Adler Will Try to Mend Fences

The National Labor Court and its regional counterparts see their task as different than that of the regular courts. The courts decide cases where a worker sues an employer, or vice versa, but also actively seek solutions to conflicts between both parties. Among the entourage appearing in every case before the Labor Court are two officials: one to represent the workers and another for the employers. They are there to help judges come to a ruling that goes beyond a dry decision between the two sides; ideally, the judgment considers the institution's future of labor relations.

National Labor Court President Steve Adler has promoted the judge's function of mediator in calming labor conflicts on a number of occasions. When the Histadrut labor federation was about to announce a general strike, Adler didn't hesitate to meet with union representatives, employers and the government for a marathon session in his office. He didn't let up until it seemed a solution was forthcoming.

The same was true in the salary crisis in the local authorities: Adler saw to it that workers received their salaries on time. He met with partial success, but he did not give up.

There is some logic in this approach: treatment of labor conflicts, especially those involving large worker groups, in this case the high school teachers, is different from criminal cases. In labor conflicts, neither side is 100 percent to blame for the crisis. Moreover, the parties do not part ways, but must continue to work together; in this case, the Secondary School Teachers Association and the education and finance ministries.

How does the Labor Court ensure continued cooperation? By ruling on the one hand that teachers must start the school year, and on the other that the parties must enter negotiations and report back in one week. Thus, in the present conflict, the Labor Court, especially under Adler, will not rest in its efforts to bring about compromise.