What do you think is the nature of the works councils?
Should they be considered unions, or proto-unions?
What should be the response to workers who operate in a workplace that has a works council, but not a labor union presence (official or unofficial) be?
And what should the response to workers who operate in a workplace that has a works council and a registered/recognized labor union be?
While they are common in Europe, they do exist in the US. Especially in the state-funded/run college and university system. Most state-funded and/or operated colleges and universities in the United States have a 'Classified Employees Council'- each department of workers on campus (custodial, HR, landscaping/grounds maintanence, typists & clerical workers, skilled tradesmen like plumbers and electricians, etc) elect 2 of their fellow workers from their department to represent them for 1 or 2 years through a private ballot election on the CEC. These worker-representatives have voting power on the council, which also includes non-voting observers (generally one or two people- from the schools executive officials like the president and VP, others from the state Classified Employees Council Committee) who report back to their respective offices. They handle negotiations the way a union would, including safety, changes in uniform, changes in raises or benefits, etc.
Here's a couple links to a school with a CEC, the links to their CEC documents, and a link to the state CEC Committee.
West Virginia State University:
"The purpose of the Association of Classified Employees of West Virginia State University is to promote the welfare and well-being of the classified employees of West Virginia State University by:
- Enhancing communication among classified staff in matters pertaining to the college in general and the classified staff in particular.
- Facilitating staff input into decisions which affect classified staff.
- Encouraging cooperation, coordination, and communication among staff.
- Fostering improvement of working conditions for classified staff through input into staff development programs and appointment or election of classified staff to major college committees.
- Conveying classified staff concerns to the West Virginia Board of Directors through the Advisory Council of Classified Employees established by the West Virginia Legislature (H.B. 1230 - March 19, 1981) "
-Association Of Classified Employees Of West Virginia State University
West Virginia Advisory Council of Classified Employees