To merge or not to merge? The impact of union merger decisions on workers' representation in Germany


  • Martin Behrens is Programme Director in WSI, Hans-Boeckler-Foundation; Andreas Pekarek is Ph.D. Candidate at Monash University, Australia.

Correspondence should be addressed to Martin Behrens, WSI, Hans-Boeckler-Foundation, Hans-Boeckler-Strasse 39, Duesseldorf 40476, Germany; email:


Union mergers have been widely studied in a variety of countries; however, little is known about their impact on union effectiveness. This article draws on in-depth interviews with officials and works councillors from four German unions, as well as on a representative survey of German works councils, to analyse how a union's merger status shapes its effectiveness in three spheres of activity: political lobbying, collective bargaining and establishment-level interest representation. We compare two cases of merger with two cases of continued organisational independence, finding that merger outcomes for individual unions vary considerably across our three union functions.