The situation of the trade unions

The ailing DGB celebrates its 50th anniversary. Anniversary and hopes for the future of solidarity

"Turbulent times" The DGB proclaims that it was the 50th. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its founding, which took place on. October 1949 in Munich. The "The future of solidarity" is what the DGB wants to see in the "Elbow Society" The future of the trade unions in Germany and elsewhere looks bleak, however, because membership is declining everywhere in the wake of globalization and the implementation of the new economy. Unions are having a particularly hard time in the new IT technology sectors.

The situation of the unions

The situation is even more dramatic in the U.S., which is why the largest American union, the AFL-CIO, is holding a meeting to discuss how to proceed in the future. A program has already been decided to network members through favorable offers and their own portals, which it is hoped will not only lead to better organization, but also make employees in the IT industry more likely to leave the union.

But all in all, with the exception of the Communications Workers of America union, which has gained a foothold in the high-tech sector with 600,000 members, the situation looks bleak. In 1955, the heyday of unions and the industrial society, one in three workers, or 35 percent, were union members; today, only one in seven, or 13.9 percent, are union members. 90 percent of AFL-CIO members are in only 8 of the 15 industries, and the union can attract only one member out of every 20 new jobs created. That is now only a share of 5 percent. At least AFL-CIO President John Sweeney believes the trend may be starting to reverse. Last year 100000 and this year already 200000 new members could be won. Nevertheless, David Chu of the AFL-CIO’s Center for Strategic Research fears that the economy is moving away from unions. Most of the economically booming cities have the lowest concentration of unionized workers, while the old industries on which unions once staked their claim are increasingly disappearing. Whether new advertising campaigns or a further centralization of the union federation will be of much use seems questionable, especially since with the new economy the number of permanent employees is also declining and that of "self-reliant" working people is increasing.

At the start of the DGB anniversary celebration, DGB Chairman Dieter Schulte said he hoped for an end to the decline of the unions. Between 1991 and 1998 alone, the unions lost almost three million members: "The strong trend toward waiting has stopped. The loss of members is slowing down considerably. " This sounds similar to the SPD after the elections in Berlin. He was self-critical in admitting that they had failed to recruit new members and had not paid enough attention to certain groups of employees and future industries. If you then consider the new demands of the IG.The fact that the metalworking industry is calling for the introduction of a 30-hour week with full wage compensation and a 10 percent reduction in the annual working week, with public funds only going to companies with a works council, is not a sign of a new beginning, but only of vested interests that will further accelerate the decline. The DGB does not seem to be very open-minded about the Internet either. To celebrate the anniversary of 11. up to 13. October in Munich you can find on the website just a press release. Maybe an action like the one of the American colleagues would be good for the DGB. Also such offers are good advertisement.

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