Skip To Content

ORT America Accused In Labor Battle

The American branch of ORT, the massive international vocational-training organization, is being accused by its employees of union busting and of negotiating in bad faith.

Union members said that their main complaint is a so-called “management rights” provision that would allow ORT America to fire union employees without a grievance procedure and to replace them with nonunion workers. They also protest that ORT America’s management is insisting that, under the new contract, employees take a personal, vacation or sick day for Jewish holidays when the office is closed, even if they are not Jewish.

ORT America defended its position.

“ORT America feels that it has negotiated in good faith and made a fair final offer to the union, an offer that is fair to the employees as well as our fiduciary responsibilities to ORT America,”” ORT America spokeswoman Sarina Roffé said.

Roffé said that the sides had agreed to a June mediation, but ORT employee Victoria Mitchell, president of the union’s district council, said that no date had been set and that ORT America’s lawyer maintained that the organization would not change its offer.

“We have been trying to negotiate in good faith with ORT America,” Mitchell said. “Management wanted to boycott and destroy the union by putting in this management-rights clause that doesn’t give the union any leeway to negotiate.”

ORT employees are members of the DC 1707 branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The local union was originally founded in 1932 by Jewish communal employees as the Association of Federation Workers.

The workers are planning a demonstration outside ORT’s downtown Manhattan offices for Friday, May 30. Mitchell said that regardless of how the negotiations progress, she would not call for a strike or any action that would harm ORT America’s mission.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.