Jewish Labor Committee Joins #GivingTuesday

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Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday has grown into a global giving event on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. On December 1st, the Jewish Labor Committee is joining this movement. Now it's your turn. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the two best days to get a good deal. Now we can add a third day. Get the best deal of all this year through helping the next Jewish generation.

Years ago, many American Jews were active in the organized labor movement. Today this is no longer the case – many young Jews are not as knowledgeable and sympathetic to workers' issues. We at the JLC have initiated a program to help turn this around.

You're invited to join the Jewish Labor Committee this #GivingTuesday and help our campus organizing initiative on labor rights and economic inequality through "From History to Action." From History to Action is our educational program engaging Jewish college students in exploring the contribution of American Jews to the labor movement, and the roots of Jewish social justice, empowering them to get involved with local labor activism. From History to Action is not only fostering a deeper sense of the many links between Jewish identity and social justice in individuals, but also the larger community. From History to Action consists of a series of programs we run with the help of student fellows.

We are currently operating on the campuses of Tufts, Brandeis, and Harvard, and with your help we can expand From History to Action to campuses nationwide. Your donation of $18 ($36, $72, $90...) can help these students become great activists for economic justice. So join us and invest in the future of economic justice and tomorrow's Jewish labor activists.

To donate early, click the DONATE NOW button in the top left corner.

Paid Sick Leave: A National Priority

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Image from Franz Heinrich Corinth on his Sick Bed, by Lovis Corinth, 1888.

The rights of workers have long been a bedrock social justice concern and a priority of American Jews. With strong Jewish leadership, major achievements such as the minimum wage, the forty hour work week, the abolition of child labor, and family and medical leave have enhanced the quality of life for millions over successive generations.

Continue reading "Paid Sick Leave: A National Priority" »

Public Education: National Values and National Need

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Students at Oñate High School of the Las Cruces Public School district; photo source NASA.

"A strong, educated population is a vital national interest. An educated public can make wise decisions on issues of national concern, contribute their skills to the economy, and invent the goods and services of the future that can help strengthen our economy, including lessening income inequality."

Our most recent issue paper, Public Education: National Values and National Need, is online - for a printable copy, just click here.

Jewish Labor Committee Condemns Recent Massacres in Beirut and Paris

November 16, 2015 – New York, NY: Jewish Labor Committee President Stuart Appelbaum released the following statement moments ago:

The Jewish Labor Committee strongly condemns the recent massacres in Beirut and Paris carried out by ISIS. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and loved ones and to the people of Lebanon and France.

Clearly, these atrocities demand increased and stronger steps by a coalition of countries, with the United States continuing its leading role, to defeat this evil force. That has already begun, with the retaliatory air strikes that are being conducted.

This tragic situation, however, should not become an excuse for turning our backs on the refugees fleeing war and the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS in areas they conquer. We especially reject as abhorrent statements that refugees should be accepted on the basis of their religion, in particular, that only Christian refugees should be accepted. As an organization founded to oppose the rise of Nazism in the early 1930s, we find restrictions on who is aided – and who isn’t – based on religion repugnant. All countries accepting refugees, including the United States, just have to ensure that the screening process for allowing refugees to come into their country is rigorous enough to block any potential terrorists attempting to cynically take advantage of this act of humanity.

Jewish Labor Committee Dismayed
by PM Netanyahu’s Statement on the Holocaust

October 22, 2015 – New York, NY: Addressing the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement that is factually inaccurate and inflammatory precisely at a time when tensions are already extreme. Netanyahu claimed that "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews," but was persuaded to do so in a meeting he had with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in November 1941.
While it is true that the Grand Mufti was a notorious anti-Semite who helped instigate Arab violence against Jews and who collaborated with the Nazis, including recruiting Balkan Muslims to the SS and helping lead the1941 pro-Axis rebellion in Iraq, his meeting with Hitler took place after the mass murder of Jews had already begun and some one million had already died.
Today, when Palestinians are attacking Israelis on a daily basis, a statement blaming Palestinians for the Holocaust will only further inflame tensions. It is inaccurate and the opposite of what is needed, not only to quell the current violence, but also because it hinders negotiations for a two-state peace which is the long-term solution.

