Schechter management says solution to strike imminent

“We have reached an understanding on most issues and I believe it will all be resolved in the next few days,” VP of development tells 'Post'.

Management at the Jerusalem-based Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies said Wednesday that a solution to end a five week strike by members of the college’s faculty should be reached in the coming days.
Eitan Cooper, vice president of development, told The Jerusalem Post that negotiations held Tuesday between the management and representatives of some 70 striking employees had been productive.
“We have reached an understanding on most issues and I believe it will all be resolved in the next few days,” said Cooper, explaining that cutbacks made to staff salaries over the past year were necessary so the private college could survive in the long-term.
He pointed out that Schechter, which is funded primarily by donations from the Conservative Jewish community in the US and does not receive financial support from the Israeli government, was committed to its student body and continually strives to keep tuition fees as low as possible, despite the fact that it is a private institution.
Last week, President David Golinkin announced that students who had completed 80 percent of their required coursework when the strike was announced in early May would receive a pass grade. He also declared the semester officially over and said striking employees would not receive their salaries through August 1.
In response, the Academic Committee of the Institute said that it might not endorse Golinkin’s intention to automatically pass students. However, Cooper said Wednesday that while management “respects the sovereignty” of the Academic Committee, “on financial issues the President has the authorization to act.”
He said that passing students would avoid a situation whereby tuition fees would have to be reimbursed, which could in turn cause severe financial damage to the institution.
Professor Yossi Turner, Chairman of the Workers Committee and head of the negotiating team for the striking employees, said Wednesday that he was “guardedly optimistic” about reaching a final solution.
“I do believe that we got further yesterday than we have in the past and as long as there are no more surprises we hope to reach an agreement,” he said.
Prior to launching an open ended strike early last month, Schechter employees had been holding on-and-off negotiations with management after their salaries were cut by up to 10 percent last year following the passing of the institutes’ single largest donor, American billionaire William Davidson, and in light of the global economic crisis.
When it was announced last March that the Davidson Foundation had in fact donated half a million dollars to the college, which provides recognized graduate courses in Jewish subjects to more than 600 Israel-based students, the workers were informed their salary reduction would end.
While staff welcomed that move, they also demanded to be reimbursed for the loss incurred during the months of reduced salary and asked that the management accept a communal staff agreement in order to prevent such a situation from occurring again in the future.