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JVS and AFSCME Local 800 Reach A Fair Agreement

Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches Jewish Thought at California State University at Long Beach and serves as affiliated clergy at Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. She strives to live and teach a Judaism that is rich with answers and productive questions for people who seek meaning, justice, and kindness in a complex world. She Rabbi Podolsky has published articles in the Journal of Jewish Ethics, the Pluralist, Response, and European Judaism.

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Rabbi Robin Podolsky
Rabbi Robin Podolsky teaches Jewish Thought at California State University at Long Beach and serves as affiliated clergy at Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. She strives to live and teach a Judaism that is rich with answers and productive questions for people who seek meaning, justice, and kindness in a complex world. She Rabbi Podolsky has published articles in the Journal of Jewish Ethics, the Pluralist, Response, and European Judaism.

Just in time for the post-vaccination economic reawakening, JVS SoCal (formerly Jewish Vocational Services) and its workers, represented by AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 800 have reached a bargaining agreement that offers reasonable cost of living increases, strong benefits and much-needed job protections for employees.

The JVS administrative/original unit members will receive a 3.25% immediate increase in pay (3% retroactive to July 1, 2019 and the full 3.25% retroactive to July 1, 2020), another 1.5% increase on July 1, 2021 and 1.75% on July 1, 2022, a $500 bonus, plus improved severance benefits in case of layoffs.  JVS GAIN employees will receive a 3%-5% increase over the 1 ½ year agreement. The workers also won improved sick leave and vacation benefits and recall rights for laid-off employees. People who have been employed for less than one year will see a 5% increase in their first year.

This contract was achieved, not only through negotiation but also through protracted involvement by a broad range of community stakeholders. More than a dozen rabbis and over one hundred Jewish community members signed a letter of solidarity with the workers. Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice joined with the LA County Federation of Labor and other organizations to send letters of their own. The West Hollywood City Council, led by Mayor Lindsey Horvath and Councilmember John Erickson, unanimously passed a resolution supporting the union workers, and LA City Councilman Paul Koretz sent a letter to JVS SoCal leadership. Every Los Angeles County Supervisor contacted JVS management to express their concerns and their support for the bargaining unit.

More than a dozen rabbis and over one hundred Jewish community members signed a letter of solidarity with the workers.

Ultimately, JVS SoCal leadership agreed to fair worker compensation. Those of us who have interacted with the JVS staff know how dedicated they are to helping working people rise and prosper. It is only right that an agency with the mission of helping workers will be equitable with its own stellar employees.

So mask up, accept your vaccinations and, when the time is right, check out JVS SoCal’s awesome array of services. And remember them when you are secure enough to make donations again.

Please check out your local union to see how they can help you achieve equity in your own workplace. Remember them for donations, too.


Rabbi Robin Podolsky serves on the Board of Governors for the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din, writes at shondaland.com and jewishjournal.com, advises the Jewish Student Union at Occidental College and serves as writing facilitator and dramaturg for Queerwise, a spoken word and writing group. She also serves on the National Ritual Committee for Bend the Arc.

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