New York (May. 17)
– Some 500 professional and clerical employes who went on strike last Friday against the State of Israel Bonds continued their strike action today. Picket lines have been set up outside the Israel Bond Organization headquarters here and at 7 regional Bond offices across the country.
Dozens of Israel Bond functions throughout the country, including nine in New York City, were picketed this weekend, according to a spokesman for the Community and Social Employes Union, Local 107, District 1707, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employes. A spokesman for the Israel Bond office said that the national office here and the 70 regional offices were being staffed by executive personnel and open for business as usual.
The strike began after contract talks broke down between the Bond Organization and the union. The current contract expired at midnight last Thursday. Negotiations were scheduled to resume this afternoon.
Richard Morton, executive director of District Council 1707, said the strike was “forced by the corporation’s insistence that the union agree to substanial reductions in its existing health insurance benefits, lower salary increases than in the past two contracts and a change in the payment schedule which would reduce these increments even further — all as a pre-condition to its making a final wage offer.”
Morton said “these unreasonable, objectionable and ultimately impossible demands places the responsibility for the strike directly upon the corporation. As a result, the corporation must bear the same responsibility for the economic hardships it is now imposing upon the people of Israel, who are the direct beneficiaries of the investment capital” of Israel Bond funds.
ISRAEL BOND VIEWPOINT
Yitzhak Rager, president of the Israel Bond Organization, said the union had made demands for increases in wages and benefits “which are impssible for the Bond Organization to meet without placing an additional heavy financial burden on Israel at this critical time when it faces the danger of war.”
He asserted that the striking employes “now enjoy salaries, cost of living increases, vacations and pensions that compare very favorably with prevailing levels in this field or industry generally.” Rager said that acceptance of the union’s demands “would make it uneconomical for Israel to continue the sale of bonds in the future. It is our responsibility to see to it that this needless strike should not interrupt or reduce the flow of Bond dollars into Israel’s economy.”
In his statement, Morton asserted that the Israel Bond organization cash receipts in 1980 were nearly $422 million, which he called the highest total in the Israel Bonds Organization’s 30-year history, with the exception of the Yom Kippur War year of 1973. He also asserted that those figures “unquestionably refute the corporation’s contention that it is not in a suitable financial position to make a fair and reasonable wage offer that our members can accept with dignity.”
Morton noted that the union was aware of Israel’s “difficult international situation” and that the union was ready to resume contract talks at “any hour of the day or night.”