The Rabbis Plan To Raise Ethical Awareness At Work

I’ve yet to hear of the rabbis ever asking any worker if there was a need for their ethics initiative. It sounds to me like this is an entirely top-down initiative.

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin writes in the Jewish Journal:

Peulat Sachir offers a covenant agreement to any business owner who complies with the six basic areas of labor law as required by the state of California: (1) minimum wage, (2) payment of overtime wages, (3) provision of meal and rest breaks, (4) leave policy, (5) workers’ compensation insurance and (6) discrimination/harassment policies.

Additionally, Peulat Sachir will host regular seminars on ethical business practices, which will be open to the general public.

Of course, one could argue: What’s the point of an attestation that someone is just obeying the law? In today’s world of Bernard Madoff rip-offs, kosher production scandals, subprime mortgage meltdowns and corporate greed, plenty. The simple public affirmation that I as a business owner comply with dina d’malchuta (the law of the land) is an important step toward the reformation of an unhealthy business culture.

One might also argue: Why focus so narrowly on this one area of business ethics? What about tax law? Immigration law? Clearly, there are many legal areas within the complex world of business that could and should be addressed.

For one thing, we’ve got to start somewhere. But it’s more than that; we believe that raising awareness about one area of ethics will positively spill over to others.

The employer who respects the law by meticulously paying overtime is more likely to report accurately on his tax return; someone who proudly procures workers’ compensation insurance for his minimum-wage employees is more likely to care about the needs of other underprivileged members of society.

The Peulat Sachir mission statement is thus twofold: To engender a new culture for Jewish businesses — one of commitment to the highest ethical and moral standards in all aspects of business — and to raise awareness of what we in the religious community expect from our vendors and, ultimately, from ourselves.

Those who appreciate what Peulat Sachir is trying to do will want to preferentially patronize those establishments that have signed a covenant. Those who don’t, won’t.

Peulat Sachir in no way penalizes or blacklists businesses that can’t or won’t sign on to the concept. Ultimately, it’s up to the public to decide the success of the Peulat Sachir initiative.

Who knows? Maybe Peulat Sachir will become a model for other communities. And just maybe, by elevating the sanctity of our businesses, we and our assets will all be blessed in the process.

If you are a local business owner and would like to receive more information, contact Peulat Sachir at info@peulatsachir.net.

JANET FUCHS WRITES TO THE JEWISH JOURNAL:

I heartily agree with David Suissa and his reservations about the new certificate indicating that Jewish businesses uphold labor laws (“Laboring for Ethics,” March 6). If the Rubashkin scandal [Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse] is what prompted the certification idea, it is hardly the most noxious scandal in the Jewish community.

Why are we not issuing certificates to money managers to avoid other Madoff-style swindles? Why do we not certify that rabbis in our community aren’t molesting children and avert scandals like the one that hit the National Conference of Synagogue Youth? Why single out the Jewish shopkeeper?

California has an exorbitant minimum wage, and aggressive labor regulation. If the rabbis involved in the certification movement believe that shops along Pico Boulevard are in violation of these regulations, they should report the store owner to the authorities, not engage in feckless, feel-good activism.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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