Representatives of IBB took part in the meeting for the first time. They have meanwhile joined the “Letter of Understanding”, that has been agreed on between Siemens in the US and the five unions IBEW, IUE-CWA, USW, UAW and IAM in 2016 and that targets the exclusion of union busting by the company management.
Harald Kern (employee representative on the Siemens Supervisory Board and President of the European Works Council of Siemens) explained the German system of employee representation including the representation of the union representatives on the Supervisory Boards in Germany and the role of the unions resp. the “Works Councils”. He also mentioned the decision of the management to carve out the Large Drives unit under the name “Innomotics” and commented it critically.
He informed about the next meeting of the European Works Council, which will specifically deal with the Siemens platform “Xcelerator”.
In his general remarks, he described the pressure from the financial markets and the Siemens shareholders on the company, who demand even more sell-offs of parts of Siemens to maximize the shareholder value of the company.
Bettina Haller (employee representative on the Supervisory Boards of Siemens and Siemens Mobility and President of the Group Works Council of Siemens) reported, that, although the business figures of Siemens Mobility are well, the management still regards the profit as too low. She expressed her hope, that there will be a union representation at the Siemens Mobility plant in California in the future.
Siemens Mobility will soon open a new factory in North Carolina. Bettina also touched the issue of union busting at the subsidiary company of Siemens Mobility, RailTerm, in Vermont. The union representatives from Germany will support the concerned employees and their union, SMART.
Nadine Florian (employee representative on the Supervisory Board of Siemens Energy and President of the European Works Council of Siemens Energy) explained the main changes, that will come with the complete integration of Siemens-Gamesa (Wind Power) into Siemens Energy. She also pointed out, that there are ongoing negotiations on a Global Framework Agreement (GFA) for Siemens Energy.
The union representatives have addressed the topic of the existing supplement agreement for the US, which is existing at Siemens, and want to include it in the new GFA. She also gave some information on the work of the European Works Council.
Mr. Cseplo (People & Organisation Siemens USA) gave some information on the business and employee figures of Siemens in the US.
He mentioned the expansion of the locations in Grand Prairie (Texas) and Pomona (California) (both belong to Siemens Smart Infrastructure) and Walpole (Massachusetts) (Siemens Healthineers).
Erica Fein and Abigail Campbell from the Government Affairs department of IBEW informed about recent legislation in the US, especially on investment in infrastructure, the “Inflation Reduction Act” and the “Chips and Science Act”. There have also been “presidential orders” from US president Biden on public investment in construction and apprenticeship programs.
They said, that the US unions now focus on the support of the “PRO” act, which is aiming at a reform of the law concerning unions, and on legislation regarding apprenticeship programs and vocational training as well as environmental law. They pointed out, that Siemens and Siemens Energy locations in the US could benefit from the industrial policy of the US government. There will also be measures to promote investment on the level of single US states. The IBEW cooperates with Siemens on vocational training at various sites.
Harald Kern pointed out, that the topics, that are addressed by the latest US legislation, are also discussed in Germany and the rest of Europe. The Siemens portfolio clearly matches the content of the discussion on sustainability.
Rome Aloise (consultant of the IBB) proposed, that the political departments of all US unions, which are represented at Siemens and Siemens Energy, should work together and approach the management jointly.
The union representatives discussed the importance of organizing at unorganized sites. The representatives from Germany assured their full support. They explained, that in the case of union busting measures, it is important to give an information to the representatives from Germany as soon as possible to guarantee an effective assistance.
The union representatives from Germany explained, which representatives in Germany can be put in direct contact with the union representatives in the US and Canada from the parallel sites on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The direct contacts will start with online meetings to get to know each other. Concrete projects may be developed later.
The union representatives gave reports from the various sites. They then discussed in the concluding part of the meeting the organizing objectives of the unions at Siemens and Siemens Energy.
At the end of the meeting, the participants of the meeting said good-bye to Harald Kern, who will retire at the end of this year.
Report: Dirk Linder