Still Married After All These Years? Union Organizing and the Role of Works Councils in German Industrial Relations
German trade unions are seeking new ways to counteract a steady downward trend in membership that has dragged on for fifteen years. Works councils' activities aimed at recruiting new members may play an important role in such efforts. The author's analysis of data from the fourth WSI survey of works and staff councils (2004-2005) shows that almost half of all works councils supported unions' recruitment endeavors, using a wide range of methods. Works councils' willingness to take active part in membership recruitment increased substantially when works councilors were personally involved in trade union affairs and were supported by negotiating bodies. Also important was works councilor participation in trade union seminars and training sessions. Favorable perceptions of such institutions were positively associated with the likelihood that works councils would actively engage in new member recruitment. The analysis also reveals a positive association between recruitment activity and plant-level union membership growth.
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