“EMPLOYEES OF U.S. SUBSIDIARIES OF GERMAN COMPANIES, ESPECIALLY T-MOBILE USA, SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXERCISE THEIR UNRESTRICTED RIGHT TO OPT FOR ORGANIZED REPRESENTATION IN THE COMPANY WITHOUT FEAR.”
In an ad in the NY Times yesterday, 11 leading German legal scholars and politicians called on Deutsche Telekom and other German companies to stop using American-style union-hating tactics at their American subsidiaries. In particular they asked these companies to “end all collaboration with U.S. consultants who advise employers how to fight employee representation.”
What is remarkable about this letter is the difference between European and American attitudes toward working people and labor rights. In Europe it’s just a given that working people have dignity and respect. To Europeans it is shocking to see a company try to fight against its own workers! In the US working people face an atmosphere of constant intimidation, always pushing for lower wages, cuts in benefits, longer working hours, and subservience.
The letter speaks for itself, please read it: (click for original)
To T-MOBILE USA and Other U.S. Subsidiaries of German Companies
AN OPEN LETTER ON WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Globalization and the current crisis present particular challenges for the economy. Germany’s social market policy faces these challenges with its commitment to stakeholder values including employees and its responsibility towards the community. The respect for the interests of different players has already proven to be beneficial in previous periods of change. Essential elements of this approach are respectful cooperation and a balance of the differing interests of employees and employers. Since employees are in a structurally weaker position compared to employers, the freedom of association and freedom of opinion as human rights are especially vital.
The signatories urge that the employees of U.S. subsidiaries of German companies, especially T-Mobile USA, should be able to exercise their unrestricted right to opt for organized representation in the company without fear. They must not be influenced, pressured, or intimidated by employers if they exercise their basic right for freedom of association. The human right of freedom of speech notably entails this right as well.
Even in the Federal Republic of Germany there are shortsighted employers and lawyers who believe they can get away with a lack of integrity and respect toward unions and work councils and who think they can forgo cooperation. Practical experiences and scientific studies show, however, that employer conduct based on this model will ultimately be harmful to the company.
We encourage T-Mobile USA and the other U.S. subsidiaries of German companies to take these experiences to heart and to abandon all efforts at union avoidance. Likewise, we ask them to end all collaboration with U.S. consultants who advise employers how to fight employee representation.
Däubler-Gmelin, Prof. Dr. Herta, former Federal Minister of Justice, attorney, Berlin
Baum, Gerhart R., former Minister of the Interior, attorney, Düsseldorf
Müntefering, Franz, former Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, German MP, Berlin
Schmoldt, Hubertus, former Chairman of the Labor Union IG Mining, Chemical and Energy
Hensche, Detlef, former Chairman of the Labor Union IG Media, attorney, Berlin
Merzhäuser, Michael, attorney, Berlin
Dieterich, Prof. Dr. Thomas, former President of the Federal Labor Court and former Judge of the Federal Constitutional Court, Kassel
Blüm, Dr. Norbert, former Federal Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, Bonn
Struck, Dr. Peter, former Federal Minister of Defense, President of Friedrich – Ebert – Foundation, Berlin
Däubler, Prof. Dr. jur. Wolfgang, university professor (labor law, business law, international law), Bremen
Schwegler, Dr. Lorenz, former Chairman of the Union for Trade, Banking and Insurance Carriers, attorney, Düsseldorf
Learn more at www.WeWorkBetterTogether.org
Did you see that last line? Learn more at www.WeWorkBetterTogether.org
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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