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Labor Issues: Position of the Reform Movement

Position of the Reform Jewish Movement

The Torah emphasizes the importance of fairness to workers. "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer", but you must pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)."

Unions are models of self-sufficiency: workers stand up to demand their own rights. As Jews we have an obligation not only to assist the downtrodden but also to help those in need become self-sufficient (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah), a goal we can pursue by promoting unions.

The Union for Reform Judaism has often affirmed its commitment to America's workers. A 1961 resolution on "Migrant Farmers" states the Union for Reform Judaism's commitment to raise the status of farm-workers from degradation to "dignity and equality." A 1948 resolution entitled "Urging Elimination of Labor and Management Abuses" looks back on the strident labor reform of the 1930s: "We rejoice in the gains that labor has made in the past generation and hope that they will be retained. We urge that abuses in labor and management will be remedied."

The CCAR has spoken out directly in its support of unions. In a 1921 resolution, the CCAR resolved, "Under the present organization of society, labor's only safeguard against a retrogression to former inhuman standards is the union."

Other CCAR Resolutions:
Resolution on Laborers (1975)
Resolution on Organized Labor (1985)
​Resolution on Sweatshops and Child Labor (1997)