The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: From 1911 to 2024

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[History of the Needlecraft Industry, 1938, by Ernest Fiene (Detail)]

March 25, 2024 - The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, that terrible man-made tragedy that took place in New York City a bit over a century ago, is being memorialized in programs across the country. And that is why we commemorate it on March 25th this year, at the site of the fire, on the corner of Washington and Greene Streets, just east of Manhattan's Washington Square Park. On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, mostly young, mostly women, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants and children of immigrants, died as a result of this calamity, either by being burned or as a result of jumping to their deaths. Most of the workers could not escape because managers locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to keep them from leaving early. The fire trucks' ladders of that day could only reach the sixth floor - those who perished were on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors.

Occurring in the midst of five years of labor organizing in the clothing industry in a number of cities across the United States, the fire shocked the city, the country and the world. Legislation requiring improved factory safety standards was passed in the immediate aftermath of the fire. The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and other unions had been fighting for better and safer working conditions for working men and women in all workplaces. And today’s unions are still fighting.

Many of our grandparents and great-grandparents played a critical role in building a strong and vibrant labor movement, with the hope that it would endure and remain a permanent feature of American life. Through their actions and their struggle, our lives and the lives of many Americans were made better. Today, alas, those hard-fought gains are still under threat in communities across the United States.

Continue reading "The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: From 1911 to 2024" »

JLC and other Conference of Presidents Members Rebut COP Statement on Majority Leader Schumer Meeting

On March 14th, 2024, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, delivered a strongly-worded speech on the Senate floor, focusing to a great degree on on the violence of the October 7th terrorist attack against Israel, the Israeli response in Gaza, and his thoughts on "the path forward to secure mutual peace and lasting prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians." {See "Schumer Urges New Leadership in Israel, Calling Netanyahu an Obstacle to Peace," NYT, March 14, 2024.}

On March 19th, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (COP) held a special, off-he-record briefing with Senator Schumer and COP member organization presidents and CEOs; JLC President Stuart Appelbaum and Executive Director Arieh Lebowitz participated in that briefing. Later that day, the chair and CEO of the COP issued a terse statement, saying it remains ‘distressed’ with Schumer's call for elections in Israel, as one headline put it.

On March 20th, the Jewish Labor Committee joined with the lay and professional leaders of Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Union for Reform Judaism, and Women of Reform Judaism, as well as, signing on as individuals, the chair, and president and CEO, of HIAS in a statement of our own:

"We are deeply disturbed by the condemnatory statement issued yesterday by the Conference of Presidents (COP) following a meeting with Majority Leader Schumer. Though the critical COP statement was made in the name of the CEO and President, it claims to speak for COP `membership' when in fact it clearly fails to reflect the diversity of views within the COP.

"Each of us has slightly different takes on Senator Schumer’s speech: many of us welcomed his forceful condemnation of Hamas, his passionate call for the hostages’ release, his expression of pain for the humanitarian crisis gripping innocent Gazans, and his vivid critique of PM Netanyahu’s rejection of eventual demilitarized Palestinian statehood and sovereignty. Others have taken a different view.

Continue reading "JLC and other Conference of Presidents Members Rebut COP Statement on Majority Leader Schumer Meeting" »

A Special Bond: Martin Luther King, Jr., Israel and American Jewry
Image from The Unfinished Business of the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement Lesson Plan

by Stuart Appelbaum
{Note: this article was originally published 11 years ago.}

This year, U.S. Jews, like other Americans, will mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by remembering him as a powerful voice against racism and for civil rights. But, for Jews, Dr. King was also something else: a uniquely important ally in the fight against anti-Semitism and for a secure Israel.

Today, Dr. King’s close bond with the Jewish community is treated only as a small footnote of his life and work. But, toward the end of his life, Dr. King devoted significant time and energy to strengthening what were becoming increasingly strained ties between black Americans and U.S. Jews. One issue Dr. King was particularly concerned with was the growing mischaracterization of Zionism as racism.