A Sabbath of Solidarity

October 16, 2015 – New York, NY: Rabbis and leaders of the four largest Jewish religious streams in the United States -- Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist -- have endorsed plans to declare this Sabbath, which begins tonight at sundown, a "Shabbat of Solidarity with Israel."

Rabbis and synagogue leaders have been asked to add special prayers in addition to the prayer for the State of Israel in their Sabbath services and to address, from the pulpit, the rising lethal violence in Jerusalem and in
neighboring communities.

People are also being asked to keep in touch with their friends and relatives in Israel.

Acts of violence against innocent civilians can never be condoned. Both Israelis and Palestinians suffer as a consequence. This is not the way.

NE JLC reaching out for MA's Fair Share Amendment

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Photo by Hannah Klein, an activist from JALSA (Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action), who was also volunteering with us.

October 7, 2015 – Somerville, MA: Volunteers worked with New England Jewish Labor Committee's Lily Sieradzki to collect signatures for the Fair Share Amendment in Davis Square. The Fair Share initiative, an ongoing project of RaiseUp Massachusetts, of which the NE JLC is a partner organization, is an amendment -- which needs 100,000 signatures to get onto the ballot by 2018 -- would raise state income taxes on people who make over $1 million a year. The revenue generated would be dedicated to public transit and public education. The NE JLC collected over 200 signatures on Wednesday and will be out collecting more in the next month!

RaiseUp Massachusetts, dedicated to building an economy that supports working families, is focusing on making all full-time jobs pay livable wages, as well as supporting policies that improve the balance between work life and family life. In June 2014, they and a range of colleague organizations, including the NE JLC, were successful in raising the state minimum wage: Massachusetts now has the highest state minimum wage in the USA. Their most recent campaigns include paid family and medical leave, the Fight for 15, and the Fair Share Initiative.

Jewish Labor Committee Joins in Welcome of Pope Francis to the United States

Finds Common Ground in Labor, Concern for the Poor and Interreligious Actions
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Photo Jeffrey Bruno/ALETEIA - (Creative Commons)

September 18, 2015 – New York, NY: Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement on the occasion of the impending visit of Pope Francis to the United States:

As an American organization that links the organized Jewish community and the organized labor movement, the Jewish Labor Committee joins in welcoming Pope Francis on his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis' visit is a special occasion for many of us to note his heartfelt and deeply-rooted respect for working men and women, for the poor and for the plight of immigrants.
We find common ground in Pope Francis’s statement of last October that “[t]here is no worse material poverty than one that does not allow for earning one’s bread and deprives one of the dignity of work,” and his many pronouncements on the dignity and safety of workers. The Pope’s appeal this March, that solidarity and justice prevail, noting that “when people do not earn their bread, they lose their dignity” resonated with us, bringing to mind the Talmudic passage from Pirke Avot, 3:16, on the importance and interrelatedness of both spiritual and physical sustenance: “Without bread [literally, ‘flour’], there is no Torah; without Torah, there is no bread.”
His respect for and advocacy of the rights of workers, including the right to form and join unions, and secure decent remuneration and secure retirements, deserve wide applause from the larger community, and emulation by community leaders, religious and secular.
We also find both common ground and deep respect for the Pope’s connections to and solidarity with the Jewish people, in Argentina, in Rome, and in more general terms, from the spirit in which he has approached interreligious encounters and dialogue. We welcome his condemnation of anti-Semitism, his solidarity with the victims of the attack on the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, his leadership in Holocaust commemoration and education within Argentina, and his articulation of “the right of the State of Israel to exist and flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders” in May of last year.
The Pope's concern for the poor, for the exploited, for those who cannot earn a decent wage to provide for their families, for immigrants, and, especially in this time, those desperate refugees trying to escape horrendous conditions in the Middle East and Africa are concerns that resonate with us deeply. We hope that his visit here will focus upon these pressing issues and thereby help lead to solutions.

Best wishes for the New Year

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

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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.

