“All leaders of the independent labor unions in protective custody”

“Alle Führer der frein Gewerkschaften in Schutzhaft”

This was the headline in the May 2, 1933 edition of the Berliner Börsen-Courier, a progressive newspaper in Berlin.

According to an exhibit in Berlin’s Topography of Terror museum and research center, the newspaper was reporting on “the nationwide occupation of labor union headquarters by the SA [Hitler’s brownshirts] and SS [Hitler’s elite guard and fighting force] and the arrest of all leading union activists.”

Hitler and his fellow sadistic thugs knew that to control the rank-and-file, you had to destroy any semblance of an independent labor movement.

Think about it.

***

After participating in the Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Berlin, I was able to visit the Topography of Terror museum and research center, which helps to preserve the painful history of the Nazi era. Located on the grounds of the “central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror” and abutted by remaining portions of the Berlin Wall, it is well worth your time if you find yourself visiting the city.

2 responses

  1. As businesses, universities, states, counties, cities worldwide stumble through the recession some find themselves in a phase of creative disassembly. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. World class University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) and his $7 million outside consultants are firing employees via his “Operational Excellence (OE)”: 2,000 axed by end 2011. Yet many cling to an old assumption: the implied, unwritten management-employee contract.

    Management promised work, upward progress for employees fitting in, employees accepted lower wages, performing in prescribed ways, sticking around. Longevity was good employer-employee relations; turnover a dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply in the 21 century economy. Businesses, universities, public institutions can no longer guarantee careers, even if they want to. Managements paralyzed themselves with a strategy of “success brings successes” rather than “successes brings failure’ and are now forced to break implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that future can be controlled.

    Jettisoned employees are discovering that hard won knowledge earned while loyal is no longer desired in employment markets. What contract can employers, employees make with each other?

    The central idea is simple, powerful: job is a shared partnership.
    • Employers, employees face financial conditions together; longevity of partnership depends on how well customers, constituencies needs are met.
    • Neither management nor employee has future obligation to the other.
    • Organizations train people.
    • Employees create security they really need – skills, knowledge that creates employability in 21st century economies
    • The management-employee loyalty partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.

    Sustained employability in the 21st century economy is not loyalty to management, company, university, public agency or union.

  2. As bleak as things may appear, there is always hope. There are still those holding fast to old fashion values, despite the growing trend to value profit over people. When all is said and done, we are each responsible for our own actions, regardless of finacial issues or current trends. Dare to care is my motto.

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