27 rabbis from the Chicagoland area have extended their support to SEIU Local 73 union members working throughout the Jewish Federation, including CJE SeniorLife, Jewish Child and Family Services, Jewish Community Centers of Chicago, and Jewish United Fund. The members are currently in the midst of bargaining a new contract, one that they hope reflects the tireless efforts they’ve made for the communities that the Jewish Federation serves.
“Core to our Jewish values are the ideas of avodah (sacred service) and tzedek (justice). Our sages believed that work should be a means of granting dignity to workers, and that one’s wages should be sufficient to pay for one’s family’s basic needs,” said the rabbis in a statement to the Jewish Federation of Chicago and its affiliates. “Justice means guaranteeing that our social service programs are fully funded and sustained in a manner that ensures that the highest level of service is provided to members of our community […] We need to invest in community-based programs and social services, support the right to fair union representation in the workplace, and must foster family-friendly and sustainable working conditions. “
Workers throughout the Jewish Federation of Chicago system have struggled with inadequate pay, chronic low staffing, and basic protections of their right to organize freely. While the two sides have moved towards each other on a handful of important matters, they are far apart on many core issues workers hope to see improved in a new contract.
“As union members at the Jewish Federation of Chicago and affiliated social service agencies, we are deeply embedded in the Jewish community and driven by the Jewish values that infuse our work,” said Lili Gecker, Clinician II at JCFS Response for Teens and bargaining team leader. “We are proud to have the solidarity from Rabbis and leaders in the Jewish community who support us in our goal of winning a contract that will allow our workforce and our essential human services to thrive, and in our fight for the basic union rights found in any other contract.”
Negotiations between SEIU Local 73 and Jewish Federation management continue on January 12, 2023. The full letter of support from the rabbis can be found here.