Friday, February 8, 2008

Shabbat Ideas - February 8, 2008

It is Friday and I am not as lazy as I was last week, so here are my Shabbat Thoughts for February 8, 2008:
Hoffa: Zionist and Union Leader
Rabbis with no opinion or just hoping to keep their 501c3 status?
Jewcy Guide to Israel Apartheid Week (I came up with the Palestine is for Lovers shirt, so I want some credit for that)
Killed by the Bomb, not the Bullet … but still dead

As news of the WGA strike possibly coming to an end is on the front page of many papers throughout the country, I read about a very interesting and meaningful organization movement that is relegated to the third page of a free daily paper in New York City. Today the Metro covered the termination of Felipe Garcia due to his request to unionize his kitchen at the Citigroup Center in Manhattan.

Mr. Garcia, a legal immigrant worker, worked for years in the kitchen for less than $11 a hour for the Aramark food-service company. After a few months of working towards organizing with UNITE HERE and letting the Citigroup leadership know about this desire, Garcia and some of his kitchen co-workers were fired. They were offered jobs else were, but only in places where they would have to cross a picket line.

If you have ever read a post on Unions from the POLJ site, you know I am not a blind fan of Unions. Many are just as bad as the companies they are working against. However, when low wage workers, employed by execs bringing home seven figure bonuses as the company is losing money, I tend to side with the Unionization efforts. UNITE HERE has been fighting the good fight now as Manufacturing Unions refuse to modernize and the WGA pretends that they are in a battle for what is right.

The coverage of the writers strike is simply because so many of the people writing the news are personally connected to it. Just this week the Forward published an article about the Jews in LA feeling the pain in the pocketbook, but the following lines really brings it all home:
At Hanukkah time, one month into the Hollywood writer’s strike, Rabbi Sharon Brous, founding rabbi of IKAR, a spiritual community on Los Angeles’s West Side, sent out an e-mail to her congregants, expressing support for members of the Writers Guild of America. Her position was a no-brainer, in some respects. Brous, who framed the cause as one of workers’ rights, is known for her views on social justice. Plus, the political was also personal: Her husband, David Light, is a screenwriter.

To conflate the issue of paying thousands of dollars for synagogue dues with knocking out rent is an unfair and unethical argument. The writers have a real gripe and hopefully both sides will figure out how to act like grownups so I can watch something besides reality TV. However for Mr. Garcia and his colleagues, the Unionization effort will lead to real change in their lives. The difference between fair wages and distribution of profits is as great as night and day. The kitchen workers at Citi aren’t asking for dividends; they are asking for a living wage and benefits.

This issue should be on the front page for concerned citizens and the allies of the writers strike. But I have yet to see this fight anywhere but the Morning Metro.

Shabbat Shalom

No comments: