Re: UAW website

Robert S. Thau (
Sun, 14 Jun 1998 22:52:12 -0400 (EDT)

Joachim Feise writes:
> This used to be the case, but recently at least in some cases the
> German labor unions proved to be quite flexible. For example, at
> Volkswagen, they accepted the 4-day work week, with wage cuts. This
> would have been unthinkable up to the early nineties.

The four-day week, or the pay cuts? BTW, this is a very interesting
contrast to the situation in the states --- last I heard (about a year
ago), one of the perennial disputes between labor and management in
the auto industry was that labor was actually *asking* for fewer hours
per worker, and management was turning them down. (Management, faced
with increasing orders, preferred to run its existing workforce ragged
with overtime, rather than to hire new workers and pay for their
benefits. Which is another illustration of the perverse incentives
created by the American model --- unique among major industrial powers
--- of having employers pay for employees' health insurance... but I

I'd also like to thank Mike and Joachim for their comments and
corrections. (Just one note: Mike, I hadn't meant to say that the
German arrangement was perfect, or completely voluntary, but just to
cite it as an example of something different from what we find in
America, which is at least arguably better in certain respects. But
the clarification is well taken in any case).