Workers’ Rights


Spending money on any product is a vote for the producer and one of the greatest influences we have on society is through our decision-making of where to spend our money. And indeed, much of modern western society has been taken over by excessive consumption and what many theologians have called an idolatry for materialism. In all that we do, and in all that we purchase, we must be cognizant of how our spending affects the broader world. But even more so, we must be aware that even a small change in our purchase power could have major ramifications in the marketplace. At the heart of workers’ rights in the recognition that many workers are invisible to us. They wake up early in the morning and go home late at night, all the while working in backrooms far from our prying eyes. Jewish tradition says, No! We must not ignore these people. For even though society may not deem them worthy of having a modicum of dignity, we know that they are imbued with an irrevocable heavenly dignity. Thus, in all that we do, we must have these workers at the forefront of our mind so that we ensure that they are treated fairly, paid justly, and given protection against exploitation and castigation.

 

Sources:

The Dignity of the Worker

Competition, Pricing, Consumer Responsibility and Fair Trade in a Global Economy: A Modern Jewish Perspective

Workers’ Rights: Ethics, Kashrut and Kedusha

Kosher is Yosher: The Ethics of Eating Kosher

Workers in Jewish Thought and Text

Worker Protest & Organizing in Jewish Tradition

 

 

Take Action!

  • Put pressure on local corporate leaders in our communities and
    beyond who are accused of underpaying or mistreating workers to
    abide by certain ethical procedures and Jewish law.
  • Lobby your representative to raise the standards of ethical trade and to
    ensure that all trade agreements include enforceable regulations that
    maintain just labor standards.
  • Help build consumer awareness of fair trade products, purchase
    them yourself, and be sure that your schools, synagogues, and offices
    do the same. Encourage your local supermarket to supply more fair
    trade products
  • Avoid purchasing products from companies with known predatory
    tendencies or labor injustices
  • Ensure all establishments that you patronize abide by environmentally
    friendly practices and pay their workers fairly.
  • Take opportunities if and when possible to travel and speak with
    individuals from other cultures and learn about their lives, livelihoods,
    concerns, and ideologies
  • Learn more about the Torah’s laws and values around just business
    practice (Choshen Mishpat). Also learn more about the intricacies of
    capitalism, socialism, globalization and philosophies of economic
    oppression and human dignity.

 

Get Involved! Contact one of these organizations to work on this issue more directly