Who we are and why we’re doing what we’re doing
Many of us have experienced bad working conditions. Many of us are being ripped of by our bosses, which is even easier for them if we don’t know our rights at work. We have organized under the umbrella of FAU to fight back. In FAU, we struggle collectively for better working conditions and educate ourselves collectively on our rights and ways to act.
We come from various countries and work in a range of industries, making our experiences very diverse. This gives us a variety of skills and resources to work with. Some of us have been part of union struggles for many years, while others have joined recently, contributing new perspectives and ideas. Diversity is our strength.
Our struggles have many layers: we offer practical support and counseling to individual members for smaller problems, for example by making their boss pay wages or leave pay. We run long-term campaigns for collective solidarity. We help our members organize their workplaces and struggle for better conditions. Our members are directly involved in these activities. And you can join us!
FAU is a militant, grass-roots union. It’s the guiding principle for everything we do. Wir sind überzeugt: Wenn wir Arbeiter_innen uns zusammenschließen, können wir selbst am besten unser Leben verändern. Let us take back the power from the capitalist system and work which have such a strong grip on our lives!
A brief history of FAU
FAU was founded as a successor FAUD, the largest anarcho-syndicalist union of pre-war Germany, which was dismantled as part of the Nazis rise to power in 1933. In its strongest phase, FAUD had about 150,000 members. Since its creation in 1977, FAU has been constantly developing. We are a dynamic, radical union – we’re quick to adapt and capable of answering changes in work relations with new forms of action.
Work relations and conditions are constantly changing, always for the benefit of bosses and their profits and mostly to the detriment of workers. The bosses keep discovering new ways for circumventing the rights that workers all over the world have won in their struggles. Buzzwords like “flexibility” and catchphrases like “Be your own boss” often gloss over unpaid overtime, no paid leave and no health insurance.
Social and retirement benefits, health care and wages are slashed while health insurance fees, taxes and rents are on the rise – particularly for those who have the least and depend most on them. We’re expected to work longer, for less pay and without any expectation of long-term security. And we’re supposed to be grateful for being allowed to sell our labor for any wage at all.
Wir werden dazu gebracht, unsere Kolleg_innen beim Chef zu verpetzen. When we see others suffering, we’re supposed to blame them, their lifestyle, their wrong priorities, their laziness or weakness for it.
We’re discouraged from looking at things from a larger perspective: how the way our society is structured shapes the opportunities and decisions of the individual. We’re supposed to be indifferent to the plight of others.
FAU provides a place for us, workers, to come together. A place where we can learn to understand the problems we face in the workplace. Recognizing how similar the problems we face as workers, here in Leipzig and all over the world, only takes a small step.
FAU and the large German unions
Why is it better to join FAU than Ver.di, IG Metall or another union that is part of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB)?
Unser grundlegendes Prinzip ist die Selbstorganisation. FAU is a grass-roots union: our members make all decisions. Other than the large unions, we don’t have a hierarchy of union officials who have an interest in cooperating with the police, authorities or other capitalist unions and in keeping agreements with companies.
When our membership gets involved in a struggle, we call it a direct action, because there are no intermediaries who might have an interest in reining in workers to secure their own position and their union’s good relations with authorities and companies.
Any support you get when you’re organized in FAU comes from other workers like you. We don’t organize your struggle for you, but together with you.
As a member of FAU, you decide how you want to deal with the problems at your workplace and what support you need from the union. Other than the large unions which tend to prefer struggles with significant financial or political benefits, there is no action too small nor too big for FAU. We don’t have any paid union officials, no higher committees, no figures of authority that we depend on: we build on the mutual solidarity of our members. We make decisions together. We won’t pressure you to start a militant struggle at your workplace, but we also don’t offer services for individuals. In a self-organized union, you are the union and the union is only as strong as its members.
FAU struggles to defend the rights that the working class has won and pushes for the development of a militant workers’ movement. For a future with an economy based on solidarity and self-government.
A militant union
We are a young and dynamic union. Wir versuchen aktiv, die Zustände zu verändern. We don’t differentiate between students, unemployed, self-employed, part-time and full-time workers. Alle sind willkommen, weil wir alle vor denselben Problemen stehen.
We encourage you to observe your workplace: do you and your colleagues know your rights? What problems do you have? What do you need to solve them?
To get a conversation going, it makes sense to unionize at the workplace and start thinking critically about work and our roles. Only if we organize collectively and resist using direct action, can we begin to make improvements to the situation at the workplace and in our lives.