Posts By: Thomas Minzenmay

By on May 18, 2009

In the ongoing drama between Porsche and Volkswagen, the MSM tends to forget that this is also a tale of two unions. Volkswagen is organized not to say owned by the German metal workers union. With 2.3 million members, IGM is the single biggest union in the world. Half the VW supervisory board belongs to the unions. In case of a deadlock, the decisive vote lies with the stockholders. The unions can also count on the state government—with its blocking minority vote— being “sympathetic” towards their suggestions. Porsche has their own union representation: The Porsche Workers’ Council. So just as we’ve got Porsche – Piech battle royale, there’s an IGM vs. Porche Workers’ Council cage match. Let the games begin! Or, uh, continue.

By on May 16, 2009

A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man. Piech certainly spends a lot of time with his family, however, they‘re seldomly good times. It has been a long tradition for the Piech and the Porsche side of the family to fight each other and the power struggle over at Volkswagen is merely an extension of that.

By on May 15, 2009

Hakan Samuelsson thought he had it all figured out. In 2006, the CEO of German commercial truck manufacturer MAN schemed to take over his former employer, and Swedish rival Scania. He had the banks behind him. VW owned 30 percent of Scania; they had to agree to the takeover. And why not? Volkswagen had no use for Scania, as VW’s commercial truck division only operates in South America. So Hakan Samuelsson made a deal with Bernd Pischetsrieder, then head of Volkswagen. Unfortunately for Mr. Samuelsson, he talked to the wrong guy. Ferdinand Piech, the person pulling the strings over in Wolfsburg, had different plans. . .

By on May 3, 2007

vader.jpgIn the Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker stands in front of the Jedi Council. Master Yoda senses that Skywalker’s fear of losing his mother is clouding his mind. “Fear is the path to the dark side,” Yoda pronounces. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And there you have it: the story of the merger between Daimler-Benz and the Chrysler Corporation. Witnessing much suffering, we are.

By on March 22, 2007

oldbeetle_hr222.jpgGermany’s IGM is the world’s largest labor union. What’s more, German law dictates that half of any German corporation’s supervisory board (minus one) must be “reserved” for its members. In Volkswagen’s case, even elected board members are subject to union influence; the politically malleable state government of Lower Saxony controls VW’s elected seats. As previously described, union control over “The People’s Car” has inflicted grievous harm on VW’s brand positioning. Yet in the last year, there have been signs of change.

By on March 22, 2007

nazi_propaganda_kdf.jpgMy first car was a 1989 Passat station wagon. The Passat fully embodied the literal translation of the company’s name: the people’s car. It was reasonably priced, cheap to maintain and mechanically robust. The interior was roomy and practical. Compare it to today’s expensive, unreliable and over-plush Passat and you’ll know why the German automaker is in trouble. Volkswagen has lost their natural place in the market, a spot originally staked-out by Adolph Hitler.

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