Rabbi Saperstein: "Unions act as an ally and represent those workers without a voice, ensuring their rights and shielding them from abuse. The new law threatens the well-being of Michigan workers and exposes them to misrepresentation and manipulation".
Washington, D.C., December 17, 2012 - In response to Michigan's enactment of "right-to-work" legislation, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
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"We are greatly troubled by passage of a new "right-to-work" law in Michigan. This law is a direct affront to laborers and their allies and could severely curtail the effectiveness of existing unions. When workers choose to unionize, those unions bargain on behalf of and represent in grievance proceedings all members -- whether or not they pay dues. Right-to-work laws make it more difficult for unions to represent effectively workers and ensure the protection of their rights.
The Reform Jewish Movement is proud of its longstanding and historic commitment to the right of workers to organize. That commitment is rooted in an appreciation for our tradition that commands us to treat the laborers in our communities justly. "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of your land" (Deut. 24:13). Unions act as an ally and represent those workers otherwise without a voice, ensuring their rights and shielding them from abuse. The new law threatens the well-being of Michigan workers and exposes them to misrepresentation and manipulation.
Labor unions have helped secure the 40-hour workweek, a minimum wage, and child labor laws. The growing trend of state efforts to circumscribe the rights of private and public sector employees undermines our nation's commitment to workers and, indeed, our national economic and social well-being. We will continue to support the right of workers to organize and uphold labor rights."