Why do union workers make more money

Most union bosses are now willing to give their annual salary. It was different just a few years ago. At that time, the question of it was already considered degoutant and taboo.

The change in awareness among trade unionists is no coincidence. Because it was precisely the functionaries of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) who repeatedly demanded from the corporate boards that they make their income transparent.

The heads of the 30 companies listed in the Dax German share index now publish their remuneration annually in their annual reports. There are no corresponding guidelines for the trade unionists, but it would not be consistent and not very credible if they in particular withholding their salary. It would also be unwise, because given the salaries of top managers in the millions, the annual income of union leaders is comparatively low.

Union-internal information

Berthold Huber, the first chairman of IG Metall, earns the most. He receives almost 260,000 euros a year and leads the largest DGB union with 2.3 million members in 2008. Transnet boss Alexander Kirchner, who heads one of the smaller DGB unions with 227,690 members, earns the least with EUR 105,600.

Konrad Freiberg, the chairman of the police union, does not want to publish his salary. "It is internal union information," said a union spokesman. In most of the DGB unions, internal committees and the works councils decide on a kind of "house collective agreement". This regulates the wage increases for union employees and bosses.

"Keep silent about the level of income"

Most of the trade unions that are not part of the DGB give vague information. At the Beamtenbund, for example, it is said that chairman Peter Heesen has a salary that is somewhere between the salaries of a state secretary and a minister - that is 11,000 to 14,000 euros a month. The Federal Office of Civil Servants has always kept a secret of the chairman's income, and anyone who asks the reason for this will only get this answer: "The chairman’s service contract stipulates that both sides should keep silent about the amount of income."

The member unions of the Beamtenbund in turn handle the matter differently. The Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) gives an approximation of the salary of its chairman. Claus Weselsky is paid "analogously to salary group A 16", which corresponds to a basic salary of almost 5300 euros per month. The other rail union GDBA left the question of the income of their boss Klaus-Dieter Hommel unanswered. The question of salary does not arise at the Philologists Association - the chairman Heinz-Peter Meidinger is still head of a grammar school in his main job.

Many work on a voluntary basis

The boards of most branch unions also work on a voluntary basis. At the Cockpit Association, for example, the board of directors consists of active pilots, at the Air Traffic Control Union there are active air traffic controllers, air traffic control technicians and engineers, and doctors at the Marburger Bund.

Many trade unionists have additional income in addition to their annual salary, for example from supervisory board mandates. The DGB has clearly regulated for its unions what happens to the additional income. According to this, the employee representatives on the supervisory boards of companies have to transfer a part to the union-related Hans Böckler Foundation. For a simple member of the supervisory board, the following applies: With an annual remuneration of up to 3500 euros, ten percent must be paid; for remuneration of more than 3500 euros, it is 90 percent. If you violate the regulation, you will be sued, say IG Metall.

© SZ from 02/18/2009 / iko / pak