Siemens Dialog
17.07.2024, 11:07 Uhr

Siemens and the US Inflation Reduction Act

USA: meeting with unions, management and government officials

  • 21.05.2024
  • International

On May 7th, a meeting of representatives of IG Metall, the Works Council of Siemens Germany, the US unions IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), USW (United Steel Workers), IAM (International Association of Machinists) and IBB (International Brotherhood of Boilermakers), the management of Siemens USA and US government officials took place at the IBEW building in Washington D.C..

US and German unions, members of congress, and management striving together for good working relations.

Mimon Uhamou (Siemens Supervisory Board member and Chairman of the Siemens Europe Committee) and Bettina Haller (Siemens Supervisory Board member and Chairwoman of the Central Works Council of Siemens Mobility Germany) represented the Works Council of Siemens Germany, Hagen Reimer (Siemens Supervisory Board member and responsible at IG Metall for Siemens) and Dirk Linder represented IG Metall.

The meeting was introduced by Austin Keyser from IBEW. Hagen Reimer and Mrs. Sachse (Siemens USA) also made some introducing remarks. They underlined the importance of good and stable relations of unions and management.

Brendan Danaher, deputy director for Labor at the White House and on the US National Economic Council, was the keynote speaker of the meeting. He mentioned the International Framework Agreement of Siemens as a good example of acceptance of unions at a multinational company in the US and all over the world. He explained various initiatives of the US government of president Biden to support investment, job growth, but also the expansion of union representation in the US.

Other topics of his speech were the demand for qualified workforce in the US, the big number of railway projects and legal initiatives of the government, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips Act. He underlined the active support of the US unions by the current US government.

Following Mr. Danaher´s keynote speech, Mr. Bose from the Federal Railroad Administration, Mrs. Shmavonian, Director of Made in America, and Mrs. Lipman from the Office of Energy Jobs explained the numerous government programs and initiatives in the US, which are aiming at attracting investment in the US, but are also including the issues of apprenticeship and other qualification programs as well as union recognition. The agreement of Siemens Mobility and the US union IAM was mentioned as a positive example.

After these explanations, Austin Keyser (IBEW) underlined the importance of apprenticeship programs, Mrs. Sachse (Siemens USA) saw good perspectives for a partnership of management and unions regarding the topics, that had been addressed, and Hagen Reimer emphasized, that the meeting would be a great opportunity to develop cooperation.

During the next two days, May 8th/9th, representatives of IBEW, USW, IUE-CWA, IBB and IG Metall held their regular meeting. On the first day, Siemens management representatives attended a part of the meeting.

Mimon Uhamou gave a presentation on the general situation at Siemens, the structure of the company and current developments from the point of view of the employee representatives. He also explained the German system of employee representation, especially the various bodies of representation at Siemens and the function of the Supervisory Board.

After this presentation and discussions among the union representatives, various representatives of the management of Siemens and Siemens Healthineers, but also from the Siemens Foundation, took part in the meeting. They informed the participants of the meeting about the Siemens activities in the US and also about the relations with the unions and the current collective bargaining agreements.
The representatives of the Siemens Foundation gave some information on the foundation´s activities, especially in the field of apprenticeship programs.

Representatives of the IBB criticized the anti-union activities of the local management of the Siemens Mobility plant in Sacramento, California. Hagen Reimer appealed to the management to see the International Framework Agreement of Siemens and the Memorandum of Understanding, that has been concluded with the US unions in 2016, as minimum, not maximum standards. They should not be used as a shield to prevent local solutions with the unions.

The US union representatives and the management agreed, that a cooperation in the field of apprenticeship programs could be useful.
They also agreed, that a review of the Memorandum of Understanding, which is in place at Siemens USA since 2016, should be done and some of the content might be re-negotiated.

Liz Weiss from AFL-CIO talked about the situation in the US, which is fundamentally influenced by aging workforce and a lack of skilled employees. She presented the program Registered Apprenticeship, which AFL-CIO is promoting in cooperation with several companies, in order to help to solve the existing problems in the US industry.

On the next day, the union representatives discussed the results of the meeting internally. The discussions and negotiations with the management will be continued in good faith and with the intention to find solutions. The representatives from Germany will support this as much as possible.

Finally, the union representatives from the US gave reports on their local situation. Vic Henderson from IUE-CWA said, that he would probably take part for the last time, because Siemens is about to sell off Innomotics, to which his site in Ohio belongs.

At the end of the meeting, all participants agreed to continue their cooperation. The focus of this cooperation will be to facilitate the possibilities of organizing employees of Siemens in the US in unions.

(Report: Dirk Linder)