Who are we?

Koach LaOvdim is a Socialist Labor union and the most democratic labor union in Israel. It serves as a general union representing approximately 30,000 employees across various economic sectors, including daycare and afterschool program workers, bus drivers, college lecturers, teachers for youth at risk, counselors, social workers employed by privatized social services, and municipal organization employees.

Established in 2007 amidst a decline in Israeli organized labor, Koach LaOvdim arose in response to the significant drop in union participation, which plummeted from 80% in the 1980s to less than a quarter of all employees by the 1990s. This decline coincided with widespread privatization and defunding of the state’s welfare system, resulting in increased poverty, socioeconomic disparity, diminished social resilience, and political instability, particularly impacting Israel’s underprivileged populations.

Koach LaOvdim was founded to provide an alternative to the non-democratic union tradition in Israel, aiming to reorganize privatized workers and advance workers’ power, equality, solidarity, and grassroots democracy. Since its inception, Koach LaOvdim has revitalized organized labor in Israel, reversing the downward trend and bolstering the number of unionized workers, thereby reshaping the Israeli labor market and labor relations landscape.

Koach LaOvdim distinguishes itself as a groundbreaking organization in several ways:

The Most Democratic Union in Israel: Inspired by European workers’ organizations, Koach LaOvdim makes significant decisions, including finalizing collective agreements, through democratic voting by rank and file members. Workers actively participate in shaping employment relations at their workplaces, electing and possessing the power to remove organization leadership, and influencing its character and policies.

Cooperation and Solidarity Among Different Ethnic Groups: Many of Koach LaOvdim’s unions comprise Jewish, Arab, religious, and secular members with shared leadership. The organization strives to transcend internal ethnic tensions within Israeli society, emphasizing the construction of diverse leadership, solidarity, and democracy to foster strong partnerships and joint actions among individuals from various ethnic backgrounds, rooted in a working-class identity.

Social Movement Unionizing: Koach LaOvdim employs grassroots organizing strategies to strengthen social ties and solidarity among workers, promoting collaborative action and democratic practices.

Campaigns for Better Social Services and a Universal Welfare System: Leveraging its longstanding experience in unionizing workers in privatized social services, Koach LaOvdim advocates for improved social services and the establishment of a universal welfare system covering all Israeli inhabitants.

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