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Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For Developers To Start Their Own Union?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the coders-unite dept.

The Almighty Buck 761

juicegg writes "TechCrunch contributor Klint Finley writes that developers have shunned unions because traditional workplace demands like higher pay are not important to us while traditional unions are incapable of advocating for what developers care about most while at work: autonomy and self-management. Is this how most developers feel? What about overtime, benefits, conditions for contractors and outsourcing concerns? Are there any issues big enough to get developers and techies to make collective demands or is it not worth the risk? Do existing unions offer advantages or is it better to start from scratch?"

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Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41882137)

In my lifetime, I don't recall a single industry that that has started a successful union in the U.S. (not in ANY field). All the unions that still have any real power are the ones still around from the Roosevelt New Deal and postwar days (the Teamsters, UAW, etc.).

So it's hardly fair to single out developers. There are very few fields that are significantly unionized anymore, and most of the ones that are are represented by older unions that go way back. When you look around and see that there are no unions with any real power that have been founded in your lifetime, it's pretty easy to be skeptical and pretty hard to volunteer to be the sacrificial lamb (by being the first voice in your field supporting a union) and endanger your career in the process.

It probably also doesn't help that political support for unions, even among many Democrats, pretty much dried up a long time ago.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#41882223)

Does government count? Because that's where all the union growth is coming from. I guess the government (local, state, and federal) is mistreating and abusing workers. Who knew.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882589)

And don't forget the growth from states where they force people who take care of their disabled relatives to pay union dues.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41882669)

You know..rather that strengthening UNIONs and their like...

Why don't we try to strengthen laws for individuals....and make things easier for people to self employ, self incorporate and contract themselves.

Let each person be responsible for negotiating their own pay rates, etc.

Make it easier for people to do their own healthcare, and retirement.....have co-ops out there, etc?

Why do we keep going down the path of group-think, and putting everyone into the same bowl and treating everyone the same.

Why not make it easier for people to be in charge of, and manage their own destiny?

Give the individual more rights, and put more teeth in laws protecting the individual....not the unions.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (2)

ogar572 (531320) | about 2 years ago | (#41882835)

Where are my dam mod points when I need them? This is exactly what needs to be done.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (2)

moonbender (547943) | about 2 years ago | (#41882803)

Maybe, just maybe, you're confusing cause and effect there? Government workers aren't mistreated quite as much as, say, people working in an Amazon warehouse because they are unionised. Among other things, obviously: the government has a harder time mistreating people because there is some sort of political and democratic oversight. For the same reason, the government can't appear to be suppressing worker organisation. And of course government workers are usually more highly trained and less replaceable than warehouse workers.

For the record I have no idea if parent's assertion that government workers in the US are strongly unionised and my assertion that they're less mistreated bears any resemblance to reality.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882271)

Standard 1%'er response to the formation of a new union:

"Fuck you, I just moved all your jobs to India/China where they'll be grateful to work for peanuts under me rather than half peanuts under the despotism."

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41882337)

Maybe co-ops would be a better idea...

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882767)

Show one instance where this has happened. I'll bet you can't.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882315)

Certainly not in a 'race to the bottom' corporate run environment that dislikes workers being able to stand up for their own rights; a lot of rhetoric has been levied against unions... and yes, unions can suffer from corruption, too... but should not every be destroyed. The laborer is (for the time being, anyways) one of the single most important units in operating a business, a community, or a nation... and yet we're leaning more and more (back into some dark days of history) like a resource to be consumed, spent, and discarded. So... yes... developers are a good place to START a new union... to reinvigoration the notion that the work force should be able to have a certain minimal-but-acceptable standard of living and self-actualization in the face of a corporate storm that is trying to cut every corner possible for the pocket-lining of the CEOs and stockholders.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41882433)

I haven't heard of any either, but I could clearly see a white collar information technology union. The need for one is quite apparent.

As financial conditions deteriorate, and simultaneously the need for more IT labor increases, the more management is pressured to "get more for less."

Eventually there has to be a breaking point. When whole IT depts are cut down to essentially 2 to 5 people, and miracles are expected, eventually the "I love challenges!" Personality trait many IT people have (especially younger ones. I have suspicions that this is the real reason why manaement craves those 'early 20s' IT workers over more experienced ones) will eventually be overwhelmed, and a huge section of the industry will become disillusioned.

That's when I would expect unions.

