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!" »

JLC Urges Prime Minister Netanyahu to Reconsider Invitation to Address U.S. Congress

February 11, 2015 -- Jewish Labor Committee President Stuart Appelbaum issued the following statement regarding the upcoming speech by Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, DC:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress has created an unnecessary strain in U.S.-Israeli relations. The Jewish Labor Committee urges the Prime Minister to reconsider his acceptance of this invitation, and to seek another venue to express his concerns to the U.S. Congress about the negotiations taking place with Iran over its nuclear program.

As a democracy and an ally of the United States, Israel has enjoyed bipartisan support in America. This longstanding support has not been a Republican or a Democratic issue, but rather one based on shared values between our two countries. The invitation by a Republican leader to a foreign leader that bypassed the usual protocol by not informing the President of the United States , and the Prime Minister’s plan to address Congress in the near future, has put an unnecessary strain on this relationship, injecting the U.S. government into the upcoming Israeli elections.

Continue reading "JLC Urges Prime Minister Netanyahu to Reconsider Invitation to Address U.S. Congress" »

Solidarity with workers at Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and Maldives!

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The IUF, an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in agriculture and plantations; the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages; hotels, restaurants and catering services; and all stages of tobacco processing has reached out internationally on an issue that should br of concern to us all. Sheraton hotels and resorts are part of the Starwood Group, whose other brands include Westin, St. Regis, Méridien, W Hotels and the Luxury Collection. While Starwood calls them "distinct lifestyle brands" - upscale accommodations for affluent travelers and vacationers, the IUF reports that brutal violations of the human rights of the company's employees can be part of that distinct lifestyle.
Recently, workers at Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and Maldives sought to exercise a basic human right: negotiate through their unions their employment terms and conditions. They got Sheraton management's full service abuse treatment - brutal mass dismissals and intimidation.

Carrying Forward the Dream

by Rita Freedman

January 18th, 2015 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “dream” has become a credo for those seeking a just world.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight....With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

Dr. King never pretended that this summit would be reached easily. He left these words as a touchstone for future generations.

Continue reading "Carrying Forward the Dream " »

On the vote of University of California Graduate Students on BDS

December 19th, 2014 - After reviewing the recent vote by members of UAW Local 2865 on the issue of whether or not to support the local’s Joint Council’s proposal to support a policy of BDS – i.e., boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel, the Jewish Labor Committee has some serious concerns. The statewide union represents between 12,000 and 13,000 graduate student workers - readers, tutors, teaching assistants (TAs), and others - at the nine teaching campuses of the University of California.

A number of election irregularities have been alleged. Prior to the election, members of the local opposed to the passage of the referendum raised questions about the way the election has been conducted. They felt outnumbered and intimidated at meetings of Local 2865’s Executive, and felt that they were unable to get fair access to the local’s membership to explain their opposition to the proposed resolution. They felt that there were an inadequate number of polling places, and that the distribution of the polling places was done intentionally to favor members who might be positively disposed to the resolution.

Moreover, a very small percentage of the membership actually voted. Local 2865 reported that a mere 2,168 members voted, out of 13,000 members total. This represents approximately 17 % of the membership. In addition, apparently graduate students at any UC campus were able to join the local at the polling places immediately before voting, so the potential electorate approached 52,000 individuals.

Out of 13,000 members, 1,411 voted in support of the resolution – 65 % of the total votes, but only 11 % of 13,000 members, and 2.7 % of 52,000 potential voters. This is hardly a “testament to union democracy,” as Local 2865 has claimed.

The referendum also had a second item, to which voters could only check off in the affirmative, with no way to vote "no." On this item, 1,136 voters – 52 % of the total voters, but only 8.7 % of the local’s membership, and 2 % of the potential electorate -- also pledged “not to `take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel until such time as these universities take steps to end complicity with dispossession, occupation, and apartheid.” As with the first item voted on, there is no indication that those who checked off this “pledge” are representative of the membership of Local 2865.

As to the issue itself, in 2007, the highest leadership of the UAW – it’s International President – signed onto a Statement of Opposition to Divestment From or Boycotts of Israel along with the presidents of every other major U.S. labor union. On November 17 of this year, Gary Jones, the Director of UAW Region 5, which includes California , wrote to the leadership of Local 2865 that the UAW’s position had not changed.