Dr. King spoke and wrote often about Israel. However, the true depth of Dr. King’s commitment to Israel was readily apparent in a September, 1967 letter he sent to Adolph Held, then president of the organization I now lead, the Jewish Labor Committee. Dr. King wrote Held after the Jewish leader contacted him regarding press accounts of a conference that Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference participated in. At the meeting, strongly worded resolutions blasting Zionism and embracing the position of the Arab powers had been considered.

Understanding Held’s worries, Dr. King explained that, beyond offering opening remarks, he had no part in the conference. But, Dr. King said, had he been present during the discussion of the resolutions “I would have made it crystal clear that I could not have supported any resolution calling for black separatism or calling for a condemnation of Israel and an unqualified endorsement of the policy of the Arab powers.”

Continue reading "A Special Bond: Martin Luther King, Jr., Israel and American Jewry" »

Confronting Hate

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December 18, 2023 - The ]ewish Labor Committee presented an hour-long webinar about acts of hate and their impact within educational settings.
You can watch our webinar here.
Moderated by Greg Perles, a history teacher at North Shore High School on Long Island (Greg is President of the North Shore Schools Federated Employees), the webinar was led by Scott Richman, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for New York and New Iersey.
With introductory remarks by JLC President Stuart Appelbaum and ADL NY-NJ Board Chair Alan Klinger, our discussion explored
• understanding acts of hate: learning what acts of hate are and how to recognize them;
• current landscape: exploring the scope of acts of hate, and comparing the trends pre- and post-October 7th; and
• effective responses: discussing how individuals and institutions can and should respond to acts of hate.

Join us at our Annual Human Rights Awards Gala!

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Click on the invitation above to RSVP!


JLC Statement on Horrific Hamas Attack from Gaza against Israel

October 7, 2023 - The President of the Jewish Labor Committee, Stuart Appelbaum, made the following statement about the horrific attack against Israel earlier today:

The Jewish Labor Committee unequivocally condemns Hamas’s terrorist attack from Gaza against the State of Israel. We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel in these dark hours, and grieve over the loss of life, and the many injuries, and send our sympathies to the many families who are now suffering as a result of this heinous action.

We recognize the State of Israel's unequivocal right to defend itself and those who live within its borders, and extend our support for that country’s defense forces.

We call for the immediate safe return of the hostages held by Hamas.

Hamas's violent hatred of Israel and refusal to live in peace will only lead to more tragedy for both those living in Israel and Gaza.

We reach out to the international community, including our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, and call on them to join us in condemning this act of terrorism and in support of Israel.

August 1963 – August 2023: March On Washington

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l-r: Prof. Emeritus Jerome Dancis, University of Maryland (AFT); Gail Malmgreen (New York Labor History Association); Barry Dancis; Frank Silberstein (AFGE); Benjamin Ross; Arieh Lebowitz and Martin Schwartz (Jewish Labor Committee).

August 26th, 2023 - Washington, DC: As many as 50,000 people again gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, at the 60th Anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington. And, again, we were there.

Despite significant progress in the last 60 years, there is a growing wave of intimidation, hate crimes and hate speech. Attacks on Jews, African Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Muslims in the U.S., and on people of diverse identities based on race, religion, gender, sexual identity and cultural heritage and affiliation are on the rise. That is why we came to Washington.

Six decades ago, on August 28, 1963, at the first “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph and with the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin as its principal organizer, we gathered at an historic event, organized by a broad coalition of civil rights, labor, and religious groups. One of the largest political demonstrations for human rights in the history of United States, it was designed to put the political, economic, and social discrimination suffered by African Americans squarely on the national agenda.

Today, in 2023, there is still much work to do. Racism, bigotry and discrimination persist. Our society is fractured, and the result, too often is violence. We see it in the headlines, on the streets, and outside and inside our houses of worship. And that is why we and so many others assembled on a hot Saturday in our nation's capital, coming from the civil and human rights movement, the labor movement, and a range of Jewish and other ethnic and faith-based organizations. We were there to join with others, to reaffirm our shared commitment to freedom, equality, economic and social equity and respect for our common humanity.

