On the Carnage in Pittsburgh

Jewish Labor Committee Sends Condolences to Tree of Life Congregation
Condemns Domestic Terrorist Act in Pittsburgh and the Climate that Breeds It

October 27, 2018: New York, NY -- The Jewish Labor Committee sends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed by the domestic terrorist who attacked the Tree of Life Congregation during Shabbat services earlier today, and to the entire congregation and the larger community.

This violent terrorist act in Pittsburgh was not the first, although it was the largest such attack against the American Jewish community. Deflecting people's fears, frustrations and anxieties toward Jews, refugees or any minority in society is not new.

We are mindful that this terrorist act was motivated not only by hatred of Jews, but also by hatred of refugees and other migrants, and of those organizations, congregations, and communities aiding them. And this bigotry did not arise from nowhere. Anti-refugee sentiment, expressed in hate-filled rhetoric by the most senior members of the government, has been echoed and amplified in social media and given legitimacy by the mainstream press. The coded messages of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia are given free rein not only in extreme alt-right shadows, but increasingly in the conservative mainstream.

The rapid rise of anti-Semitic acts in the United States, including this most recent case of domestic terrorism by a hate-filled home-grown extremist, must be condemned and rejected not only by those directly affected, but by all Americans. We call on all men and women of good will to join us in rejecting anti-Semitism, and all manifestations of racial, ethnic, religious and political bigotry. Not only in Pittsburgh, but across the United States, we need to stand together and confront such hatred, and the violence it breeds.

You're Invited!

2018 HRA Dinner Save the Date 4 Website.jpg

Reception 6 p.m. - Dinner 7 p.m.

Make your reservations now. Click HERE for an RSVP form.
Just fill in the form, print it out, and either send it back to us via fax — 212-477-1918 — or as an email attachment to dinner@jewishlabor.org.

You may make your reservation using a credit card: space is on the RSVP form, and you can also send us an email and write where to call you and when would be good.

Program ads and RSVP Deadline: November 12, 2018
Any questions, just call us at 212-477-0707.

Best wishes for the New Year!

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 good and sweet year - a more peaceful,
more just, fairer and better year.

Israeli Identity Politics vs. a Democratic Israel

Monday, July 23, 2018: New York , NY -- The Jewish Labor Committee deplores the divisive measures recently adopted by Israel ’s parliament. The Knesset has narrowly passed a new Basic Law (akin to a constitutional amendment) proclaiming that Israel is the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” where the “right to exercise national self-determination is unique” to Jews. Arab and Jewish members of the Knesset loudly denounced this law, some calling it “racist.” While we disagree with this assessment, we share their condemnation of this new law, and call on other friends of the State and people of Israel to do the same. At a time when democracy, respect for diversity, and solidarity are under threat around the world, and there is no visible movement towards a mutually acceptable negotiated two-state resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, the passage of such a law seems doubly ill-conceived and ill-timed.

Continue reading "Israeli Identity Politics vs. a Democratic Israel" »

JLC, ADL and Penn State University Start Anti-Bias Educational Program in Philadelphia

June 18, 2018: Philadelphia, PA -- The Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and the Labor School at Penn State University, held its first anti-bias training in many years at the offices of Workers United/AFL-CIO in Philadelphia. The participants in this four-hour pilot program came from several unions, including SAG-AFTRA, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), AFSCME Council 47, and others, as well as a number of community groups.

Philadelphia JLC, the ADL, the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and Penn State University's Labor School joined together last year to create this anti-bias educational program, led by professional facilitators from the ADL, organized primarily for union members, to help understand and challenge bias, and promote tolerance and respect for diversity in the labor movement, and in our communities.

This new initiative of the Philadelphia JLC hearkens back to the JLC-organized Labor Committees to Combat Intolerance in some two dozen communities across North American from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s.

