German Union’s Big Win Shows US Labor the Path Forward

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Reprinted from The Hill by Cathy Feingold on February 12, 2018.

Last week the German metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, arguably one of the world’s most powerful unions, showed that unions have the power to shape their future workplaces.

IG Metall negotiated a precedent-setting collective-bargaining agreement that privileges working conditions over wages. It won its key demand that workers have the right to reduce their working week from 35 to 28 hours for a period of up to two years in order to care for family members.

The union refused an initial offer of a 6.8-percent wage increase in favor of a reduction in work hours and a more modest increase in wages of 4.3 percent. The new agreement establishes a precedent for unions to bargain for working hours over wages and to take an active role in shaping the conditions needed in the current and future workplace. …

The Hill 2/12

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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