Between the AFL-CIO split and the Gaza disengagement, it’s a bit wrenching to be a Jewish labor type. With at least one prominent Jew (SEIU President Andy Stern) involved in the AFL-CIO split-up, it’s not surprising to learn about an ugly undercurrent of anti-semitism. Thankfully, though not surprisingly, his labor union opponents -- like Rick Sloan (IAM) -- strongly condemn anti-semitism and other hate speech. Rick wrote:
There are lots of valid reasons to oppose what Andy Stern and his allies want to do within the AFL-CIO. But the most grotesque reason cited on this blog is the fact that Andy Stern is Jewish. Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in the American Labor Movement. None. Ours is a movement built over more than a century, a movement built by the brains and brawn and deeply held beliefs of millions of Jewish workers. Hopefully, their contributions to what we have today will be respected and valued.
And while we are at it, we should respect and value the pantheon of exceptional Jewish labor leaders -- Sidney Hillman, Al Shanker, Andrew Stern and so many others - who fought (and still fight) for a better life for their members. Hopefully, in this new century, new names will be added to that pantheon.
As the IAM's Communications Director, I will use every tool in our toolbox to oppose what Andy Stern, Jim Hoffa, Bruce Raynor and John Wilhelm are trying to do at the AFL-CIO. To me and to thousands of Machinists Union members, the stakes for the American Labor Movement are high and growing higher. But nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies such a vile attack and it must be condemned it in the strongest possible terms. As trade unionists, let us put aside our differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with Andy Stern on this. After all, an injury to one is an injury to all. (5/12/05)
This is exactly what must be spoken: solidarity even in disengagement. Yasher koach!
Since I'm reading about work in tractate Shabbat, I want to blog about Jews and the labor movement. Plus, thanks to my friend Jordan Barab at Confined Space for the strong plug.
Re: shabbat, Orthodox and Reform Rabbis used the Sabbath in the labor struggle w/ILGWU et alia for a 40 hr/5 day work week. Reform Judaism is still very active on labor issues. (The Orthodox much less so, letza’areynu.)
Still, I suspect "secular" ("cultural"?) Jews are those most involved in groups like The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (Boston), Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston , Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (Chicago), Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (NYC), Jews United for Justice (DC area), Progressive Jewish Alliance (L.A.), the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring (founded in 1900), and the Jewish Labor Committee (see photo, also bibliographies of the Jewish labor movement and labor and rabbinic texts).
PS See one of my favorite labor leaders in the Jewish Hall of Fame (!)