Strike has little effect on operations at Germany bases
April 8, 2009
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Operations at U.S. military bases in Germany appear largely unaffected by a strike this week involving local national employees.
Wolfgang Brunner, a union representative who is leading negotiations for the strikers, said Monday that he expected up to 4,000 base workers to strike nationwide Monday and Tuesday in support of their demand for an 8 percent pay increase. The strikers claim the U.S. government has only offered to raise their pay by 1.9 percent.
A union spokesman in Berlin said 3,000 workers went on strike Tuesday.
More than 17,000 local nationals work at U.S. military facilities in Germany, from pumping gas at on-post service stations and processing paperwork to transporting Americans’ household goods in and out of the country.
At Grafenwöhr, the U.S. Army’s largest training area in Europe, U.S. personnel on Tuesday were greeted by picketers outside the main entrance gate when they arrived for work.
A spokesperson from the local national base workers’ union in the state of Bavaria said 800 workers went on strike Tuesday throughout the state, including 300 at Grafenwöhr.
Base operations at the training area appeared to continue as normal during the strike, although U.S. civilian workers reported up to 70 percent of staff absent from some on-post offices.
In Stuttgart, about 45 workers showed up Tuesday morning outside Kelley Barracks for a brief strike that quickly disbanded. Garrison officials said the protest caused no disruption in the delivery of services around post.
In the Kaiserslautern/Ramstein Air Base area, about 700 local national base workers held a strike meeting Monday near Ramstein village center but appeared to have returned to work Tuesday.
An unknown number of local national workers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center participated in the strike Monday, but operations at the hospital were not affected, medical center spokeswoman Marie Shaw said.
Fewer than 10 local national employees from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command participated in the strike Monday, said Sgt. Maj. Cameron Porter, a 21st TSC spokesman. The command has about 126 local nationals assigned, Porter said.
At the 21st TSC’s Theater Logistics Support Command-Europe, about 175 local nationals out of more than 2,000 employees participated Monday in the strike. That work force is nearly entirely staffed by local nationals. There was no impact to the operations and the mission of the 21st TSC headquarters and the TLSC-E, Porter said.
A U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman said the strike had no effect on bases in Ansbach, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart and Schweinfurt.
Stars and Stripes’ Marcus Klöckner, Steve Mraz and John Vandiver contributed to this report.