The 2016 Labor Seder focused on good jobs, and the policies we need to ensure that every hardworking person has access to one.
We learned about four policies that have the potential to transform working conditions in America: fair scheduling in retail, paid family leave, an increased and universal minimum wage for all workers, and paid sick days. Together we learned, listened, and took action, adding our voices to this contemporary liberation story.
Rabbi Aaron Alexander, of Adas Israel, helped guide our program. Many thanks to our powerful speakers:
- Kimberly Mitchell, local activist, Macy's Associate, and member of UFCW Local 400, who spoke about Fair Scheduling;
- Travis Ballie, who spoke about the DC Paid Family Leave Campaign;
- Gaby Madriz, Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington DC (ROC-DC), who spoke about the Fight for $15 and One Fair Wage;
- and Dr. Gabriela Miller, owner of Montgomery Village Eye Center and Ethan Miller, JUFJ Paid Sick Days campaign leader and Communication Assistant at Jobs with Justice, who spoke about MD's fight for paid sick days.
We are also grateful to the many others who spoke, read, and shared in our evening together. In particular, our partners and friends at DC Jobs with Justice, DC Working Families, Restaurant Opportunities Center-DC, DC Paid Family Leave Coalition, MLOV, CASA de Maryland, UFCW Local 400, SEIU 32BJ, Progressive Maryland, Montgomery County Young Democrats, MomsRising, and Working Families Maryland, lent immeasurable support, and consistent inspiration in their tireless work for justice.
Thanks to Adam Glazer and Hilary Shure for donating their photographic and video talents; and to The Sanctuaries for their soulful musical performance.
Why a Seder about Good Jobs?
On Passover, the Jewish people celebrate our liberation from slavery, and relive our ancient history through the seder. Freedom is not something we take for granted: the Jewish freedom story has become a central thread through our long history, and we are commanded to remember the Exodus every day.
The bitterness of slavery in Egypt, we learn from the Torah, was not just a general oppression but specifically an experience of “harsh labor” that became more onerous and painful as Pharaoh’s grip on the ancient Israelites tightened. This year, our Labor Seder connects that story to people today fighting for decent jobs.
Harsh labor is still with us. Most of the new jobs that have been created since the Great Recession are in low-wage industries and have few benefits. People who work for low pay rarely have any paid leave, whether they need it for the flu, cancer, or a new baby. Many struggle to get by on part-time, last-minute work when they want and need a full-time schedule. Today, the American dream we so want to believe in—the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be able to support yourself, contribute to your community, and give your children a better life—is no longer a reality. While struggling Americans are not slaves, no one should feel enslaved in a job that keeps them mired in the oppression of poverty. Yet too many people today are trapped in poverty by corporate and political systems that block opportunities.
The 2016 seder focused on four policies that have the potential to transform working conditions in America: fair scheduling in retail, paid family leave, an increased and universal minimum wage for all workers, and paid sick days. Together we learned, listened, and took action, adding our voices to this contemporary liberation story.