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Abstract

Drawing on case studies from the telecommunications and auto industries, the authors argue that the vertical disintegration of major German employers is contributing to the disorganization of Germany’s dual system of in-plant and sectoral negotiations. Subcontractors, subsidiaries and temporary agencies often have no collective bargaining institutions or are covered by different firm-level and sectoral agreements. As core employers move jobs to these firms, they introduce new organizational boundaries across the production chain and disrupt traditional bargaining structures. Worker representatives are developing new campaign approaches and using residual power at large firms to establish representation in new firms and sectors, but these have not been successful at rebuilding co-ordinated bargaining.