Last month I accidentally bought a barrel of Flaum pickles. My wife Shoshana’s mouth dropped when she saw it in the house, knowing that my organization Uri L’Tzedek was leading the campaign to end Flaum’s labor violations including wage theft, overtime violations, and more. We gave the pickles away to a gentleman working valet. Tonight, I would like to celebrate a massive social justice victory with a Flaum pickle.
After a 2 year campaign, Flaum Appetizing has just accepted a labor settlement that will return over half a million dollars to workers’ pockets!
Uri L’Tzedek, in partnership with the workers’ groups “Focus on the Food Chain” and Brandworkers persuaded over 120 grocery store locations nationwide to stop selling Flaum products due to the company’s wage theft.
This was, of course, not only a big victory for Uri L’Tzedek and the Orthodox Social Justice movement but also for workers around the country. Maria Corona, a Focus on the Food Chain member and Flaum worker who had been illegally fired, said, “More than anything, I want fellow workers in the food factories and warehouses to know that there is real power in coming together and struggling together. We won the respect we deserve, and they can, too.”
This Uri L’Tzedek campaign was primarily led by Rabbi Ari Hart, one of the most important Orthodox rabbis in America and one of the most effective Jewish activists in the world today. He operates like a ninja in the night, fighting for justice under the radar for the long haul. In my Los Angeles office last week, I watched him on the phone working through negotiations between various parties, delicately balancing complex, competing interests. I am deeply inspired by the change Rabbi Hart is leading.
Tonight, I would like to celebrate with a Flaum pickle. Tomorrow, it is time to collectively re-strategize the next worker injustice issue to take on until the end. Together, we can and will change the world.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder & President of Uri L’Tzedek, the Founder & CEO of The Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, the Director of Jewish Life & the Senior Jewish Educator at the UCLA Hillel and a 6th year doctoral candidate at Columbia University in Moral Psychology & Epistemology. Rav Shmuly’s book “Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century” is now available on Amazon. In April 2012, Newsweek named Rav Shmuly one of the most influential rabbis in America.