Research Group on Aging and the Life Course (FALL)
Old age and trade union politics
Funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, 1990-1992
Almost unperceived and quite unintentionally, the German Trade
Union Federation (DGB) has become one of the largest old-age organizations:
About 1.6 million retirees, pensioners and early retirees are
unionized. The study is the first comprehensive
analysis of the relationship between trade unions and the growing
numbers of the elderly in an aging society. Traditionally, the
trade unions focus on the labor force. Since the German unions
are based on industries, it is one of the core questions whether
they will have to change their organizational bases vis-á-vis
their aged constituency. Thus the German Trade Union
Confederation is getting a major role in the process of shaping
a unionist old age policy. By covering the interests of the elderly
and providing full membership rights for them the unions will
be forced to change into the direction of universalistic orientations
of citizenship rather than of particularistic orientations of
the workplace and labor conditions.
The study comprises the following steps:
- A survey among the entire German unions (including those
which are not member of the German Trade Union Confederation)
on the number of members, the proportion of retirees, membership
fees, and the participation and representation
of the elderly.
- A mail survey of all local union offices of the Metal
Workers' Union on their activities for and with their older members.
- A mail survey of a representative sample of 1.500 members
of the Metal Workers' Union aged 55 to 70 on their life situation,
their activities in general and their experiences and demands
regarding the union.
- Seven case studies on local union offices of the Metal
Workers' Union in West-Germany and two case studies in the East
(one on the Union of Chemical Workers), including expert interviews, participant
observation, group discussions and qualitative biographical interviews.
The study is embedded in a wider
analysis of activities and representation of the elderly in other
organizations such as political parties and voluntary organizations,
including the Italian retirees' unions. Thus the old age politics
of the trade unions can be compared with other senior citizens
Prof. Dr. Martin Kohli (Director)
Dr. Jürgen Wolf (Director)
Harald Künemund (Researcher)
Dr. Sighard Neckel (Researcher 1990-1991)
Holger Hainke (Researcher 1991-1992)
Christina Teipen (Research assistant)
Jürgen Wolf, Martin Kohli & Harald Künemund (Hrsg.) (1994):
Alter und gewerkschaftliche Politik. Auf dem Weg zur Rentnergewerkschaft?
Harald Künemund, Sighard Neckel & Jürgen Wolf (1993): Die
Rentnergewerkschaft - Ein neuer Akteur der Alterspolitik? In:
Soziale Welt, 44, 537-554.
For additional articles see our list of publications.
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