Major Jewish Religious Group Supports Consumer Boycott of Stevens Products

The growing national consumer boycott against products made by the giant J.P. Stevens textile corporation received a significant boost when the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), at its annual convention held at Grossinger, New York on June 23, voted unanimously to endorse the boycott, it won reported here by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Canadian Labor Congress.

The endorsement by the CCAR, the 1300-member organization of Reform rabbis in the U.S. and Canada, came in the form of a resolution which urged “that the boycott of the J.P. Stevens Company products be supported until such time as collective bargaining takes place in good faith”; and that “encouraged” members of the CCAR “to support and strengthen the Stevens boycott.”

Citing “the condition of the textile workers at the J.P. Stevens Company,” and the numerous judgements by the National Labor Relations Board and various federal courts that found the Stevens Corporation guilty of unfair labor practices, the resolution said the CCAR came “to the considered judgement that the J.P. Stevens Company has refused to recognize the legal right of its workers to organize and bargain.”

The resolution endorsed the boycott as a means of supporting the Stevens workers’ struggle “to achieve economic justice and humane safe working conditions through collective bargaining.” Prior to the endorsement vote, the discussion stressed that adoption of the resolution involved an obligation to enlist support for the boycott among the member-rabbi’s congregations and other members of the community, the union reported.

UNION HAILS CCAR ACTION

“The unanimous backing of the Stevens boycott of the CCAR is particularly striking since it is the first major Jewish organization to consider the issue at the national level,” union officials said. The mammoth Southern-based Stevens corporation, the nation’s second largest textile producer, has increasingly become the target of concerned community, religious, labor and campus organizations.

“A resurgence if the Civil Rights coalition of the 1960s, in which the Jewish community played such a significant role, appears to be growing in support of Stevens’ 45,000 workers,” the union noted. “Many Catholic and Protestant groups have already voted to endorse the boycott, and increased interreligious activity backing the Stevens campaign can be expected to follow the Reform rabbis’ unanimous action.”

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