German union conducting warning strikes at U.S. bases
BAMBERG, Germany — The German union representing local national employees working for the U.S. government has urged members to join warning strikes this week at bases across Germany in support of their demands for a 5 percent increase in salary.
U.S. officials said the warning strikes had or were expected to have little impact on the operations at U.S. military facilities.
“After all of our attempts to negotiate failed, we asked the union workers to strike,” said Onno Dannenfelder, lead negotiator from ver.di, the German union representing the local nationals in wage negotiations.
Dannenfelder said the union was asking for a minimum 2 percent raise to cover the cost of inflation. He said an offer of a one-time 300-euro payment per person this fiscal year and next was unacceptable. He said this week’s rolling strikes were meant to underscore union demands ahead of resumption of negotiations next week.
“At this time, any possible agreements are deadlocked,” said Dannenfelder.
“It would not be appropriate to discuss the contents or status of the negotiations while the negotiations are ongoing,” said Bruce Anderson, a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe, which is representing U.S forces in the wage negotiations in Germany.
Karl Heinz Winter, deputy director of the ver.di union branch in Oberpfalz that represents German workers on U.S. bases, said strikes were planned Thursday from the start of the workday until noon at Grafenwöhr, Vilseck and Hohenfels. The Bamberg community also confirmed a strike was planned there for Friday.
The Stuttgart community was aware of the proposed warning strikes, and anticipated the strike would have minor impact on garrison operations. There could be slight delays in the shuttle bus operations on Thursday, a garrison spokeswoman wrote in an email.
The Schweinfurt Army garrison confirmed that workers went on strike for 24 hours Monday. The Kaiserslautern military community was unaware of any plans for strikes, a garrison spokesman said Wednesday.
At the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, spokeswoman Anemone Rueger said by email that about 25 of the 400 local national employees assigned to the garrison participated in a warning strike Wednesday and there was no impact on services.
Installation Management Command–Europe officials noted that not all German workers are part of the union. They were aware that a strike was proposed by ver.di, but were not tracking regional demonstrations the union may participate in.
The union said non-union members are welcome to join the demonstration.
“We fully respect their right to do that,” said Ken White, a spokesman for IMCOM-Europe.
Stars and Stripes reporters John Vandiver, Mark Patton and Kevin Dougherty contributed to this report.