Read the full piece on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency site

By Julia Gergely

(New York Jewish Week) — Six local rabbis had planned to deliver a letter to a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based construction and demolition company on the morning of Wednesday, June 15. The letter, which drew upon Jewish values and teachings, was meant to urge the Jewish owners to reconsider their company’s working conditions and policies.

Instead of a simple drop-off, however, the rabbis ended up spending about 90 minutes with a representative of the Hasidic-owned Best Super Cleaning. The team walked away with tangible concessions for the mostly Latino and immigrant workers at the company.

“It was an unexpected meeting,” Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, the founder of Malkhut, a progressive Jewish community in Queens, told the New York Jewish Week. “We left with some agreements moving forward, some trust-building measures and some commitments to put some things in place to allow for better more direct communication between workers and management.”

The impromptu bargaining session between the rabbis and the business owners was part of a larger campaign that paired the left-wing Jewish activist organizations T’ruah, the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and Jews for Racial & Economic Justice with the Laundry Workers Center, a New York-based, member-led organization that advocates for better working conditions for laundry, warehouse, food service and construction workers in New York City and New Jersey.

Sophie Ellman-Golan, director of strategic communications for JFREJ, explained that campaigns with management tend to be very drawn out — it’s rare to sit down for a meeting right away.

“We feel like [the meeting] was so successful because of our comrades at T’ruah and JFREJ,” said labor organizer Mahoma Lopez, founder and co-director of the Laundry Workers Center, who accompanied the rabbis on Wednesday. “They wrote the letter and are putting a lot of pressure on the employer and a lot of people are watching.”

Read the full piece on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency site