Hebrew U and Humanities junior faculty reach settlement

The settlement, initiated by the Jerusalem Labor Court, will continue the employment of 15 junior faculty members.

Hebrew U 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of the Hebrew University)
Hebrew U 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Hebrew University)
The Non-Tenured Research and Academic Staff Union at the Hebrew University announced on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the institution regarding the layoff of some 80 junior members of the Faculty of the Humanities, which was announced by HU earlier this summer.
The settlement, which came after long negotiations between the union and HU management, was initiated by the Jerusalem Labor Court and states that the university will continue to employ 15 among the junior faculty members whom the institution had planned to lay off.
The Union petitioned the Jerusalem Labor Court to prevent the dismissals in late July after HU had announced it would cut some 100 courses off the humanities program due to low student registration.
Prof. Reuven Amitai, the faculty dean, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the decision to cancel courses had been on the radar for several months and that teachers have been aware of the possibility since May.
“We’re facing budgetary problems and need to deal with the overdraft situation here at the faculty,” he explained, “The other thing is that we have too many courses; it is a faculty of 190 professors, a couple of hundred external teachers and over 1,100 courses, which we are proud of, but we can only allow ourselves so many.”
The university had also issued a statement on the issue, saying that the institution offers “more electives in the humanities than any other academic institution in the country.
“As part of its normal work processes, the university regularly streamlines some of its activities, including reducing, where possible, very poorly attended elective courses while at the same time maintaining a high academic level.”
According to the agreement, no other courses will be canceled on the basis of low registration, and the university will be obligated to involve the union in similar decision making in future.
Eyal Elyashiv, the union’s chief negotiator, said they were “pleased with the judge’s decision that the university could not make any further unilateral moves.”
“We were very disappointed with the university throughout the process, and we urge [university president] Prof. [Menahem] Ben-Sasson to find a way to save dozens of faculty members who are about to lose their livelihood, let alone during the holidays and on the eve of the academic year,” Elyashiv said in a statement.
“We continue to work in order to promote the burning issues that concern our members, and we hope that the university’s administration decides to begin negotiations in good faith and complete honesty,” he added.