Can Works Councils Be Legally Imported From the EU and Germany?


After workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., rejected an attempt by the United Auto Workers to gain representation, the company continued to express interest in bringing in a German-style works council, Kristin L. Oliveira of Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP and Jan Tibor Lelley of Buse Heberer Fromm write in this BNA Insights article. Although works councils are typically required in the European Union and nearly every VW plant in Europe has one, U.S. labor laws may prevent their implementation, the attorneys say.

A U.S. company wishing to voluntarily introduce such a system must carefully weigh the pros and cons of operating a business with this level of employee input, the authors say. The real challenge for American businesses, they say, is whether such a process would provide benefits to the company and workers or place undue restrictions on management’s ability to operate its business productively and profitably.

Originally published in the Daily Labor Report, 136 DLR I-1, 07/16/2014.

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