1936: Anti-Nazi World Labor Athletic Carnival Held in New York City

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(Jewish Labor Committee collection, Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives / Tamiment Library, New York University)

August 16, 2023 - New York, NY: We mark the 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 United States 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 New York City" »

US Union Leaders: We Continue to Support the Fight for Democracy in Israel

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July 24, 2023: Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and president of the Jewish Labor Committee, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), made the following statement today:

"Today was a dark day for Israeli democracy. The push to topple democratic consensus in Israel by a right-wing, extreme government, must be challenged. We are heartened that the Israeli public is challenging them at home, and we pledge to do everything in our power to stand with the pro-democracy protesters and to protect democracy in Israel.

"As American trade union leaders and as Jewish activists who care deeply about Israel, we are saddened and sickened by the Netanyahu governmen's frontal attack on democracy. Workers' rights will never be guaranteed without true democracy and untethered courts.

"We believe that Israel's future is dependent on equality of opportunity and democracy for all of its citizens - Jewish and Arab, religious and secular. We are gravely concerned about the damage to be done to civil and human rights in Israel by this decision - and the implications for further entrenching the occupation of the Palestinian people.

"We know that there is another vision for Israel, and we pledge to stand with all those who promote it. We urge all those who care about Israeli democracy - inside and outside of Israel - to join us in embracing and encouraging the movement for democracy in Israel."

Continue reading "US Union Leaders: We Continue to Support the Fight for Democracy in Israel" »

The Jewish Community and Labor: Passover 2023


April 4, 2023 - The story of Passover transcends the Jewish community. It is the story of overcoming injustice and achieving freedom. This story has resonated with and inspired all sorts of communities and causes through the centuries.
Especially when we come together from different backgrounds and situations to celebrate and find our own meaning in the Passover Seder, this story reminds us of something else: that justice is indivisible. You can't be for justice for some and not be for justice for all.
That's why it is so important for the Jewish community and the labor community to come together, and share each other's concerns and priorities, in the context of common values. The JLC has been hosting labor seders in many cities, across the United States, for over two decades.
As we tell the story of the exodus, we also see how it relates to the struggles of working people to find meaning and dignity in their own lives.
At the same time, it provides an opportunity to address the challenges the Jewish community continues to face, with alarming increases in acts of antisemitism all across the country.
This is a special moment for working people in the United States. More than two thirds of Americans now support unions - the highest number in decades. And workers are standing up in numbers we haven't seen in a long time. Workers are tired of being treated like a disposable commodity, with their health and safety disregarded - as too many people witnessed during the Pandemic.
Our two communities - the Jewish community and labor - both believe that all people must be treated with dignity and respect. And that means there is a lot to talk about to see how we can support each other.
With best wishes for a Happy Passover, a Hag Sameakh, a Ziessen Pesakh!

Stuart Appelbaum
Jewish Labor Committee

US Union Leaders: We Support the Fight for Democracy in Israel

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Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and President of the Jewish Labor Committee, and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Secretary of the Jewish Labor Committee, made the following statement today:

"We strongly back the General Strike called by the Israeli trade union movement Histadrut and by the Israeli universities in defense of democracy in Israel. We stand ready to support our trade union allies in Israel in any way we can -- and all those who are fighting for democracy there -- to ensure an independent judiciary and human and civil rights for all.

"It's heartening that the Histadrut, an institution that has sustained the Israeli people and the Israeli economy since the country's founding, made the decision it did. We commend Histadrut President Arnon Bar-David for his statements and his action. All trade unionists know that it is nothing but an illusion that unions can cooperate with an autocratic government while retaining their independent power. This hasn't happened anywhere in the world.

"Similarly, education and learning can only thrive in a free environment. Israel boasts some of the leading institutions of higher education in the world, but without democracy, these universities will wither. We applaud the leadership shown by the university presidents whose aim is to ensure that the pursuit of knowledge will be shielded by the pursuit of democracy.