New England JLC Supports Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill Hotel Workers

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Photo via New England Jewish Labor Committee

September 9, 2015 – Boston, MA: Jewish Labor Committee members joined 400 Boston hotel workers at Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill Hotel earlier today as part of the workers' efforts to secure a safe and healthy workplace.

Workers at the hotel clean rooms for Massachusetts General Hospital patients at MGH's 8-bed sleep study in the hotel, which is right next to the hospital.

Hotel workers filed an OSHA complaint in May, stating that they cleaned blood, vomit, feces, and needles without sufficient training and protection, and the agency opened an inspection of the hotel that month. They submitted evidence to the agency supporting their allegations of hazardous working conditions related to the potentially infectious materials. Workers also allege lacking information about the waste they clean and dispose of from the MGH sleep study inside the hotel.

They went on strike June 25, 2015 and they testified at Boston City Council that they were afraid for their safety at work.

In July, the hotel hired a temporary agency to clean the MGH sleep study facility. The workers are still concerned that the temps are not given enough training and that "the hotel is going in the wrong direction."

"We are seriously concerned about health and safety conditions in our workplace. Although we clean up after medical patients, we have not always had gloves to protect ourselves or cleaning supplies adequate to do our jobs. Housemen have had to transport bloody linens through the hotel without leak-proof, biohazard bags. Housekeepers have had to dispose of potentially contaminated needles without training on procedures for doing so safely."

According to a Boston Globe article*, Brian Lang, President of Unite Here Local 26 said that Wyndham management has been resisting workers’ attempts to join a union, but the complaints filed by the housekeepers with OSHA are “independent of the issue of unionization.”

* "Wyndham housekeepers say waste from patients endangers them," Boston Globe, May 20, 2015,

Photo via Unite Here Local 26

Jewish Labor Committee Condemns Hate Speech against Members of Congress for Positions on Proposed Iran Nuclear Deal

September 1, 2015 - New York, NY: Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement earlier today:

The Jewish Labor Committee condemns the recent spate of hate speech directed against members of the United States Congress because of their position on the pending Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program.

While this is a complicated issue with valid points in support of or in opposition to the Iran deal, vitriolic attacks by persons or organizations against Senators or Representatives who take a position for or against the Iran deal is not only unwarranted but damaging to our democratic process. Those for the deal who attack someone such as Senator Chuck Schumer as a “war monger” and those against the deal who attack someone such as Representative Jerry Nadler as a “kapo” only add to the ultra-bitter atmosphere surrounding this issue, contribute nothing to the debate on this contentious plan, and contribute to the extreme partisanship that has deadlocked our government. Both Senator Schumer and Representative Nadler, and those like them, are strong supporters of Israel, and are progressive political leaders who work tirelessly to improve the lives of average citizens.

The Jewish Labor Committee condemns such hate speech.

Please sign this petition to U.S. Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour

You’re invited to sign this petition, online here [along with some background]!

To: The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate
From: [Your Name]

We call on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, linked to cost-of-living increases so that the lowest-paid among us are able to earn a living wage. And if Congress refuses, then we call on states and cities to raise their minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is simply not enough. We have much work to do to ensure a fair and just society – and raising the federal minimum wage to make it a living wage is part of it.

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Bill Epstein (at right), long-time Philadelphia JLC Board member, along with representatives of the `Fight for $15' campaign to raise the hourly minimum wage in Philadelphia to $15. See more here.

Continue reading "Please sign this petition to U.S. Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour" »

Why the Fight for 15? Why JLC? Why Me?

By Martin Abramowitz * - (originally published in Jewish Boston, posted Aug. 21, 2015)


September 7, Labor Day, is the launch of the New England Jewish Labor Committee (JLC)’s campaign to mobilize support within the Jewish community for the Fight for 15, as part of the RaiseUp Massachusetts coalition. As a member of the Boston Jewish community, and as an activist with JLC New England, I support this call for a living wage for the working people of our state and across the nation, and ask for the support of others in the Jewish community.

So what brings a 75-year-old middle-class retiree from a professional career in the Jewish community to the JLC as a volunteer activist and modest financial supporter?

