Betriebsrat und Gesamtbetriebsrat befürworten

Advocating for a factory workers council and a corporation workers council.

Volkswagen’s organizational structure includes the legally-mandatory German committee of workers that is allowed a say in co-managing their workplace: the Betriebsrat. Recently the U.S.’s United Auto Workers union, quietly supported by VW management, tried to “unionize” a factory in Tennessee but was voted down by the workers themselves. U.S. media described it as a vote against union representation, while German media apparently initially reported that the workers had rejected forming a Betriebsrat. They followed up by saying the company had thought unionization was the logical first step for creating a works council at the Chattanooga factory but now they’ll just have to do it another way. “Our employees did not make a decision saying they’re against a Betriebsrat,” plant C.O.O. Frank Fischer reassured German reporters.

Had Chattanooga’s workers voted yes, they would have also gotten a seat on VW’s Gesamtbetriebsrat, apparently a workers’ council for the entire corporation consisting of employees representing VW’s ~105 locations around the world.

Since unionized U.S. auto manufacturing workers were made to seem responsible for the results of inferior car design decisions in the 1970’s, many potential employees appear to not support unions because they fear their own laziness. Fearing your own and others’ laziness seems to be part of the human condition in the U.S. but that fear isn’t as strong in Germany. It’s been interesting to me to see how Germans handle the balance of working hard, <40 hours/week, and then playing hard the rest of the time with a clear conscience, rather than coasting through a twilight lifetime of trying to live at the workplace without sufficient time off.

Süddeutsche.de and Spiegel.de both mentioned that the U.S. has a National Labor Relations Board that must still confirm the plant’s unionization vote and where objections can be filed. U.S. reporting mentioned that U.S. senators are protected under “freedom of opinion” from being sued for spreading disinformation.

(Bet REEBZ rott   oont   gez OMT bet REEBZ rott   beh FIR wort en.)

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