: Michal Fattal

Aug. 23, 2016 - Haaretz: Israel’s justice minister has recently instituted a new regulation that will undermine the right of Palestinians living in the West Bank who are employed by Israelis – in Israel or the West Bank – to seek legal redress for abusive and unlawful labor practices. 

The Jewish Labor Committee opposes this new regulation, explicitly designed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, both of the right-wing, pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi party, to prevent Palestinian employees of Israeli businesses from benefiting from Israel’s progressive labor laws. We call on the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court to act forthrightly to defend these workers’ just rights to fair labor practices, and nullify the new regulation. 

Under the new requirement, non-citizens will be obligated to make a monetary deposit before submitting a lawsuit against an employer in Israeli labor court, unless they can immediately present evidence proving their claim. If they cannot do so, the deposit will be forfeited. Such a measure would primarily affect Palestinians living in the West Bank – most notably those who work on Israeli-owned farms in the Jordan Valley, who will greatly suffer the consequences – by placing a heavy financial burden on those who seek to sue their Israeli employers for labor-law violations. Israeli farmers in the valley, who in the past have been sued for labor law violations, have applauded this new measure.  

As an organization that cares about Israel’s future as a democratic and progressive society, this matters to us, and should matter to others as well. 

Continue reading "A Step Back for Palestinian Workers’ Rights and for Israeli Democracy" »

1936: Anti-Nazi World Labor Athletic Carnival Held in NYC

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(Jewish Labor Committee collection, Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives / Tamiment Library, New York University)

August 16, 2016 - New York, NY: We mark the anniversary of the World Labor Athletic Carnival, held on August 15th and 16th at New York’s Randall’s Island, to protest the holding of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. The two day event, organized by the Jewish Labor Committee with the active support and cooperation of a number of unions and labor bodies, brought over 400 athletes from across the country to compete in what became known as the “Counter-Olympics.” Honorary co-chairs of the event included New York Governor Herbert Lehman, NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, American Federation of Labor President William Green and Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, former President of the Amateur Athletics Union of the United States and a leader of the “Move the Olympics” movement, who resigned from the American Olympic Committee to protest holding of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Chairing the Labor Committee of the Carnival was Isidore Nagler, Vice President of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Continue reading "1936: Anti-Nazi World Labor Athletic Carnival Held in NYC" »

Massachusetts Passes Most-Comprehensive State Equal Pay Law

At a New England JLC Labor Seder Photo from the New England Jewish Labor Committee

August 4, 2016: Boston, MA (via Press Associates Union News Service) - With bipartisan support, the Massachusetts legislature passed and GOP Gov. Charlie Baker signed the most-comprehensive state equal pay for equal work law in the U.S., on August 1.

The state AFL-CIO, the New England Jewish Labor Committee, 9to5 and Jobs with Justice were among the large coalition that pushed the law. It would, for the first time, bar employers from demanding past salary figures from job applicants and screening applicants based on past pay. Both demands and screening hurt female job applicants.

Instead, the employer must present salary figures, which the job-seeker could accept or reject. The new law takes effect at the start of 2018.

That’s not all. The new law also “seeks to help eliminate the gender wage gap in Massachusetts by providing a more comprehensive definition of comparable work” than just exactly equal jobs, its sponsoring coalition says.

And it orders firms to let workers “discuss salaries without the threat of retaliation and eliminates the practice of requiring salary history on job applications,” said its leading backers, the Equal Pay Coalition and the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Passes Most-Comprehensive State Equal Pay Law" »

Chicago educators visit Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Photo by Sarah Spiro

June 28, 2016: Skokie, IL - To educate Chicago public school teachers on both the historical record of the Holocaust and on issues of racism and bullying, Chicago Jewish Labor Committee Regional Director Eli Fishman arranged for a group of 22 Chicago Teachers Union members to participate in a docent-led tour today of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skoke, IL. The Chicago JLC has organized similar tours for the past four years; nearly 100 Chicago-area teachers have attended such programs.

Jewish Labor Committee Condemns Mass Shooting In Orlando

June 14, 2016: New York, NY - The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the mass shooting in Orlando, FL, which targeted the LGBT community. We send our condolences to the families of those who were killed, and our wishes for a full recovery to those injured.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBT people who were the direct targets of this terrorist attack, and the larger communities that they represent, sadly, by this most recent act of terrorist violence. For this attack was not solely aimed at those who were in that club on that night, but by extension a much larger target.

This was not just an attack on the LGBT communities of Orlando, but on freedom itself, on the basic principles of cultural openness, diversity and tolerance. Indeed, our way of life.

But standing with the victims of this latest outrage is not enough. These attacks have to be themselves attacked on many fronts:

• In the United States, serious gun control laws to restrict access to automatic weapons must be enacted on the federal and state level, and more serious penalties against those who own illegally-secured weapons, and use weapons in the commission of a crime, must be enacted. The power of the gun lobby must be challenged and curtailed. Too many times, easy access to weapons has led to them being in the hands of people with religious, political, racist or personal grudges who are taking them out against innocent victims.

• Homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia must be all be challenged wherever they rear their ugly heads, and we call on leaders in our communities and organizations to speak out clearly and consistently on this.

• Internationally, Islamist extremism, with religious and political components, provides inspiration to as well as support for terrorist acts such as that in Orlando. The full weight of the free world must be brought to bear to break its hold in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. At the same time, we recognize and remind others that radical Islamism is an extreme minority movement within the Muslim world, and does not represent the mainstream of Islam. We cannot allow the struggle against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other similar movements to devolve into or in any way legitimize Islamophobia.

It is time for Americans of every background to reject intolerance, and to come together and to cherish diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect as members of one community.

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