The campaign against the Conservative Movement’s new tzedek hechsher, a supervision that would attempt to ensure workers employed by companies getting kosher supervision from others are fairly treated, has begun in ernest. First, we had the Kosher Today smear of the Conservative Movement’s point man on this issue, Rabbi Morris Allen. Now Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum (affectionately known to several commenters on this site as "Gershon the Swindler"), the COO of Igud HaRabbonim (the so-called Rabbinical Alliance of America) has jumped in, using his Jewish Press column to threaten kosher food manufacturers who may be thinking of using the new tzedek hechsher:
In December 2006, a call came from outside the sphere of Orthodox kosher certifiers for a tsedek heckscher or justice certification that would ensure that kosher food producers “have met a set of standards that determine the social responsibility of kosher food producers, particularly in the area of worker rights.”
The Orthodox Union issued a statement that labor issues were a matter for federal and local regulators, not kosher authorities. Rabbi Genack was reported as applauding the call to look at labor issues, given the weight of Jewish law dedicated to that topic. However, Rabbi Genack stressed that the effort cannot be allowed to blur the line between Jewish law regarding worker rights and Jewish law regarding the kosher standard of food.
On January 2, the Hisachdus Horabbonim issued a kol koreh proclamation condemning any efforts to dilute or becloud kosher supervision standards, nor to allow any other supervision standards to be applied to kosher certification halachahs. The proclamation was signed by three members of its Kashrus Beth Din: Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel Bick, Mezebusher Rav; Rabbi Hillel Weinberger, Serdehaly Rav; and Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Menachem Eichenstein, Galante Rebbe.
The Hisachdus kol koreh called upon all observant Jews to reject the introduction of any type of tsedek heckscher, something never previously heard of. The Hisachdus views the suggestion as an attempt by those outside the observant community to infiltrate and dilute the existing framework of kashrus certifications. Rabbi Yitzchok Yechiel Glick, rav of Khal Beis Avrohom and executive director of the Hisachdus, stressed that any injection of social or humanitarian considerations, especially by outsiders, would be an unallowable breach of the time honored halachic administration of kashrus standards.
Every kosher food producer must repulse any attempts of introducing such alien impositions. Tolerating such infringement would be a first step in destroying halachic kashrus standards. The kol koreh calls upon kosher food producers as well as kashrus certifiers to maintain vigilance against any effort to pierce protective barriers now in place.
The universally highly-regarded HaEdah HaCharedis Kashrus Beis Din in Jerusalem as well as Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, author of Shevet Levi and leading posek, have been alerted to the suspicious machinations of those attempting to impose the so-called hekhsher tzedek.…
Note these haredim use the old haredi argument – everything new is prohibitied – to come out against enforcing the Torah’s mandates on treatment of workers.
I suspect the next move will be for various supervisors to refuse to have their supervison mark appear with that of the tzedek hechsher. This will put tremendous pressure on manufacturers and will force many to avoid using the tzedek hechsher, which is, of course, what the haredim want, even if the motives behind the new hechsher are pure.