"The leaders of the protests against the judicial coup have kept the promise of democracy alive for 12 plus weeks. Hailing from civil society along with individuals who have broken their normal routines to put all their energy into this struggle, their stamina and determination have been something to behold. Their commitment and their leadership are inspirations not only for the Israeli people, but for everyone around the world who cares about -- and cherishes -- democracy.

"For both of us, this struggle in Israel is also very personal. We have stood by and in Israel during times of war, and with hopes for peace. Now, with Israel in a war for democracy, we are locking arms with the people of Israel once again."

President Stuart Appelbaum at NYC's Rally for Democracy in Israel

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JLC President Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union,
addressed those at the rally. Photo by Jacob Kornbluh/Forward.

February 21, 2023: New York, NY - Jewish Labor Committee people were among the 200 in New York, many associated with groups connected to the Progressive Israel Network, at a rally in Midtown Manhattan during afternoon rush hour across the street from the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. We were there to show support for democracy in the State of Israel, to protest the Netanyahu Government's proposed court reforms, and express solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in that country. Below are President Appelbaum's remarks:

I am standing here today as a proud Jew, as a proud New Yorker, as a progressive, and as head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and President of the Jewish Labor Committee.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a proud, and at times critical, supporter of the State and people of Israel. And the values that have guided my choices over the years are the same values that are bringing all of us together now.

We are not alone - and we are joining hundreds of thousands of people who have rallied in over 60 locations across the State of Israel, speaking up against the threat to Israeli democratic traditions, not from an external threat, but from an internal one.

Demonstrators have been turning out for weeks, carrying the flag of the State of Israel, in support of its democratic ideals, and in support of a bedrock feature of that society - its independent judiciary. And we too - here in New York - are demonstrating, against those in the highest positions of the current Israeli Government, who have pushed Israeli policies far to the extreme right, seeking to muzzle the very institution that protects the civil rights for those whose beliefs and actions do not accord with the ideology of the Netanyahu Government.

We must stand with those who are working to protect and strengthen the rights of the non-Orthodox in Israel, of Israeli and Palestinian workers, of women in Israel, of the Israeli LGBTQ community, and indeed of all in that country.

We must stand with those who speak out against violence and provocation, on both sides, and with those who seek to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with fairness, justice, dignity and security.

And - even here in America, we must stand with those who are seeking to protect Israel's democratic nature and its independent judiciary.

Just like those who have taken to the streets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and throughout the State of Israel, we must not allow extremists, and their political enablers, to transform Israel into a country that betrays what should be its central values of democracy and freedom.

Now is not the time to mute our criticism. Now is precisely the time to make our critical voices heard. We can and must speak out, loudly - lending our support to all those progressive forces in Israel who are determined to fulfill its promise and secure its democratic future.

You're Invited:
Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Gala - December 19th, 2022

There's still time to RSVP and join us virtually this Monday, December 19th for the Jewish Labor Committee's 2022 Annual Human Rights Awards. We'll be honoringSpeaker Nancy Pelosi with our Lifetime of Valoraward.

In addition to SpeakerPelosi, awards will be presented toPresident Lynne Fox,Workers United, SEIU,President Chris Shelton, CWA andAl Vincent, Jr.,Executive Director,Actors Equity.We will hear remarks from RWDSU/UFCW and JLC President Stuart Appelbaum, AFT President and JLC Secretary Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and very special guestsPennsylvania Governor-Elect Josh ShapiroandCongresswoman Sara Jacobs(D-CA).
You can securely register here:

As we celebrate the second night of Hanukkah and all the accomplishments of our friends and leaders in Labor and the Jewish Community we hope you will join us Monday, December 19th virtually.

