Thursday, February 9, 2012
We have not gotten much use out of our "Labor Contracts" category on this blog, but we've got a big story to report today, about a union really is flexing its muscles. Today's New York Times, reports that the Israeli labor union, the Histadrut, which represents hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, has called a general strike.that started yesterday and has shut down everything from government offices and the stock exchange to hospitals and even the Ben-Gurion national airport.
Ahh, general strikes! Those were the days. The very words are like a madeleine conjuring up images of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht rousing the forces of the Social Democratic and Independent Social Democratic Parties in post-WW I Berlin (see announcement at left). Meanwhile, closer to home, Mitch Daniels has signed legislation making Indiana a "right-to-work" state.
According to the Times, the central issue in the dispute is the government's increasing use of contract workers, whose pay is considerably less than that of Histadrut members. However, as reported here in Ha'aretz, talks are expected to conclude as early today to reach a deal that will end the general strike. The government has apparently agreed to re-classify some of the contract workers as government employees, thus entitling them to higher salaries and benefits. However, that change in status will effect only a few thousand out of approximately 300,000 contract workers.