This shows that the public image of the unions in the US is wrong in many ways. Unions help to protect the interests of their members, to enforce good working conditions and wages and to discuss the concerns of the workers with the management. And all this does not jeopardize jobs, but supports the development of high quality facilities that ensure employment.
Wayne Cupp, the president of the IUE-CWA (International Union of Electrical Workers – Communication Workers of America) local at the Siemens plant in Norwood/Ohio, and Randall Middleton, Director of the Manufacturing Department of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), give some comments on the situation and the work of the unions at Siemens in the US.
Different from other German companies in the US, there are several union representations at Siemens in the US. How would you - from your experiences - evaluate the cooperation with Siemens from the union point of view ?
Wayne Cupp: My experience is, that Siemens has always worked with the union at the Norwood Plant (IUE-CWA) more cooperatively than other companies. Siemens has gone out of its way to teach the union leadership about the business; so we understand why they make certain decisions that affect the union workers.
Randall Middleton: The relationship with the company and the union varies from location to location. Due to the fact the IBEW does not have any form of a national agreement, I have very little to do with the locations. Unfortunately at this time there is no type of coordination between the locals.
What is typically part of the agreements, your unions have with Siemens ?
Wayne Cupp: Our agreements deal with wages, benefits, seniority, grievance procedures and procedures for layoffs and promotions. Via the agreement the company also supplies the union with an office in the plant. This part of the agreement really helps to show the importance of a union and allows employees to be able to sit a talk to their Union representatives at the plant.
Randall Middleton: The local agreements consist of vacation eligibility, holiday schedules, work times, bereavement leaves, wages and work rules.
Do you think there should be and there can be more union representations at Siemens locations in the US ?
Wayne Cupp: Yes ! I think, Siemens recognizes the value of having strong relationships with workers and their unions. Unions can help keep workers engaged and involved in making the business a success. The cooperative partnership we have at Norwood, Ohio, can and should be replicated elsewhere.
Randall Middleton: Yes, I do feel we need to reach out to the non-union locations and make contact.
What do you think about the proceeding of Siemens at the Maryland plant in 2012, when Siemens actively prohibited the union USW to step in ?
Wayne Cupp: We believe the decision of whether or not to form a union should be left up to the workers themselves without interference from the company. We were disappointed to hear from the USW (United Steel Workers) that the company hired outside anti-union consultants to try to dissuade or pressure workers from voting yes, and that the company used tactics like captive audience meetings. We believe this goes against the Global Framework Agreement, and Siemens US management should not use these tactics in the future.
Randall Middleton: The way US Siemens handled this was very discouraging, considering we/they were told that they would not violate any US laws. They have National Labor Relations Board charges pending on violation that the company committed during the campaign.