Only 14% of US-workers have collective agreements / Unions systematically pushed out of Bayer factories / protests at Bayer Berkeley plant
Bayer Corporation announced the laying off of 29 union workers in Berkeley/California. The factory is one of the last unionized Bayer plants in the US. About 150 workers protested in front of the plant despite Bayer's threats against those going to the rally.
Only last year the company received a $10 million tax break from the Berkeley and Oakland City Councils. Prior to this Bayer had threatened to outsource parts of the production to a contract manufacturer. The Berkeley plant is the sole producer of Bayer´s antihemophilic factor Kogenate. Sales for Kogenate last year were 888 million Euro (about $1.2 billion).
Donal Mahon from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Oakland comments: “The company told us they would give us 45 days notice before layoffs and that they would occur in the fourth quarter. They gave us two days notice, they were double what was expected, and they came in the third quarter. They also threatened to lay more of us off and rewrite the job descriptions to take production jobs out of the bargaining unit if we took the issue to arbitration.”
Despite Bayer´s promise that “employees have the opportunity to form representative bodies at all our sites” (Bayer Sustainability Report 2009) the company conducts aggressive anti-union campaigns, especially in the US. Only 14% of Bayer´s North American workforce have collective agreements on wages and working conditions (the lowest percentage of all Bayer employees worldwide), in comparison to 42% in Latin America and 88% in Europe.
Workforces considering to establish works councils are told by Bayer that unions are jeopardizing jobs. Factories with organized workers are threatened with being closed. This is a threat that has often been carried out: in 2007 Bayer shut down a pharmaceuticals plant in West Haven, Connecticut; 1,500 highly skilled union workers were laid off. Also in 2007 the polymer factory in New Martinsville was reduced in size; about half the bargaining unit was thrown out or given severance. And the Elkhart/Indiana plant with a workforce of more than 2.200, largely unionized, was nearly completely shut down.
Axel Köhler Schnura from the watchdog group Coalition against Bayer Dangers, which has been monitoring the company for more than 30 years, says: “BAYER has a long history of giving profits precedence over labor rights. It is a scandal that 45 percent of the total Bayer workforce are not protected by collective bargaining agreements. The low extent of unionization results in lower wages and less resistance to dismissals.”
Less than a handful of Bayer´s more than fifty factories in North America are still unionized. Bayer has more than 16.000 employees in North America. About a quarter of Bayer´s sales are made in the US, more than in Bayer´s home country Germany. (online: www.cbgnetwork.de/3536.html )
· Bayer HealthCare Job Cuts Unlikely to Be Reversed: www.dailycal.org/article/110536/bayer_healthcare_job_cuts_unlikely_to_be_reversed
· Coalition against Bayer Dangers (English site): www.cbgnetwork.de/4.html