In part, I'm acknowledging my 1940's roots in working-class Jewish Brooklyn, where I was the child of a labor “intermarriage": Rose sewed labels on men's ties, which made her a member of the "Amalgamated" Clothing Workers Union of America, while Isidore cut patterns for women's dresses, as a charter member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. That Isidore, at age 18, had been on site at—and lived to testify about—the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, further underscored my feeling of responsibility for the well-being of working people. I've always felt that I owe my very existence to the fact that my father survived this terrible industrial tragedy only by random luck. Working on the Fight for 15 campaign is therefore a way of honoring my parents’ memory.

Continue reading "Why the Fight for 15? Why JLC? Why Me? »

* Martin Abramowitz is the former VP for Planning with the CJP, Greater Boston’s Jewish Federation. Currently, he serves as a volunteer consultant to JLC New England Board and as the CEO of Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc.

This piece is the first in a JLC New England blog series From Passion to Action.

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 7, 2015 - New York, NY: We mark the upcoming 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" »

The Israeli Labor Movement: Focus on the Histadrut

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30th Anniversary poster of the Histadrut (Israel's General Federation of Labor): "Worker! Immigrant! Your Place is in the Histadrut!" (1950)

"With anti-Semitism rising in Europe, marginalizing and endangering the continent’s Jewish population, Zionism took shape in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its goal was to rebuild the ancient Jewish homeland (then a territory within the Ottoman Turkish Empire known as Palestine) largely as a place of refuge and revitalization for Jews. Beginning with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the start of British rule over Palestine as a League of Nations `Mandate' after World War I, the British allowed the Zionist movement to facilitate Jewish immigration and create embryonic national institutions. One of these key institutions was the Histadrut, Israel’s democratic, independent labor federation. To date, it remains a rare exception throughout the Middle East."

Continue reading "The Israeli Labor Movement: Focus on the Histadrut" »

JLC Extends Condolences to Families of Victims of Shooting at AME Church;
Calls for Removing all Public Manifestations of the Confederate Flag

June 26, 2015 - The following statement was issued today by the Jewish Labor Committee:

American Jews, as a minority group, know what it means to suffer oppression. Whenever another minority is threatened or oppressed, we feel the need to speak out and to offer support, solidarity and solace. Indeed, in the United States, prejudice against Jews and blacks has often gone hand-in-hand. The latest example is Dylann Roof, the confessed perpetrator of the heinous murders last week of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, an historic black church in Charleston , South Carolina ; Roof’s “manifesto” demonstrated pathological hatred of Blacks, and also of Jews.

We are not at all surprised that at this sad time, the organized American Jewish community is standing united in its support of the African-American community. All denominations within the American Jewish community will participate in a "Shabbat of Solidarity" this weekend, when rabbis and Jewish community members around the country will reach out to AME churches with messages of support and speak out in their synagogues against racism, bigotry and extremism.

The Jewish Labor Committee extends its condolences to the victims' families, their congregation and their community, and rededicates itself to the fight against racism, prejudice, and discrimination of all varieties. And we call for all state governments and businesses to take a meaningful symbolic step in that direction by removing all public manifestations of the Confederate flag, a symbol that is as much an anathema to the African-American community as the swastika is to the Jewish community.

Income Inequality and Labor Unions: A Program for Progress

Growing income inequality has become an issue of national concern. The reports are striking: the share of total annual income going to the top 1% of Americans has more than doubled since 1976. In past recessions, incomes drop, but quickly bounce back during recovery. There is no doubt that the economy has been improving; however, wages are not and therefore the inequality gap has not been shrinking. The so-called economic “recovery” of 2009-2011 saw the top 7% of households increase their net wealth by 28%, while the bottom 93% saw a decrease in their net wealth by an average of 4.4%. According to a Pew Research Center study, the wealth gap separating the top 7% from everyone else increased from 18 to 1 to 24 to 1 between 2009 and 2011. The most affluent 7% of households owned 63% of the country’s household wealth in 2009. The wealthiest 10% of Americans haven’t taken home such a large percentage of all income since 1917, the heyday of the robber barons in the late Gilded Age. A scandalous one in five American children lives in poverty. [MORE]

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Our most recent Why Unions Matter issue paper is online - for a printable copy, just click here.

