Supreme Court Clears Way for New Labor Union Head

Avi Nissenkorn likely to be elected unopposed as Ofer Eini's successor, after court dismisses MK Cabel’s appeal.

Avi Nissenkorn, Histadrut labor federation Chairman Ofer Eini’s designated successor, will be allowed to take over the top union job without a membership-wide election, the Supreme Court ruled on Sunday.

A three-judge panel rejected by a vote of two to one an appeal by Labor Knesset Member Eitan Cabel challenging the way Nissenkorn had been elected chairman of the labor federation after Eini announced last November he was stepping down before his term ended.

Nissenkorn, who now heads the Histadrut’s trade union division, was elected Eini’s successor by the federation’s representative assembly’s 171 members in December, before Cabel mounted a court challenge. Cabel had sought a general election of union members for chairman in a race he planned to join.

The court decision effectively clears the way for Nissenkorn to be formally voted into office, since the majority of the assembly are Eini supporters and no other candidates have emerged to challenge Nissenkorn.

In his appeal, Cabel said the representative assembly did not reflects the views of the Histadrut’s membership. He asserted that some of the 171 representatives were, in fact, Histadrut employees, which created a conflict of interest.

The labor federation maintained that the assembly was representative of union membership and noted that Cabel himself had support Eini’s elections as chairman via the assembly.

Cabel, together with another Labor MK, Miki Rosenthal, lost the suit they filed with Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yona Ettedgui in December, although the judge conditioned going ahead with the vote on a change in the union’s constitution allowing more than one candidate to put his or her name before the representative assembly.

Justices Isaac Amit and Zvi
Zylbertal rejected Cabel’s contention that even with the change ordered by Ettedgui the vote in the assembly was still not democratic. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein supported Cabel’s petition, saying that giving the assembly the option of selecting the chairman effectively emptied the labor federation’s own constitution of any meaning.

Tomer Appelbaum