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Schechter Institute employees return to work

June 27, 2011 | 11:09 am

Employees at the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem returned to work following a seven-week walkout.

A settlement between the institute’s management and workers was ratified at a general meeting of the workers and signed last Friday. The employees returned to work two days later, the institute told JTA on Sunday.

The institute’s summer semester will open as scheduled on July 3.

Students, who according to the Institute had completed about 80 percent of their coursework when the strike was declared, on Sunday were offered two options to complete the semester: the completion of academic assignments that will enable them to receive a grade, or an automatic “pass” grade. A pass grade confers full credit and is not figured into the students’ grade point average.

The Workers’ Committee, a chapter of the Koach Laovdim-Democratic Workers’ Organization union with about 70 employees—about half of Schechter’s staff—launched the strike after salary negotiations broke down over their request for the reimbursement of several months of a salary reduction instituted in July 2009 due to financial difficulties at the Schechter graduate school.

The global financial crisis and the death of a major donor, whose annual contribution covered about 15 percent of the institution’s budget, spurred the fiscal woes.

Workers of the TALI Education Fund and Midreshet Yerushalayim, located on the Schechter campus, did not join the strike.

Most workers during the salary reduction took pay cuts of 5 percent to 7 percent, with management taking cuts of 10 percent to 12 percent.

The institute receives no government funding; 70 percent of its operating budget comes from donations.

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies offers a master’s degree in Jewish studies designed for Israeli teachers, and sponsors centers and research institutes of applied Jewish studies. It is also home to the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.

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