A New Idea To Empower Workers That Employers Actually Support ThinkProgress — Volkswagen new

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A New Idea To Empower Workers Employers Actually Support

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In an effort to unionize a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Auto Workers (UAW) is seeking to create a European-style council. The idea of unions, if is at least familiar to Americans. But councils have yet to formally into the country the way they in Europe. If they were to be here, however, they not only give workers a in power in an era of declining unionization. but could also benefit themselves.

Unlike unions, handle negotiations over and benefits, works councils are a structure that facilitates between workers and management the company’s finances and business as well as perspectives from the floor on how to improve safety and Every VW assembly plant has councils that include representation – except in Tennessee.

Employers see a big benefit. A paper the 1990s by Richard Freeman and Lazear found that councils where management shares information can produce new to problems facing a company, workers’ willingness to communicate management, and push workers to a longer view of company that means they more in their job skills granting concessions that investment. A study in the U.S. of workplace tactics, similar to councils, found that establishments… that promote decision making… have productivity than other nonunion plants.” One example is solar manufacturing facility in where management meets with the union to discuss issues. As David Madland, of the American Worker Project at the for American Progress, wrote of model. it has “improved manufacturing by investing in plant equipment and

Volkswagen itself has a good record: in a statement about the for a works council in its Tennessee, a spokesperson said it “will be on positive experiences in Germany and countries where the Volkswagen is active.”

Workers can expect positive experiences. “One of the key about formalized works is they often require sharing from management” their plans, Madland ThinkProgress. That gives more information and more of a to weigh in. But works councils align closely with workers want in their “They really want a collaborative process where have some power,” he but with unions, they that their employers be antagonistic toward organizing. a works council, workers that their employer and wants something like too.” As Richard Freeman ThinkProgress, “In Europe, workers are favorable in general to their council than they are to union because it’s to them.”

The negotiations in Chattanooga may be over a plant, but if a works council come to the U.S. it could a big impact on all workers. “I think it has potential to spread far and wide in the States,” Madland said. “I can think of an industry where a better and productive discussion workers and management wouldn’t The idea is likely to start multinational companies, such as in Germany and Japan that have works councils in facilities. If it works at VW, it could spread to Mercedes and BMW, and if work there, it could on spreading. “This is just of the way [multinational companies] normally and they see productivity advantages,” added. Plus they even get a boost from labor foes. “Groups the Chamber [of Commerce] or National of Manufacturers have traditionally favorable to this kind of Freeman said. “I would they would help set them up.”

These might not be traditional so labor may be wary – but they can go Legally, to bring a works to a workplace in the U.S. workers likely have to unionize as because otherwise they be seen as management unions, that is against labor And for businesses to really experience the of works councils, they may unions too. That of high-performance practices found they only work unions.

It could also the way people view unions by highlighting the potential for workers and to cooperate. “Unions could to be talked about in a more light as important to a company’s and helping the company, changing the paradigm,” Madland said. UAW as much. In March, the union’s Bob King, said, “We think is an exciting opportunity in working VW, the Volkswagen Works Council and IG to set a new standard in the United States for labor-management relationships that the company, the entire workforce, and the community in general.”

There still may need to be formal protections for workers in councils. If workers speak up management’s plans, management respond by simply firing workers. Labor law already workers who complain to their – unionized or not – but in practice workers have the resources to fight “We may want to have some or company best practices,” suggested.

The experiment may soon out. King told a newspaper earlier this that he expects the union to VW’s Tennessee workers by and that a majority of the plants signed a declaration that want to be represented. If it succeeds, will get its first works

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