February 15, 2013
Labor activists protest NFTY convention
Nine-hundred students at this weekend's North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) convention at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel got a first-hand look at social action when they found themselves in the middle of a real-time, all-Jewish labor dispute.
Friday morning, visitors from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and NFTY were greeted by about 25 members of the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC), who demanded that NFTY cancel the national convention. The JLC called for the picket line because the hotel is a non-unionized business and has been boycotted by UNITE HERE Local 11 for several years.
Mark Pelavin, senior adviser to URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said that URJ's policy is to not book events at hotels with labor disputes and that the biannual conference should have been at a different venue. But, he added, the convention will go on.
NFTY is handing out Ralphs grocery store gift cards to hotel workers as contrition for not honoring the boycott, but JLC plans to picket the convention again over the weekend.