Please help the people of Nepal!

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Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the people of Nepal.

On Saturday, April 25, a devastating earthquake struck the impoverished country, killing and injuring thousands. Another one hit two weeks later, on May 12th, increasing the toll in lives lost and injures in Nepal and neighboring countries.

The people of Nepal need our help. Up to 1 million have lost their homes. Hospitals are running short of medical supplies. There is a grave danger of waterborne diseases spreading.

A number of Jewish organizations have established online donation portals where you can make your donation to help the people of Nepal in their time of need.

Jewish Federations of North America

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

American Jewish World Service

Please give generously today.

JLC Reaffirms Commitment to Two-State Solution to Israel-Palestine Conflict

May 8, 2015 - The following statement was issued today by Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee:

We note with concern the new Israeli coalition government formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While we salute Israel's vigorous democracy, the closeness of the March 17 election results tells us how divided the country's electorate is on a variety of issues. It took a last-minute deal with an extreme-right political party, Jewish Home, for Prime Minister Netanyahu to create the new government with the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc of parties. We hope that the Jewish Home party's agenda, opposing a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, will not be the last word for Israel on this vital question.

Precisely at this time, the Jewish Labor Committee reaffirms our longstanding support for a negotiated two-state solution between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We see the peaceful establishment of a viable, demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel as the only practical course of action to insure Israel's long-term continuity as a sovereign, democratic Jewish state and to ensure a viable economic, political and social future for the Palestinians living on the West Bank and in Gaza. We call on all within Israel and the region, and their supporters around the world, to join us in supporting such a resolution to this unresolved conflict.

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 inequality, to end discrimination and to promote dignity, security and representation on the job and in the larger community.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Addresses 2015 JLC Human Rights Awards Dinner

March 19, 2015, New York, NY: The Jewish Labor Committee presented this year's Human Rights Awards to Marc Perrone, newly elected international president of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Julie Kushner, Director of United Auto Workers District 9A. Congressman Jerrold Nadler addressed the JLC's Human Rights Awards Dinner, as did Senator Elizabeth Warren - via video message to the gathering (see it by clicking on image, below.) Stuart Appelbaum, President of the JLC and of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW, MC'd the evening. Other speakers included Michael Goodwin, President of OPEIU, Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, and two brave carwasheros, on strike for the past four months in their effort to gain dignity on the job through a union.

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The Only Hope for Peace is a Negotiated Two-State Solution

March 18, 2015, New York, NY – Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement the morning after Israel’s national elections:

"While it is too soon to know which party will be able to form a governing coalition, it appears that Likud is in better position to do so after Tuesday's Israeli elections. We couldn't disagree more strongly with Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that there will never be a Palestinian state under his watch and we believe that regardless of last-minute campaign rhetoric, the only hope for peace is a negotiated two-state solution."

Human Rights Awards Dinner March 19th 2015 in NYC

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We are delighted to announce the 2015 JLC Human Rights Dinner honoring Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, and Julie Kushner, Director of United Automobile Workers, Region 9A.

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 — as an email attachment to, or by mail to
Jewish Labor Committee – 140 West 31st Street, 3rd Floor – New York NY 10001

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.

A Grand Alliance to Save the U.S. Public Postal Service. Please sign the pledge now!

February 16, 2015 - The Jewish Labor Committee is joining with more than 60 other national organizations to form A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. Please sign this pledge to protect the public Postal Service.

The United States Postal Service is a wonderful national treasure, enshrined in the Constitution and supported by the American people. Without any taxpayer funding, the USPS serves more than 150 million households and businesses each day, providing affordable, universal mail service to all­ – including rich and poor, rural and urban, without regard to age, nationality, race or gender.

The Postal Service and postal jobs are threatened by those who would undermine the postal services and dismantle this great public institution. Even some postal executives have been complicit in the drive toward the destruction of the Postal Service and ultimate privatization.

Continue reading "A Grand Alliance to Save the U.S. Public Postal Service. Please sign the pledge now!" »

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