Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hekhsher Tsedek

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is drawing up standards for a proposed hekhsher tsedek, or righteous certification, attesting that employees worked in safe factories and weren't exploited, among other things. The new certification would supplement, not replace, the kosher certification.

"We were so concerned that the animal is slaughtered in the most humane way," he said, "that we overlooked the person standing right next to it."

The move gained momentum after a May article in the Forward, a national Jewish newspaper, describing the long hours, unsafe working conditions and exploitation of employees at a kosher meat-packing plant in Iowa.

"She has worked 10- to 12-hour night shifts, six nights a week," said the Forward story, describing one of the immigrant workers. "Her cutting hand is swollen and deformed, but she has no health insurance to have it checked. She works for wages, starting at $6.25 an hour and stopping at $7, that several industry experts described as the lowest of any slaughterhouse in the nation."
While I have no idea how to pronounce it, I find this Hekhsher Tsedek labeling idea very interesting.

I agree that it is ironic to focus on focus more on treating animals humanely and then ignore the human workers. I would be willing to pay more to make sure the workers have a safe environment and get paid a decent wage. If the government regulations and enforcement aren't living up to what I want, a private label that does their own certification seems like a good way to go to make it happen. The more transparency on working conditions, the better.

I would also have no problem if we use more machines and robots and took humans out of this work altogether. These jobs suck. You can make them better but I don't think you can ever make them good jobs.

via Inside Bay Area

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