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Continue reading "JLC, ADL and Penn State University Start Anti-Bias Educational Program in Philadelphia" »

JLC Deplores Supreme Court's Janus v AFSCME Council 31 Decision

June 27, 2018: New York, NY -- The Jewish Labor Committee deplores today’s decision in Janus v AFSCME Council 31. The Court overturned a 41-year unanimous decision (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education) that held that union “fair share” fees are constitutional. Today, the court ruled that anything that a union representing public employee does to improve working conditions – any effort to improve safety in the workplace, to restrict excessive overtime, to ensure fair wages or otherwise improve workers’ lives on the job – is political and that "fair share" payments to cover these union services are a violation of fee payers’ free speech.

Unions are required by law to represent and negotiate on behalf of all public employees – members and nonmembers alike. So everyone who benefits should contribute to the cost of representational activities like contract negotiations and grievance representation. Before this case, no one was forced to be a union member or pay any fees that fund political activities. Fair share fees enabled employees who didn’t want to contribute in any way towards the union’s political and lobbying activities to pay a lower amount that excluded any dues money spent on such activities.

Non-members will now be able to “free ride” on the dues paid by their coworkers and deprive unions of the resources needed to fight for worker rights in the workplace.

This, of course, is the goal of the network of anti-union and wealthy special interests that was behind this case: to weaken the labor movement. Unions stand up for working people. The goal of the virulently anti-union organizations that pushed this case was in their words to “defund and defang” unions in order to undermine their power.

The court clearly relied more on politics than jurisprudence in deciding this case. We urge all public employees to become union members and stand with their coworkers in the fight for social and economic justice.

National Faith-Labor Leadership Passover Seder Held in Memphis, TN

Program Coincides with 50th Anniversary of Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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April 4, 2018: Memphis, TN -- After bells tolled in this city for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Jewish Labor Committee helped commemorate history: the JLC, AFSCME, the I AM 2018 coalition, and the Church of God in Christ hosted a unique Labor Seder here in Memphis. It combined the observance of Passover with a rededication to the work, words, and legacy of Dr. King. Over 100 people participated in this National Faith-Labor Leadership Passover Seder at the very meeting place where Dr. King and the Memphis sanitation workers gathered five decades earlier to secure the right to organize and bargain collectively. Jewish community figures, labor leaders, organizers, clergy of many traditions and others joined to explore the Passover imagery and themes of the Exodus that often imbued Dr. King’s words. The meeting place, Memphis's Clayborn Temple, a former Presbyterian and AME church and now a nonprofit cultural center for the community, was the starting point for marches and meetings in 1968 by striking AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers and their supporters.

Continue reading "National Faith-Labor Leadership Passover Seder Held in Memphis, TN" »

Happy Passover and Good Friday!


Dear friends,
As the first night of Passover and Good Friday fall on the same day this year, we wish our members and friends observing these holidays a sweet and meaningful Passover and a happy Easter.
Jewish tradition tells us that we should remember our treatment as resident foreigners (“strangers”) in ancient Egypt and thus treat others fairly and justly.
This is especially true, as we understand the text, in today’s society, whether in the United States, Europe, or the Middle East.
And so we support efforts in the U.S. to raise wages for the least-well-paid among us, often immigrant and migrant workers, and to raise the minimum wage, and to enact comprehensive immigration reform, to decrease income and wealth inequality, to end discrimination and to promote dignity, security and representation on the job and in the larger community.

Jewish Labor Committee Denounces Janus Court Case against Public Sector Workers

February 26, 2018: New York, NY - As attorneys argue a U.S Supreme Court case today that could decimate public sector unionism in the United States, the Jewish Labor Committee denounces the forces at work behind this lawsuit and supports the efforts of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to defend against it.

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 was backed by conservative industrialists and think tanks, including Richard Uihlein, an Illinois shipping supply magnate, and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Under current law, public sector unions generally have the right to collect a fee, a “fair share,” from all workers they represent in collective bargaining. No worker is required to join the union. Moreover, both union members and fair share participants can opt out of paying political action or other costs not associated with contract issues.

Jonathan D. Rosenblum, executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee stated: “In most of the world, the ‘right to work’ means the right to obtain a sustaining job. Only in America has that term been hijacked to mean the right to defect from community by refusing to support with dues payments (or service fees) the elected workplace association-- that is, the union.”

Rosenblum added: “The Janus case is part of a long-standing campaign by conservatives to undermine quality state-based public sector jobs that historically have been especially important to women and minorities."

Continue reading "Jewish Labor Committee Denounces Janus Court Case against Public Sector Workers" »

“Let My People Stay”

January 17, 2018: Washington DC - Over 100 Jews who have travelled from all across the United States are in DC TODAY to join the brave immigrant activists fighting to pass a clean Dream Act and protect a generation of Dreamers from deportation. Inspired by the ancient cry of our ancestors seeking liberation, we will demand: “Let My People Stay.”

The Jewish Labor Committee's New England Co-chair, Rabbi Barbara Penzner, with Bend the Arc Jewish Action, is leading the Jewish community in a bold, escalated civil disobedience action in Washington TODAY 1/17 at 10:30 EST in solidarity with the immigrant community.

WATCH LIVE ON FACEBOOK HERE: http://www.jewishaction.us/117live

To show Speaker Paul Ryan, Leader Mitch McConnell, and members of Congress that the Jewish community strongly supports protections for immigrants and opposes white supremacy.

Graphic, by Erik Brandt, via Temple Hillel B'nai Torah's Immigrant and Refugee Solidarity Committee. For more information on the image, go here.
#LetMyPeopleStay #DACA #DreamActNow #CleanDreamActNow

Jewish Organizations Call on Senate to Advance Burma Sanctions to Address Crisis of the Rohingya People

Broad coalition of Jewish groups and leaders pen letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of Burma sanctions, refugee assistance and accountability around crimes against the Rohingya people

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Photograph courtesty American Jewish World Service

January 5, 2018: Today, a broad coalition of organizations from across the Jewish community — including leaders of major organizations and the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox movements — released a letter urging the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to advance the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2017 (S. 2060). Twenty-four national organizations, including American Jewish World Service, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish Labor Committee, signed this letter, alongside 48 local organizations and 246 rabbis and communal leaders. The letter urges Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and Ranking Member Ben Cardin to champion this legislation, advance it through the Committee process, and ensure its passage in the full Senate.

Continue reading "Jewish Organizations Call on Senate to Advance Burma Sanctions to Address Crisis of the Rohingya People" »

JLC and Anti-Extremism Workshop in St. Louis at AFL-CIO Quadrennial Convention

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New England JLC Director Marya Axner and (l-r) St. Louis Islamic Foundation leader; Dr. Ghazala Hayat, AFSCME Local 199 President Se'Adoreia "CeeCee" Brown; Interfaith Worker Justice policy advisor Julian Medrano

October 23, 2017: St. Louis, MO -- As part of the quadrennial AFL-CIO National Convention in St. Louis in October, we helped to create and staff a “post-Charlottesville” workshop on racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. On October 23, 2017, more than 40 national delegates -- including Native American, Latino/a and African-American attendees -- heard presentations by JLC President Stuart Appelbaum and New England JLC Regional Director Marya Axner. Other speakers included St. Louis Islamic Foundation leader Dr. Ghazala Hayat, AFSCME Local 199 President Se'Adoreia “CeeCee” Brown, and Interfaith Worker Justice policy advisor Julian Medrano. AFSCME President Lee Saunders attended the workshop.

Mr. Appelbaum opened the workshop, calling for attendees to speak out and stand strong whenever racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other expressions of bigotry or identity-hatred rear their heads. Ms. Axner spoke about the history of anti-Semitism and its current manifestations. She pointed out that anti-Semitism has long been used to divert workers from uniting to fight for their rights and address the problems of economic inequality.

