Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Standing Up For Workers & Jewish Tradition

Halacha vs "Right To Work": Avram Lyon is the former executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee and a consultant to unions, foundations, and Jewish organizations.  In an Op-Ed piece for the New Jersey Jewish News, Lyon writes:
Since the 2010 election we have witnessed an explosion of partisan, ideologically driven behavior in state politics unlike anything experienced in our lifetime. Governors and legislators in 11 states have introduced, or announced plans to introduce, legislation deceptively called “Right to Work.” These laws are designed to eviscerate worker rights to form or join a union, bargain collectively, or negotiate for pensions and benefits. At the core of this ideological disagreement is a false choice: it’s “them” (overpaid public employees) or “us” (taxpayers).
 Lyon further states:
Halacha — Jewish law — is explicit and unequivocal in its support of the rights of workers to organize and be protected in their work.
Abq Jew's grandfather Harry Wise, of blessed memory, was a Wobbly - a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).  Other family members (including Morris Rosenfield z"l, for whom Abq Jew is named)  and friends (such as Simon Typograph z"l) were also active in the garment industry unions.  Our family has done pretty well in America - but we also remember where we came from, who got us to where we are now, and how they struggled to do it.

Abq Jew wishes that employers hated unions so bad that they made working conditions so good that unions could not take hold - but he has seen little evidence that the Messiah has arrived.

Abq Jew wishes that unions were not necessary - but they are. And he firmly adheres to Lyon's view that supporting unions and workers' rights is a very Jewish thing to do:
There is, then, an imperative not just in Jewish tradition, but in Jewish law as well, to support workers’ rights. Workers today need protections — now more than ever — to survive in this era of partisan political fighting.
You can, and should, read the complete Op-Ed here.

No comments: