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Well, the unions oppose it and don't see a general minimum wage.

You have to remember that you just have to find a union for a collective bargain treaty. What kind of union isn't specified and some small fake union, especially "christian" union will do. So yes, there have been until now and probably will in the future "unions", who will do any collective bargaining deal the employers want. Including below general minimum wages.

The mainstream will let the old treaties slide, but we don't know about the others.  

by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 05:14:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What? Unions don't have to "be representative" of the workers in order to negotiate in their name?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 06:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Technically, in Germany, unions always negotiate only for their members. And the employers can freely choose with whom and if at all they negotiate.

Now de facto unions tend to have a unionization grade of 30% or higher in the firm or the sector and so can force the employers to negotiate. The employers then pay everybody according to the treaty, sometimes because the individual contracts are linked to collective contracts, sometimes because paying non union members less would be an encitement to join the union.

But especially in sectors or firms were unions are weak, small, almost virtual unions can make treaties too. In the individual treaties where is then a clause: pay according to collective treaty with christian union x. And you can claim to have a collective treaty. And you could use such a treaty with a pliant union  to ward off a general minimum wage.

Or "union" and employers could even try to make the declaratory treaty mandatory in their sector. Mandatory treaties mostly exist in sectors were unions and employers associations are weak anyway.

Now anywhere were real unions exist, they could just go on strike. But in the many, especially service, sectors were real unions are weak, they are not able to go on strike.

There is one remedy: The courts. (It is Germany after all). Real unions can go to court an declare their unions non-union. If they are to weak to plausibly conduct collective bargaining, they should be declared non-unions, always in a particular sector. The unions succeeded with such a suit in the lend-labour sector recently.

But that needs years and even if the real union succeeds, in the meantime a new fake union has popped up.          

by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 06:47:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The German economic model is a wonder. We should all adopt it immediately without reservation.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 06:51:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The german labour law - especially collective bargaining law - tends to work generally.

It depends on unions strong enough to threaten a strike, that much is true.

The weakening of unions tend to show the flaws not visible with stronger unions.

That is also the reason that the weaker unions first supported a state minimum wage: the stronger unions could still pretend that in their sector everything is well.

That said I think in the end all collective bargaining rests on the ability of the unions to go on strike.  

by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:07:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain there are worker councils at firms, and periodic "union elections". A "fake union" could not win representation at a firm's workers' council if there were a "real" union, ability to strike or not. And an industry sector wouldn't be able to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with a union that isn't broadly represented in the sectoral workers' councils.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:09:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could change the labor laws and then they would have to on strike anyway. Like they just do.

And in germany the employees councils can do a lot, but very much not negotiate about wages - unions only. (And this does actually go back to beginning of the twenties, like a lot of german labour laws)

by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is, how can a union that fails to win election to the workers' council (only reasonable definition of "fake" union) negotiate a binding collective bargaining agreement?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see:

a) There is collective bargaining agreement

b) Genuine unions are to weak to force one

c) The employer or a employers association seeks themselves a union and negotiate a agreement

d) In the individual agreements with employees a new clause incorporating the collective agreement is inserted

(It is probably a high fluctuations sector anyway or you can use move the employees to sign new treaties - no union they can complain too)

e) The individual agreement makes the collective agreement legally binding (It would be binding for union members of the contracting union anyway, but we assume few exists)

I can't use "contract"?

by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:31:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In French they say convention. But I think the right English word is agreement.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain it's convenio (colectivo) which is probably best translated into English legalese as covenant.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 08:31:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think contract pertains to an individual worker. So, a worker will have an employment contract which must be drawn in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining agreement, and other statutes.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 08:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A union can negotiate with every employer even if they have only one member working there. The union needn't be elected to do so: they just represent their members.

Fake unions play a role in temporary work: These slave traders must pay the same wage as the company where the slaves actually work IF THEY DON'T HAVE AN AGREEMENT OF THEIR OWN. So they have fake agreements with fake unions. They get away with it, because so few temp workers are organised in real unions

Worker councils are elected in the companies, but they don't do bargaining and they are banned by law from calling to strike.

by Katrin on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could change the labor laws and then they would have to on strike anyway. Like they just do.

Bingo.

A strike fund and organisation percentage large enough to support participation in a one-month general strike seems like a good benchmark to aim for.

Not that you will ever actually want to do a one-month general strike. But you have to be able to, for the same reason you have to be able to impose hard currency rationing and price controls, even if you don't ever want to actually do it.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 10:01:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In German companies there are worker councils too, but they have nothing to do with collective bargaining and strikes. They are elected by all employees, not the union members.

German unions and labour laws worked quite well as long as unemployment was low and slave temporary work was banned. When temporary work was introduced our stupid unions disdainfully refused to have anything to do with it. So now we have "core staff", well paid and organised in unions and temporary workers who get paid much less and who are organised in Verdi (the ones who supported a minimum wage fairly early), but organising them is very difficult and there are the fake unions IM mentioned.  

by Katrin on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:27:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
now we have "core staff", well paid and organised in unions and temporary workers who get paid much less

You have the same "dual labour market" that we're told is the source of all our problems in the periphery?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 08:26:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. I've been told that it is the flexibility that cures all problems, though.

There are a few specialised companies though who pay well and who have no interest at all in flexibility of their well trained employees. In all other sectors of the economy precarious employment is becoming the rule as older employees reach pension age. There won't be much of a "dual labour market" soon.

by Katrin on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 08:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be "agreements" in English not "treaties".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 06:53:58 AM EST
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Treaty is never used outside state relationships? Can I use pact? Deal is to informal for legally binding agreements?
by IM on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Collective bargaining agreement" is a set phrase. You can say "a collective bargaining agreement is a pact/treaty/deal/whatever".

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:11:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Pact" is the sort of word newspapers use when they're used "agreement" too many times in a paragraph. Agreement is idiomatic, and in context will be expected to be in some way binding.

Sorry, I almost never correct usage like that.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 09:36:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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