The Conservative Movement is moving ahead with its Tzedek Hechsher, meant to supervise how kosher food producers and other related businesses deal with their employees. The Forward reports:
“If you haven’t been supervising for these issues, it’s not automatically going to happen,” said Rabbi Morris Allen, who has chaired the five-person committee. “Just like if you don’t supervise how a chicken is killed, it won’t necessarily be killed properly. What we are doing now is beginning to provide a means by which we can say, ‘We’re watching; this matters.’”
Allen’s committee is now in the process of planning a pilot program that may be used with select kosher factories. The committee is contracting with a consulting company that specializes in evaluating manager-employee relations. Allen said he hopes that the groundwork for the program will be complete by Rosh Hashanah, which falls in September.
The progress here is very slow, to say the least. The "groundwork" will be "completed" almost 1.5 years after this process began. God knows when, or if, these guys will ever supervise a real, live plant. But at least these rabbis recognize the problem:
“There shouldn’t be any Jew that isn’t concerned about this,” Allen said. “There has, until now, been a greater stringency in kashruth on the smoothness of a cow’s lung, and people have forgotten that the Torah also speaks about the safety of the worker.”…
“We have turned our focus from trying to fix one piece [Rubashkin] to trying to fix the entire industry,” Allen said. “We did one preliminary screen in which none of the major players in the kosher meat market did well on [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] reports.”
How have the Conservative rabbis impacted the problem? Not at all, it seems:
…The Conservative rabbis who visited the Postville plant issued a report in December, in which they said that “there are significant issues of concern at the plant, including issues of health and safety.”
At the time, the members of the Conservative committee said they were trying to work with the Rubashkins to change conditions at the plant, but there was little concrete movement on that front. Today, workers at the plant say that nothing has changed.
Hard to bring change shuffling paper, now isn't it? Well intentioned? Yes. Effective? Not even close.
Heschel would have been on a picket line. He would have organized boycotts. He would have inspired others. He would have demanded change. And he would have achieved.
These guys send each other memos and "lay groundwork." And they wonder why their movement is collapsing around them.