Human Rights Awards Dinner November 2nd, 2017, in NYC

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Reception 6 p.m. - Dinner 7 p.m.
Make your reservations now. Click HERE for an RSVP form.
Just fill in the form, print it out, and either send it back to us via fax — 212-477-1918 — or as an email attachment to dinner@jewishlabor.org.
You may make your reservation using a credit card: space is on the RSVP form, and you can also send us an email and write where to call you and when would be good.

Any questions, just call us at 212-477-0707.

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.

Jewish Labor Committee Condemns President Trump Rescission of DACA

Education not Deportation photo via  Jobs with Justice.jpg
Photo courtesy Jobs With Justice

September 7, 2017: New York , NY - The Jewish Labor Committee condemns President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

This program gave 800,000 young people — children and teens who had arrived in the U.S. ten or more years ago at age 15 or younger — a chance to legally study or work.

“It is inexplicable and unconscionable that we would again upend their lives and return these young people to limbo,” said JLC President Stuart Appelbaum. Appelbaum called on Congress to promptly pass legislation assuring continued legal status for these “Dreamers.”

“Our ancestors were the Biblical 'strangers in a strange land,’ ” said Appelbaum, who is also the President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “As we move from Labor Day to the High Holidays, we recall our own American immigrant stories. By closing doors, canceling promises, and building walls, we betray our moral and ethical obligations to these young people.”

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Protest against announced repeal of DACA, NYC, ‎Sept. ‎6‎, ‎2017 Photo by Harrie van Veen/Creative Commons

JLC Marches in Chicago on Labor Day 2017

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JLC Executive Director Jonathan D. Rosenblum (black t-shirt, holding JLC placard), Chicago JLC Area Director Eli Fishman (in sunglasses), and Chicago JLC Chair Mike Perry (holding JLC placard)

September 4, 2017: Chicago, IL -- Jewish Labor Committee staff and lay-activists joined thousands of union members and other workers fighting for a fair wage and union rights on the job at today’s Fight For $15 Labor Day Rally in Chicago’s Loop. Chicago JLC participated in a Jewish Contingent, along with Chicago’s Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the Chicago Workmen’s Circle branch.

Activists at the rally included Moral Monday founder The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, The Reverend Jesse Jackson, former Governor Pat Quinn, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois president Greg Kelley.

Continue reading "JLC Marches in Chicago on Labor Day 2017" »

Happy Labor Day!

Graphic by Brittney Willis.

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 most of all means a day to celebrate workers and to restate the goals and accomplishments of the labor movement. We 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.

Continue reading "Happy Labor Day!" »

"Philly is Charlottesville"

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Photograph via Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee

August 16, 2017: Philadelphia, PA - Thousands of Philadelphians gathered at Congregation Rodeph Shalom to begin a their trek down Broad Street in protest of white supremacy and in solidarity with the victims of the previous week’s confrontation in Charlottesville, VA. The Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee participated with scores of other social justice and faith-based organizations.

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Protestors gather outside of Arch Street United Methodist Church after marching down Broad Street as part of the "Philly Is Charlottesville" rally. Photograph by Kriston Jae Bethell

Jewish Labor Committee Condemns Bigotry, Prejudice, Racism, and Anti-Semitism in Wake of Violence in Charlottesville

August 15, 2017: New York , NY - In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville this past weekend, Jewish Labor Committee President Stuart Appelbaum issued the following statement:

The Jewish Labor Committee joins with all people of good will in our outrage at the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounding the so-called “Unite the Right” rally on August 12, 2017. There is no place in our society for bigotry, prejudice, racism, and anti-Semitism. This language and those people who espouse it must be condemned at every turn.

Our heart goes out to the victims of the neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists who marched shouting hateful slogans against African-Americans and Jews.

They must be condemned, and defeated, in the press, on the streets, in the classrooms, in the workplaces, and in the halls of government, from the highest levels in the White House to every town hall and union hall across the United States.

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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.

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.

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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 info@jewishlabor.org]

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" »

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