The Local 2865 measure contradicts the position of the UAW, as it
   1) calls on the University of California to divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation and apartheid;
   2) calls on the UAW International to divest from these same entities;
   3) calls on the US government to end military aid to Israel .

The Jewish Labor Committee agrees with the vast majority of the labor movement in the United States that - like most other sectors of society in the U.S. - does not support BDS, but rather favors a two-state solution brought about by an honest peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and believes that singling out Israel and Israeli academic institutions in this way in fact undermines these peace efforts.

JLC Supports President Obama’s Efforts to Reform “Severely Flawed” U.S. Immigration System

President Stuart Appelbaum Calls on Congress to Enact Comprehensive Reform

November 21, 2014 - New York, NY: Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, just issued the following statement:

As an organization founded by working-class Jewish immigrants and their children, with roots in the labor movement, we know that immigrants enrich our country, culturally, economically, and socially. The Jewish Labor Committee has for many years supported meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform. While the United States Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the House of Representatives has unfortunately refused to act.

Aware that this is a pressing need directly affecting millions of people who work in the United States, their families and their communities, we therefore applaud President Obama's efforts to take steps to ensure that families are not torn apart, that undocumented immigrants can emerge from the shadows, that those who have committed crimes are held to account for those crimes, and that the borders of the United States are made more secure.

We call on all members of Congress to act NOW to make the changes announced by President Obama in the severely flawed immigration system of the United States permanent, and work in a bipartisan fashion to enact comprehensive reform as envisioned by the legislation that is still stalled in Congress. It is the right thing to do, and the time is now.

Philly Rallies for Public School Teachers and Schools

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Protestors shut down Broad Street, Philadelphia's main thoroughfare.
Photograph by Jessica Kourkounis for Education Week (additional photos below)

October 16, 2014 – Philadelphia: Community members from various sectors demonstrated a week after the city's School Reform Commission (SRC) announced, without notice or discussion, that it was not going to honor Philadelphia's public school teachers' contracts {collectively bargained between the city and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT)} after the end of this school year. "That's 16,000 teachers who will be forced to accept terms that are dictated to them by the SRC," Philadelphia JLC Director Michael Hersch told us.

Continue reading "Philly Rallies for Public School Teachers and Schools" »

Victory for the "Hyatt 100" - $1 million to the fired housekeepers and ...!

October 8, 2014 - Five years ago, three Hyatt Hotels in the Boston area abruptly fired 98 housekeepers. The hotels brought in replacement workers, paying them roughly half the hourly wage. The fired housekeepers had been told to train these new housekeepers who turned out to be their replacements.
The fired workers didn't belong to a union, but they quickly approached a local of UNITE-HERE. A nationwide boycott of Hyatt hotels and then a global boycott were among the results. The Jewish Labor Committee, its regional offices and members jumped in to support the workers. An historic settlement was reached with most Hyatt hotels, but not the ones in the Boston area. So the New England JLC kept up its activism.
Right from the beginning, the NE JLC was in the fight with both feet. Rabbi Barbara Penzner of Temple Hillel B'nai Torah and a co-chair of NE JLC along with our regional director Marya Axner, mobilized congregants, rabbis and JLC members. to support the boycott of the Hyatt Regency Boston, Hyatt Boston Harbor and Hyatt Regency Cambridge.
Rabbi Penzner drafted a petition signed by Jewish clergy around the country and worked to keep religious groups from holding events at Hyatt hotels. She traveled to Chicago to confront Hyatt executives and rallied clergy to disrupt shareholder meetings. The NE JLC participated in rallies (as did JLC in other parts of the country), arranged for letters to be written and helped keep the issue in front of the public.
Finally, a few weeks ago, the Boston-area Hyatts gave in, agreeing to pay $1 million to the fired housekeepers and offering them hiring preference at future Hyatt-operated hotels.
All of us at the JLC are proud of the work that the NE JLC did on behalf of the housekeepers and of the fact that the Boston Globe story and editorial in particular highlighted Rabbi Penzner's activity, which were so important to this victory.

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(l-r: Sandra Korn, Dave Borrus. Martha Plotkin, Amy Mazur, Roberta Bauer, Marya Axner, Jim Marshall, Dick Bauer, Stephanie Ainbinder, and Glen Dansker at a demonstration in Boston, July 26th, 2012.)

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