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More details:

Continue reading "You're Invited:
Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Gala - December 19th, 2022" »

Recording of
"Common Ground: Jews, Labor, Democracy, and Voting"

October 20, 2022 - You're invited to watch and listen to this very engaging discussion between Stuart Appelbaum (President, JLC), Aaron Dorfman (Founder and Executive Director, Jewish Partnership for Democracy), Eric Richard (Legislative Director, New Jersey State AFL-CIO), John Shea III (Director, Committee on Political Education, NJ AFL-CIO), and Rabbi David Vaisberg (Senior Rabbi, Temple B'nai Abraham, Livingston NJ) - just click here.
During this conversation, our panelists made some important points - and we will continue the conversation, as we grapple with these issues -- to the all-important midterm elections and the weeks and months beyond.

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On Rosh Hashana: A New Year's Message from the JLC

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

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, a time for self-examination and renewal, is upon us. For people around the world, this has been another challenging year. As the season changes, and as we enter a New Year, we are still confronting threats to democracy, including assaults on voting rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic, still a serious health threat, has raised the curtain on inequalities and injustices that have always existed but have now been exacerbated: the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minority communities and vulnerable populations is starkly visible.

Our work continues, whether it's working with and for people who are bakers, teachers, hospitality workers, domestic workers, museum workers "¦

This summer, we reached out to rabbis across the U.S., encouraging them to devote part of a D'var Torah - a sermon - before Labor Day, to the challenges facing working people today, and what Jewish tradition, history and faith have to say. And rabbis have done just that, from California to Massachusetts. We've spoken to congregations not only on the historic Jewish labor movement, but on what we are doing today to help working men and women, locally and across the country.

The US Department of Justice is investigating more than 1,000 hostile threats or instances of harassment against election workers and officials. And so, working with the Jewish Partnership for Democracy, we've reached out to hundreds of lawyers to provide a few hours of pro bono legal support for election officials and volunteers who continue their vital work despite the strain of such threats.

Continue reading "On Rosh Hashana: A New Year's Message from the JLC" »

What does labor want? Thoughts for Labor Day 2022

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by Arieh Lebowitz, Executive Director, JLC

In a recent article, " "˜Quiet quitting,' the sudden trend in work, sounds sort of "¦ Jewish?," Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the New York Jewish Week, mentioned "cooling your hottest ambitions in favor of a saner work-life balance." As someone who's been working from home since March 2020, my "hottest ambition" is precisely a saner work-life balance.

Speaking of a related balance, or rather, imbalance, he added that "the demise of unions has shifted the workplace power balance to employers." To paraphrase Mark Twain's' oft-misquoted expression, that demise has been exaggerated. A decline, yes, but unions in the U.S. are still alive, active, significant, and increasingly finding favor in opinion polls, and with working people who are reaching for that saner work-life balance, plus decent wages and working conditions, greater work-schedule stability, and a measure of respect on the job.

In a nutshell, the not-so-sudden trend is not simply "quiet quitting," but working people looking to get a better balance in their work-life -- often through joining unions and in collective action.

Continue reading "What does labor want? Thoughts for Labor Day 2022" »

Special talk on Starbucks unionizing across the map!

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Starbucks workers in Nanuet, NY, right after they won their union elections.
(Right to left; Adriana Valdez Escarcega, Sophia Farias, Furquan Khan, Cristian Ramirez)

Click here to watch this discussion.

June 20, 2022 - The Jewish Labor Committee had a special conversation about this historic worker-led unionizing effort, run by people who are also working their regularly scheduled shifts at work. More than 150 [update: now close to 190] Starbucks stores are now unionized - six months ago, none of them were. And workers at over 100 additional Starbucks locations have petitioned for union elections.
In a discussion with Arieh Lebowitz and Martin Schwartz of the JLC, hear David Melman, an Executive Vice President of Workers United, and Cori Schimko, who works at Starbucks in Nanuet, New York and helped lead her shop to a landslide union victory earlier in June: the first Starbucks in Rockland County to unionize. Employees there hope a union will help secure better wages, benefits and give them a voice in decision-making at their workplace. Click here to watch this powerful discussion of one part of the campaign to build barista power across the map, store by store.

JLC @ Mass Poor Peoples and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington

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[l-r: Michael Bauduy, Brittney-Willis Bauduy, Andy Banks, and Arieh Lebowitz]

June 18, 2022: Washington, DC - JLC was proud to join with many others, from across the USA, at the Mass Poor Peoples and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls, where we stood in solidarity with the 140 million poor and low wage workers demanding justice!

There are millions of poor and struggling people and communities in this country. We marched to demand a living wage, affordable health care, decent housing and a democratic society that guarantees dignity and respect for all.
During the march, hosted by the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, we came together in Washington, D.C., with state leaders, faith communities, moral allies and partnering organizations to not only take substantive action, but also to make our voices heard and demand an end to systemic inequality in all its forms.

We joined in declaring an ongoing, committed moral movement to:
* shift the moral narrative;
* build power;
* make real policies to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up.

The United States of America must live up to its possibilities and promises so every person living here can live a life of dignity and respect.

Hamantashen for Ukraine

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March 16, 2022 - Hamantashen for Ukraine is a show of bakery solidarity for the people of Ukraine. Profits of sales are donated directly by participating bakers to the Polish Humanitarian Action to help them assist Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border escaping the violence.

Find a bakery/store near you that's participating! Bakers are joining all over the world! This list is being updated regularly to add dates and locations! Please check the bakeries' individual websites and social media for opening times and availability!

""How Hamantashen for Ukraine Is Raising Funds Worldwide: Hamantashen for Ukraine is the latest international bake sale relief effort, just in time for Purim," by Emily Bloch, in Eater, Mar 14, 2022.

"To help Ukraine, these Jewish bakers are making hamantaschen," by Joe Baur, in The Nosher, March 7, 2022

You're Invited:
Jewish Labor Committee's Annual Human Rights Awards Gala - December 16th, 2021

We would be honored to have you join us for our
2021 Human Rights Awards Gala.

This year's virtual event will honor AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, and New York Hotel and Gaming Council, AFL-CIO, President Rich Maroko.
We will have the opportunity to hear from special guests including United States Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, and others.
Hearing these leaders' perspectives should be very informative and insightful.
You will not want to miss out.

 -- Stuart Appelbaum, President, Jewish Labor Committee

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To RSVP, order tickets, and to contribute, just click here.

Labor Day and Rosh Hashana Greetings!

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Together, we can forge a new year - good fortune, happiness, a livelihood and good health for all!

Once again, we are sending our best wishes for Labor Day, and also for a good, sweet and happy Rosh Hashana.

This year, Labor Day falls on Monday, September 6th, and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins that evening. There could not be a more appropriate confluence of events. As unions and labor organizations around the United States hold their annual Labor Day events, and as Jews around the world gather together -- virtually and in person -- it is an opportunity to reflect on the struggles working people have been facing, even before the pandemic.

This Labor Day Weekend, we have an opportunity to honor those who do the work necessary to keep our communities and our society going, and how work has come to be an experience of both pain and promise for many in our society.

Pain: we have seen the stresses and dangers faced by workers in a time of pandemic, from front-line workers at hospitals to those involved in transportation, to those working in the fields, in grocery stores and at food processing plants, and those who educate our children, or care for our elderly and infirm.

Promise: we have also seen critical gains for workers at such places as a Frito Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, where, after a 20-day strike, the management agreed to a key demand and a guarantee for one day off a week. Some workers there had to work seven days a week, including what they called "suicide shifts" and the company called "squeeze shifts"-- back-to-back 12-hour shifts with only eight hours off in between. The new two-year contract eliminates those shifts. And we salute workers who have bravely taken on mega-corporations, from Amazon warehouse workers to Starbucks baristas, trying to join unions.

Continue reading "Labor Day and Rosh Hashana Greetings!" »

Healthcare workers in NJ nursing facilities need your help!

