Accepted paper:

Highlighting or Concealing Socialism: Two Opposed Responses of Israeli Unions to Labor Market's Trends

Authors:

Gadi Nissim (Ruppin Academic Center)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a case study of two units in the Histadrut - Israel's main labor organization - the analysis will demonstrate two opposite strategies to face the liquidation of labor: A radical labor movement approach, and a blurred and moderate version of socialism.

Paper long abstract:

Based on the case study of two units of the Histadrut - Israel's largest Labor organization -- this lecture addresses two strategic responses to broad labor market's trends: the entry of new groups of vulnerable laborers and the influence of outsourcing on the workforce. It demonstrates how the Histadrut employs inconsistent strategies due to opposed expectations by different groups it represents. One strategy can be found at the Social Workers Union. Outsourcing of the welfare services generated new precariat of social workers. Disillusioned from their initial expectation to secure their employment and influenced by critical approach endorsed in some academic circles, these social workers formed a new movement that supports radical class-war approach and managed to take over the union leadership. Another strategy was of blurring socialism. The Histadrut's Religious Division represents ultra-orthodox Jewish workers. Historically, these Jews have been striving to dedicate themselves to religious learning and used their political power to receive allowances from the government. However, the economic crisis and the ambition to improve standards of life have been pushing them to join the labor market. The attempt to appeal to those workers led the Histadrut to stress the compatibility of socialist values with Jewish principles, while emphasizing the superiority of Judaism over any secular ideology including socialism. It also promoted compromising approach towards the employers. These opposed cases put under question the Histadrut's ability to engage macro-policy that would increase its wide-ranging political impact.

panel P060
Globalized workers and trade unionism