Eini Heads for Big Win in Union Vote

Partial tally gives incumbent 62%.

Incumbent Histadrut labor federation Secretary-General Ofer Eini appeared headed to re-election by a comfortable margin, based on last night’s tally from 50,000 of the 200,000 votes cast Tuesday by Histadrut members.

Eini and his “Oganim” ‏(“Anchors”‏) faction had received 62% of the vote, while his opponent, Labor Knesset member Eitan Cabel and his “Bayit Hevrati” ‏(“Social Home”‏), garnered 38% of the partial tally.

Voter turnout was nearly 40%, considered high for a labor organization leadership election.

The polling stations where the vote count was complete were all from residential areas, not places of employment. The counting of ballots at workplace voting stations only began yesterday afternoon and will continue today.

It is expected that the workplace tally will favor Eini even more than the results already reported, and widen his lead over Cabel. When all the ballots are counted, support for Eini is expected to be 70% or even higher. The workers’ committees at places of employment are considered influential in shaping support for the Histadrut leadership and almost all of the workers’ committees around the country supported Eini, at least publicly, in his bid for reelection.

Members of the Na’amat women’s organization, a Histadrut affiliate, appear to be throwing their support to Galia Wallach, leader of Eini’s Oganim faction in the Histadrut women’s movement. Cabel’s Bayit Hevrati faction at Na’amat is headed by Tamar Zandberg.

Once the elections are behind him, Eini is expected to make three tasks his priority: a full agreement with the Finance Ministry and private employers limiting the use of outsourced workers from manpower agencies; preparations to oppose spending cuts expected in the 2013 state budget; and increasing the portion of government bonds with guaranteed interest that are invested in pension funds.

The failure of the Histadrut election committee to report a full vote tally by yesterday sparked an angry response from Cabel’s supporters. Colleagues from Cabel’s headquarters asked how it was possible that the vote for the Knesset is counted within a day, while counting the votes of 200,000 people in the Histadrut elections takes so much longer.

One Cabel associate suggested that it prompted suspicion of an effort by someone to rig the results. The source said Cabel’s campaign is mulling going to court over the handling of the election.

In response, Histadrut legal counsel Yehiel Shamir said the vote tally was delayed for technical reasons. He added that it was hard to imagine that the vote could be rigged since the computer system used in the elections was not in the control of the election committee or of either leadership candidate’s camp.

Histadrut sources said any support Cabel gets beyond 30% of the vote would be considered an accomplishment. They also noted that Cabel could exert influence in the Histadrut, if not as part of Eini’s coalition then from the labor federation’s opposition ranks. They added, however, that Cabel is unlikely to want to work from within the Histadrut as an opposition force for long, and sooner or later would leave the labor federation if the opposition was all that was left to him.