Workers’ Rights Examined in Jewish-Muslim Text Study

May 9, 2012

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 Walker repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act that had offered legal avenues to fight wage discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation.

Muslim chaplain Abbas Chinoy (at top, in photo at left); and Rabbi Victor Mirelman (in center of photo at right).

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.

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“A Special Day for Everyone in Illinois”: State DREAM Act Signing

August 1, 2011

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Illinois DREAM Act into law on August 1, 2011. Below are remarks from Quinn and others on the importance of the DREAM.

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Gov. Pat Quinn

“It’s a special day for everyone in Illinois. We are showing the whole country that our state, Illinois, the most diverse state in the whole Union, is the best reflection of the entire country’s population. We’re showing today, by my signature on this bill, what democracy is all about: when people band together and work together for a common goal, for a common good.”

Arianna Salgado (undocumented student), PASO/ Nuestra Voz

“Today we celebrate our victory– a day when education is upheld in Illinois and undocumented students are acknowledged and respected.”

“The Illinois DREAM Act was not only urgent, it was urgent to our parents who have sacrificed everything to make sure that we achieved our dreams.”

“We are here to celebrate not just another victory, but the passage of legislation that puts Illinois at the forefront nationwide as a state that recognizes that all students deserve the same opportunity to continue their education. Today we make history again as we send a message across our great nation that education is valued and that every single student should be able to thrive, regardless of their immigration status.”

Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-Elmwood Park)

“We like to offer people opportunities to help themselves and this piece of legislation totally does that.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“It’s only fitting that Illinois has chosen a different path on immigration than other states in the nation.”

“[The Illinois DREAM Act] is only an opportunity. Now we must seize it.”

Illinois Sen. Pres. John Cullerton

“I am very proud that I sponsored this bill. It’s not everything that we wanted, but it’s a good start.”

Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago)

“If you dedicate yourself to the American dream then you are American.”

Dr. Michael Hogan, president of the University of Illinois

“I’m honored to be here as we remove another border between dreams and reality.”

Raul Raymundo, chief executive officer of The Resurrection Project

“It’s not enough for the DREAMers to go on to college and not be able to work after that. The job is not done. We need to continue to work extra hard toward achieving the federal DREAM Act. Illinois can demonstrate to the country that Republicans and Democrats can come together and make a difference.”

Congratulations Illinois: Death Penalty Abolished!

March 9, 2011

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

March 9, 2011– Today Gov. Pat Quinn made the courageous decision that has led to Illinois becoming the 16th state to abolish the death penalty. Today marks a triumphant victory for abolition advocates across the state, for national allies, and for families who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to see the end of a system that has been deemed “cruel and unusual” and “too flawed to fix.”

For decades JCUA has been working with our allies to end the death penalty system in Illinois.  We want to thank all of you at JCUA that have worked with us over the years on this issue and also those who called the governor over the past six weeks urging him to take this critical step to ensure the fulfillment of the human right of all Illinois residents to life with respect and dignity.

We’d also like to thank all local and statewide advocates, and our national allies who have worked tirelessly over the past decade. In particular we commend the organizers and advocates at Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for their courage and their clarity to see this legislation through to the very end.

Lastly we commend the state legislature and Gov. Quinn for taking the time to hear the will of the people on this matter and for making the choice that the people support. Our collective hard work on this issue will ensure that Illinois serve as a beacon of hope for advocates and legislators in other states across the country.

Our hard work proves that when we work together in solidarity, justice can and will be achieved.

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