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August 17, 2021: Westfield, NJ - Marty Schwartz, New Jersey JLC Coordinator, wearing a blue mask, stands with healthcare workers on strike at the Complete Care Nursing Facility in Westfield. To his left is brother Clauvice St. Hilaire, Vice-President of 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers. (Photo courtesy Bryn Lloyd-Bollard, 1199SEIU)

Please sign our letter calling on Complete Care Management (CCM) to bargain in good faith with the unions representing its staff at nursing homes they recently bought in New Jersey. Instead of honoring the contracts negotiated with the previous owners, CCM has cut heath insurance benefits, educational and retirement benefits, and paid time off. These essential workers have been on the front lines during the pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk. They should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Workers at several facilities throughout the Garden State owned by Complete Care Management are calling on CCM to bargain in good faith and to divulge information about how they are allocating the millions of dollars of additional Medicaid funds provided by the state due to the pandemic that were earmarked for increased salaries and benefits.

Now it's time to support them. Please sign our letter!

Mourning the Passing of Richard Trumka

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Richard Trumka Addressing Human Rights Dinner of the JLC, New York City, October 27th 2009.

August 5, 2021 - On learning of the death of AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka earlier today, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, issued the following statement.

"We were shocked to learn of the untimely passing of our friend and colleague, Rich Trumka, and send our deepest condolences to his family on this tragic day.

"He was committed to working men and women, their families and communities, from his early days as a third generation coal miner in Pennsylvania to his leadership of the United Mine Workers of America, and, for over a decade, as President of the AFL-CIO.

"He was an inspiration, and an ally. And the Jewish Labor Committee was fortunate enough to have him as a friend, and -- on a personal note -- I was as well.

"His work not only on behalf of the 12.5 million members of the 56 unions of the federation but on behalf of all workers, in fields and factories and schools and workplaces across the country, was deeply meaningful and important in the struggle to build a society that lifts us all up.

"We commit ourselves to continuing his work, and that of the larger labor movement that he headed and championed, and to building a more just, a fairer, and more equitable society.

"May his many achievements, and his dedication to securing better lives for working people over the years, serve as an inspiration to all who come after him. As it is said in Jewish tradition, may his memory be a blessing, and may his family know no more sorrow."

After Gaza: Toward a Just Resolution of the Conflict.

May 27, 2021 - As supporters of a two-state solution to the conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people, the Jewish Labor Committee opposes the continued Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. We support calls for meaningful peace negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward a negotiated end of that control and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel.

We are heartbroken by, and care deeply about the tragic loss of innocent lives on both sides - falling heaviest on civilians in Gaza. Yet, anyone who condemns the deaths of Palestinian civilians must also condemn the intentional launching by Hamas and related forces of rockets in densely-populated neighborhoods, in close proximity to schools, hospitals and other institutions. The escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel earlier in May was the result of Hamas forces firing what eventually amounted to over 4,000 rockets indiscriminately over the border into Israel. Hamas knew that its assault on Israeli civilians would bring a swift and harsh response.

East Jerusalem must not continue to be a flashpoint between its Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers attempting to take over property there. We oppose the attempts to forcibly evict Palestinian families from homes that they have lived in for as long as 60 years in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. We support a fair and just examination of the competing claims to the land upon which those homes were built. Eviction orders are now under appeal before Israel's Supreme Court.

We call on the United States to reassert a leadership role to assist in finding a just and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, we oppose recent calls for actions that will make it harder for forces in the peace camp and the democratic left within Israel to gain support for opposing continued Israeli control of the West Bank. Such measures would hamper the work of Israelis who call for respecting the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and within the State of Israel itself.

We also reject demands on the Biden Administration to "stop aid to Israel." We call for the U.S. to make certain that aid to Israel does not end up bolstering the settler movement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the massive infrastructure of military control that has been developed over the years. At the same time, we support the Biden Administration's efforts to assist in repairing the extensive destruction and damage in Gaza resulting from the recent conflict.

Since Israel came into existence as an independent state, the Jewish Labor Committee has supported the right of the State of Israel to exist and to defend itself, consonant with international law. Furthermore, we strongly support all efforts to secure equal civil and human rights for all Israeli citizens, including Palestinian Arabs and other ethnic and religious minorities. And we support the right of the Palestinian people to live freely in an independent Palestinian state that would respect the civil and human rights of Jews and other minorities in that country.

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