Should we unionize?

Subject: Should we unionize?
From: Alexander Von_obert <avobert -at- TWH -dot- MSN -dot- SUB -dot- ORG>
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 19:06:01 LCL

Hello,


* Antwort auf eine Nachricht von William -dot- Hartzer -at- emc2-tao -dot- fisc -dot- com an All am 06

it might not be too helpful, but perhaps someone might be interested in a
German viewpoint:

WW> Should we have a Technical Writer's Union?

Here, this idea is totally out of question: We have a single union for ALL
electronics and metal working industries. We have another for ALL chemical
workers and so on, some 20 unions for all of Germany.

WW> Perhaps if there were a technical writer's union, the Union
WW> could establish
WW> rates and help with medical, dental, and benefits for those
WW> technical writers
WW> who are contract writers.

Over here, all workers of a company can join a single union. This union
negotiates terms with the according employers association. That even means,
that a technical writer would have to change the union, when he/she changes
the job and the new employer is in another field.

For some areas, there are two unions, mostly one from the 19th century workers
movement and one from some christian background. But mostly, these unions
cooperate quite closely.

WW> Having contracted some jobs before, I wish I had had a union to
WW> deal with
WW> rather than having to do all of the negotiating myself when it
WW> came to setting
WW> rates and drawing up contracts.

Over here, there are many laws restricting the terms the employer might want
to settle to. Most employers (especially nearly all bigger ones) are members
of their employers association and therefore use the terms and rates agreed
upon with the unions. You can add a few things, e.g. a few 100 DM of
above-tarif pay, a car payed by the company or something like that. But about
every job has some job description, describing the tarif group it belongs to.

One of the bigger companies that left their employers association is IBM
GmbH here in Germany. Their production facilities still belong to the
metal employers association, but all the white-collar areas left. Most of the
tarif treaties are still valid though, as they time out not before three
years.

WW> help with medical, dental

For a German, this remark is totally off-track: Unless you are self-employed
or quite good earning, you must be a member of a specially regulated health
enshurance. The differences between these enshurances are comparatively minor,
as this area is big politics. What you pay for your health enshurance, depends
on your income (e.g. 14% of your total income). This includes all of your
family members, unless they earn their own money. The benefits of the
enshurance are independent of your income. If you feel that you need more, you
can have a private enshurance that pays the difference to the official
benefit.
These can be comparatively cheap.

I think, your First Lady tried to start something like our system in the US.


As a free-lance technical writer, I remained a member of the health enshurance
I was with when I was employed. If my business goes better, I pay more
(presently about 500 DM (some 350 US-$ a month) and when it goes down a bit, I
pay less. The benefits don't change.


Perhaps, we should not discuss this in more detail in TECHWR-L. But if someone
of you understands some German, I can give him addresses of German unions. I
don't know, whether they have English materials.



Greetings from Germany,
Alexander

--
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