Reflections on Our Text Study on Workers’ Rights
Just before May Day, the traditional celebration of workers’ rights, we came together to explore what Jewish and Muslim traditions contribute to the current discussion on labor.
Sponsored by JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, this text study featured Rabbi Victor Mirelman and Muslim chaplain Abbas Chinoy who facilitated the event on a rainy Sunday evening in the comfortable Dollop Café in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
The need to contemplate labor issues has gained urgency around the Midwest. In Wisconsin, only a few months ago Gov. Scott Walker made it almost impossible for public employees to organize; and in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also changing the city’s relationship with its employees. It wasn’t even a month ago that Gov. Walker repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act that had offered legal avenues to fight wage discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation.
The evening began with this question: How have worker rights (or lack thereof) influenced peoples’ lives?
While one participant had very positive experiences with her union, another expressed her disappointment with the union of which she had been a member; she said she had been neither well informed or well cared for.