Menu JTA Search

Shochtim Set to Begin Strike; Plans Devised

Strike committees were organized and plans for a general strike of the poultry slaughterers formulated in readiness for an expected walkout Wednesday by the members of Shochtim Union Local 440 who met last night at the Great Central Palace, 96 Clinton street.

Slaughterers will be sent to markets today—more slaughterers than the market owners desire, but enough to kill at the contracted fifty coops per week. If the extra shochtim are expelled from the markets—a step regarded as almost certain—the strike will be declared.

The decision came during a turbulent meeting of 300 slaughterers, marked by shouting and fiery speeches. Among the speakers were: Philip Chodesh, Rabbi Moses Leiter, Charles Herbert, Israel Boschkowitz, Eli Meltzer and Arthur Simon.

Earlier in the day, Mayor La-Guardia conferred with a delegation from the union and declared that the union must take some action like a strike before he could step in to help the slaughterers. The conference was called by the Mayor.

The delegation, consisting of executives of local 440, complained to the Mayor of the alleged conspiracy and asked that Arthur Simon, who was present, be appointed mediator in the poultry market difficulties.

SIMON DISQUALIFIED AS ARBITER

The Mayor declared that the recommendation by the slaughterers disqualified Simon as an impartial mediator, “Besides he is too close to me,” the mayor said, “to be a mediator. He’s going to be my adviser in this thing.”

The Mayor asked that the four reporters present submit suggestions for a mediator, upon which he would act. The reporters, in an impromptu conference afterwards, agreed on Judge Otto Rosalsky as the best choice, and he will be the leading candidate of the reporters when they meet the Mayor today.

Mordecai Belkin, one of the delegation’s spokesmen, declared to the Mayor that there is a difference in price of thirteen cents between kosher and non-kosher chicken. Of this, he said, less than one-half cent is paid to the slaughterer who makes the chicken kosher.

SLAUGHTERING A COMMUNAL AFFAIR

Eli Meltzer, the other spokesman, asserted that there is no authority to tell the market men what to do. Slaughtering of poultry, he said, is not a private affair, but an affair of Jewish communal interest because of the Kashruth involved.

“We are concerned not only with earning our bread,” Meltzer said, “but with fulfilling our responsibility to deliver kosher poultry to the Jewish community.

“The market men are enforcing a lockout against us aimed at forcing us to accept poorer conditions. They are compelling us to kill more poultry per week than we can kill in accordance with the kosher laws. Therefore, at the rate chickens are now being slaughtered, I do not believe that they are kosher.”

“How many chickens are you supposed to kill per week?” the Mayor queried.

“Fifty coops per week according to our contracts with the market men,” answered Meltzer, “and fifty coops per week according to the report of Arthur Simon who stated that is the maximum that can be killed in a week by the complex kosher method.”

“Then why don’t you stop when you have killed that many?” asked Mayor LaGuardia.

“All we can do is strike,” responded Meltzer, “and that’s what we’ll have to do at tonight’s meeting.”

During the course of the meeting, the Mayor suggested that a commission of five rabbis be set up to license slaughterers. When it was pointed out that there was no law in existence covering this, he declared, “We’ll make one.”

At present any rabbis may certify a poultry slaughterer. “If you were to go on strike,” the Mayor pointed out, “rabbis could defeat you by issuing hundreds of certificates to men who are not in your union.”

Mayor LaGuardia himself eats only kosher food.

NEXT STORY