“Organizing is the beating heart of safeguarding and advancing workers’ rights. The workers aspiration to awake every morning to a better workplace requires trade union organizing. Only together can we create the balance of power required against employers that usually only see the margins of profit. Organizing is the growth engine of the Histadrut, and organized labour, with every group of workers declaring their will to change their future.”Avi Edri – Chairman of the Organizing Division and Chairman of the Transport Union
Freedom of association exists both for employees (the freedom to establish a workers’ organization and to join or not to join a workers’ organization), and for employers (the freedom to establish an employers’ organization).
Freedom of association, in the field of labor relations, expresses two freedoms granted to workers in Israel:
- The freedom of the employee to join a workers’ organization according to his will, to establish a workers’ organization together with others, and on the other hand – an employee’s right not to join a workers’ organization.
- The freedom to establish a workers ‘organization (and for employers – the freedom to establish an employer’s organization) without requiring a permit from the authorities.
- The freedom to form an association (in a workers ‘committee and in a workers’ organization) is set forth in section 33H of the Collective Agreements Law.
- In accordance with the rulings on the subject, freedom of association also includes the employer’s obligation to conduct collective bargaining with its employees who are members of a workers’ organization and the right of employees to conduct labor disputes.
The State of Israel has ratified two International Labour Conventions dealing with freedom of association:
The convention on freedom of association and the protection of the right to organize (Convention No. 87 of 1948).
The Convention on the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining (Convention No. 98 of 1949).
In 2019 an OECD report stated that organized work is important for economic growth. According to the report, countries with strong organized labour are coping better with changes and economic shocks. Findings collected from 36 countries prove, that organized labour helps reduce inequality, reduce wage disparities and strengthen labor productivity in the economy.
9 Stages of Histadrut Organizing
- Step One: The Phone Call You’ve decided to organize? It all starts with a phone call to the Histadrut.
- Step Two: Familiarity with the staff of the Organization Division. At this stage, you will get to know the staff of the Organization Division and the professionals who will accompany you and be there by your side all the way. The process of organizing seems complex at first, but you are in the best hands there are. The staff of the Organizing Division have accompanied hundreds of unions, both small and large, and helped tens of thousands of workers exercise their right to organize, maintain their job security and improve their wages and employment conditions. During the meeting, we will gather all the information that may help us in building the organizing process, such as: Is the company you work for private or public, what is the size of the company, the number of employees, whether the company is in a single location or spread across the country, and more. Together with the staff, you will go through the following steps and leave the meeting with a deeper understanding of the expected stations, approximate schedule, and homework for the next meeting.
- Step Three: Homework In addition to completing the information gaps needed to map the organizing process, most of the homework will focus on harnessing additional colleagues who will be willing to join you and lead the move together, while understanding its importance. The goal, as stated, is to form a core of committed people who can be trusted, who will be willing to take an active and leading part in the unionization.
- Step Four: Planning the process of organizing Once a strong and cohesive group is formed whose members represent, as far as possible, the various sectors of the company’s employees – you will be defined as the action committee leading the process of organizing in the Histadrut. At this point, while we are still working under the radar, we will meet together to discuss strategy, refine the messages and plan the critical stage where your idea begins to become a reality. How to behave properly on social networks? How do you explain the move to employees? What is the correct conduct towards the employer? At this point, many questions are answered for you to feel ready for the next stage, and it is the public exposure.
- Step Five: Go out for signings After careful planning of the move and finishing the work behind the scenes, it is time for the organization to rise to the visible stage. The action committee sets out to have the company’s employees sign Histadrut membership forms. The goal is that as many employees as possible who understand the many benefits of joining will actually join the move.
- Step Six: Strengthen the Grassroots At this stage, most of the efforts will be invested in strengthening your organizational strength and adding additional employees whom you may not have had time to reach since the starting point. Your presence on the ground and the informative conversations that will take place for the undecided workers will help dispel their concerns and will be a vital reinforcement for the change that you seek to lead in the company.
- Step Seven 7: Recognition of an association After at least a third of the employees have signed the joining forms, the Histadrut will become the representative organization at your workplace and will contact the employer demanding to recognize the organization legally and arrange the first meeting to open negotiations to solidify workers’ rights in a collective agreement. Alternately, and as long as the employer refuses to recognize the unionization, you can, with the assistance of the Histadrut, use various organizational and legal measures to bring about the recognition of the organization and ensure that the employer does comply with the requirements of the law.
- Step Eight: Preparing for Negotiations Recognizing a representative organization is a significant step, but it is only the beginning. Now you have the task of negotiating. In this context, and when the Histadrut’s power backs you, you will sit at the negotiating table with the company’s management and be partners in the formulation of a first collective agreement. This agreement takes care of regulating workers’ rights and employment security. For this important task, you must arrive prepared so at this stage we will review the conditions you want to change and improve. To this end, we will be assisted by the professional headquarters units in the Histadrut, which specialize in labor relations, legal contracts, and economics.
- Step Nine: Starting Negotiations After extensive preparatory work for negotiations and mapping out the prerequisites, you sit down at the negotiating table when you know what you want to achieve. Besides you, there is a team of the best professionals that includes top consultants in a variety of fields who will help you translate your gut feelings and requirements into numbers and legal clauses. The Histadrut’s Economics Division staff will assist you in pricing the offer you will receive from the management while examining in-depth whether this is indeed an improvement in relation to what you are receiving today and whether you can achieve something better. Similarly, the Legal Bureau of the Trade Union Division staff will put at your service lawyers, experts in labor relations, who will know how to direct you to the goal and ensure that the agreements reached between the parties preserve improve workers’ rights. It is important to emphasize again that along the way, the members of the Organization Division are there to strengthen your organizational strength and maintain your strength, cohesive and united.