On May 22nd we will witness elections of some importance to the future of Israel. No, it is not the general elections yet, but the elections for the chairman of the Histadrut, the largest governing body of worker unions in Israel.
Israel does not have a high percentage of workers organized under unions relatively to other western countries and the Histadrut represent around 30% of the employees in Israel (more than the AFL-CIO but less than most of the European countries). Nevertheless, the Histadrut is an important body in protecting the rights of workers in Israel, and its agreements and strikes influence the majority of Israelis. Historically connected to Mapai (today’s Avoda party-labor movement) both bodies seem like they had lost their way in the past 10-15 years.
The chairman of the Histadrut for the past six years is Ofer Eini. Eini has been criticized for running a corrupt system, for not standing up for the weakest workers in Israel and for not being a part of the fight for social causes in Israel.
The Histadrut for many years was a leader in social battles, it was the strongest opposition to the government when promoting unjust policies. But in the past several years it has not been the case.
On may 22nd Knesset member Eitan Cabel will try to challenge Ofer Eini and become the new chairman of the Histadrut.
I must say I’ve worked with MK Cabel before, he is a honest & likeable man. I believe he will be a good chairman of the Histadrut who had seem to have lost its way in the past several years, fighting mostly for strong unions. Unfortunately I think his chances of winning are slim do to the short time left until election day and do to the hold of the current chairman over the biggest unions. Saying that, if a well crafted plan is put forward, Cabel might have a chance for a surprise.
From what I’m seeing at the moment, I don’t understand Cabel’s campaign. The signs made by Cabel’s campaign say: “he who believes, is not afraid”. I don’t know what the campaign is trying to say besides the mentioning of a nice song title by the popular singer Eyal Golan.
So I would like to use this next lines to offer a strategy to MK Cabel that might actually work.
First you need to identify the weakness of your opponent and play on it. Ofer Eini is a friend of the industrialists. The employers. Eini made a pact with the industrialists organization and its head Shraga Brosh. The two had agreed to bring any conflict to discussion between them and promote a joint resolution. I’m sure you can see the problem here, when the person representing workers is coordinating with the representative of the the private employers.
Cabel’s only chance is to plant doubt in the minds of workers & union leaders that Eini does not represent their best interests. He should use one simple repetitive message (do to the short time for this campaign). It should be something like: “the leader of the workers is coordinating with the employers. Is that good for the workers?”. This message with support of relevant quotes from the media, along with stats & info about prior decisions that don’t serve the workers is most likely the best practice.
The campaign should not use the attack line of “corruption”, as in union world, receiving something for your support is not perceived as inappropriate.
Another thing Cabel should be ready for is an attack from Eini saying that Cabel and his people are “Communists”. “To far left to represent the employees”. I’m sure this attack line will be used if Eini feels threatened.
There are several other points that needs addressing, but those are the main ones.
Why am I writing this? Because I believe Israel needs a strong Histadrut. I don’t really care who sits at the top of the organization as long as he/she serves the working public. A strong Histadrut can help lead the battles for social justice in Israel, it can mobilize workers, it can declare strikes, it can “stop the country” when needed. And Israelis need a strong entity such as the Histadrut to protect them from bad policy decisions, from arbitrary moves of employers and from social injustice.