Jun 1, 1999
Human Law and Dignity
Jewish law commands us to uphold tile dignity of all workers regardless of their station or task. Relations between employer and employee are spelled out explicitly in the Torah.
Agricultural workers, many of whom are migrants, remain among the most wretched segments of our society, victims of scandalous living conditions and wages. They are routinely denied healthcare and education for their children, ensuring that they will remain on the bottom rung of our society. Migrant workers are regularly deported to their countries of origin and deprived of the opportunity to better them while their employers benefit from their inexpensive labor.
At the same time, modem technology has brought with it new problems for the work force along with benefits for all Americans. For example, workers in factories may be exposed to dangerous chemicals or radiation, the effects of which are not recognized or diagnosed for many years. Recent class actions suits brought by tile victims of serious work related disorders point up the need for scrupulous research into occupational hazards.
As the need has arisen, workers have organized themselves to preserve the dignity of human beings and protect them from exploitation. The RCA is proud to have been one of the first national Rabbinic bodies to have supported the United Farm Workers in their efforts to organize the vineyards and produce fields of California. Similar efforts are underway in other areas of the country where migrant laborers are found.
We therefore resolve that:
The RCA and its member congregations reaffirm their support for the United Farm Workers in their struggle to bring justice to all agricultural laborers.
The RCA strongly supports legislation to ban sweatshop labor and to hold contractors responsible for any subcontractor exploiting their workers.
The RCA and its constituents shall speak out vigorously whenever human dignity is compromised by unsafe working conditions.