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NEWS: Society for Humanistic Judaism
Stands Up for Workers' Rights

Farmington Hills, MI, July 28, 2011— As the right of workers to organize comes under attack, not only in the United States, but worldwide, we recognize that, as Humanistic Jews, we have an obligation to support efforts to preserve workers’ economic security and workplace safety, hard-won through the battles of the past century.  In this ongoing struggle for workers’ rights, the Society for Humanistic Judaism has issued a statement that reads in part:

 “Therefore be it resolved:

  • “That the Society for Humanistic Judaism proclaims its support for the rights of all workers to earn a fair wage and enjoy safe and reasonable working conditions as an expression of their human dignity, and
  • “That the Society for Humanistic Judaism proclaims its support of the institution of collective bargaining where necessary to protect the basic rights of workers to earn a fair wage and enjoy safe and reasonable working conditions, and
  • “That the Society for Humanistic Judaism urges all governments to protect the rights of workers to earn a fair wage and enjoy safe and reasonable working conditions.” (Full statement may be found online at http://www.shj.org/WorkersRights.html.)

The Core Principles of the Society for Humanistic Judaism state that as Humanistic Jews “we seek solutions to human conflicts that respect the freedom, dignity, and self-esteem of every human being.” Jewish tradition supports fair and appropriate treatment for workers, provides for a day of rest, and exhorts all to “not take advantage of the hired worker.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by the U. S. A. in 1992 and Canada in 1976) states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests (article 22).”

The negation of workers’ ability to preserve safe and just working conditions and fair wages threatens a sound economic structure and future generations.  Collective bargaining enables workers to have a meaningful voice in negotiating with their employers to ensure that they receive a fair wage, reasonable working conditions, a safe work environment, and job security. Efforts to deny the rights of workers to collective bargaining curtail workers’ pursuit of economic justice.

“The dignity and equality of all people are threatened by the ongoing attacks on workers’ rights,” said Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. “As Humanistic Jews, we cannot allow the clock to be turned back to a time when the rights of workers to safe working conditions, a fair wage, and job security are nullified. Our tradition supports collective bargaining as a fundamental civil right, one that enforces economic justice and promotes citizens’ abilities to influence their own lives.”

The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the national umbrella organization for Humanistic Jewish congregations in North America. Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Jewish culture that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life. Humanistic Jews believe in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity, seeking solutions to human conflicts that respect the dignity, freedom, and self-esteem of every person.

This growing movement provides a community for many unaffiliated Jews who identify as cultural, secular, “just Jewish” and “not very religious.” Forty-nine percent of the United States' 5.5 million Jews say that their outlook is secular and forty-eight percent do not belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organization, according to the American Jewish Identification Survey undertaken by professional statisticians under the auspices of the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York. The Society helps to organize local congregations and havurot, creates and disseminates celebrational and educational materials, provides national programs, including programs for teens and young adults, and serves the needs of individual members who do not live near an existing Humanistic congregation.

For more information, contact the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

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