Wisconsin Rabbis Defend Workers' Rights with Faith
A letter coordinated by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and signed by 16 Wisconsin Rabbis from across the denominational spectrum, including representatives of every Reform congregation in the state, was sent today to Wisconsin Senate leaders, opposing provisions of Governor Scott Walker's proposed Budget Repair Bill that would eliminate collective bargaining for state employees. You can read the full text of the letter in a press release issued by the Religious Action Center by following this link.
This letter forcefully demonstrates that Jewish leaders from every corner of the state and from multiple denominational backgrounds concur that Governor Walker's proposal is fundamentally contrary to Jewish values. The mitzvot articulated in the Torah are unwavering in defending workers' basic right to employment with dignity, which in this modern era of labor relations can only be guaranteed through the process of collective bargaining. Deuteronomy commands, "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow Israelite or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay out the wages due on the same day, before the sun sets, for the worker is needy and urgently depends on it..." (24:14-15). When workers are denied a democratic voice in the workplace, their ability to prevent abuse and destitution at the hands of their employer is subverted.
These rabbis, in forcefully asserting the relevance of the tenets of our faith in the debate before the Wisconsin State Legislature, demonstrate courage and conviction. People of many backgrounds have exhibited profound consciousness and solidarity in opposing this anti-labor legislation. The protesters at the State Capitol make me proud to be a Badger. In addition, I am especially proud today to be a member of a Wisconsin congregation--Beth Hillel Temple in Kenosha.