Apparent to who?? (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41882527)

I haven't heard of any either, but I could clearly see a white collar information technology union. The need for one is quite apparent.

Odd, I have not seen a need to have my paycheck garnished in order to pay the wages of a bunch of executives who do nothing for me. You already get enough of that with company management as it is.

As financial conditions deteriorate, and simultaneously the need for more IT labor increases, the more management is pressured to "get more for less."

As the need for IT labor increases so does the amount you can ask to be paid, and the greater the opportunity to switch jobs for higher pay.

Eventually there has to be a breaking point.

We reached it a while ago. Unions are broken, and developers are way too rational to bring long term harm on themselves for short term gain.

Re:Apparent to who?? (2)

drakaan (688386) | about 2 years ago | (#41882837)

Thank you for writing what I was thinking. Your last sentence states it perfectly.

Re:Does *any* industry start a new union anymore? (5, Interesting)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41882617)

A big problem that I see with white collar office workers is that, traditionally, unions have had to be willing to bust the heads of scabs and besiege workplaces with picket lines to survive (among other things). That's fine if you're Teamsters or other blue-collar workers not afraid to break out bricks and baseball bats when needed in a strike. It's not so easy when you're dealing with office drones who hesitate to say an unkind word.

If your union is going to succeed, you have to be willing to go all the way. And I seriously doubt that you'll ever get than from any professional field. If your employers know that they can just replace you or outsource you with no repercussions (or, more accurately, with no concussions), then you will never have any real bargaining power.

Just stop. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882169)

Unions are poison. Get this rubbish out of here.

Re:Just stop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882241)

Negotiating with management doesn't normally go very well when it's 1-on-1. Private sector unions are extremely beneficial. Public sector unions are a different beast entirely.

Re:Just stop. (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 2 years ago | (#41882791)

Management tends to dislike turnover. And this is exactly the place where you have control.

A good place to start... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882207)

http://www.cs.uni.edu/~campbell/stat/venn.html

Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882225)

Somehow I doubt most developers will go for a union. Partly because developer pay still tends to be high and, in a lot of places, a good developer who doesn't like their job and simply quit and get another one. Also, most of the people I've talked to who are in a union say they'd be better off without it. Especially since our government can just order unionized workers back inside and off the picket line.

step 1: take responsibility for your fucking work (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882233)

this may mean licensing or journeyman boards, but jesus. take some responsibility. right now you can just shit code out and put the words "rock star" on your resume. Stop with the entitlement shit until you stand behind your work.

Re:step 1: take responsibility for your fucking wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882445)

huh?

Re:step 1: take responsibility for your fucking wo (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | about 2 years ago | (#41882747)

The simple fact that you seem to miss in understanding his statement, tells all.

Re:step 1: take responsibility for your fucking wo (1)

eth1 (94901) | about 2 years ago | (#41882637)

this may mean licensing or journeyman boards, but jesus. take some responsibility. right now you can just shit code out and put the words "rock star" on your resume. Stop with the entitlement shit until you stand behind your work.

Right... Given that the schedule is usually set by marketing, and stuff ships regardless of whether the devs think it's ready or not, I can't blame them for washing their hands of it.

A civil engineer isn't going to sign off on an unfinished bridge just because the city promised to have it open by today. A developer shouldn't have to, either.

NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (5, Insightful)

ThomK (194273) | about 2 years ago | (#41882235)

"because traditional workplace demands like higher pay are not important to us"

Since when is higher pay simply "not important"?

Re:NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882339)

Since when is higher pay simply "not important"?

Since many software developers make far more money than they need to survive.

I could accept a pay cut of $20K - $30K without significantly affecting my life. And I would consider that a reasonable tradeoff for a job that was significantly better in non-monetary ways.

Re:NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882381)

Gee, maybe because we're already paid well?

Re:NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882427)

I think what he was trying to get at was that developers already (should) make decent, livable wages... So it isn't a huge concern to push for higher wages.

Re:NEWS: Higher pay no longer important. (5, Funny)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#41882657)

And since when does the guy with root access need a union to negotiate?

unions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882243)

Unions can suck my big ol c**k, really hard. Tehy've done nothing but destroy this country.

Re:unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882349)

Too flaccid, sorry

I'd Join (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882253)

For what it's worth, I'd join. I think there are wage and condition concerns not to mention being able to provide representation in disputes with clients and some sort of indemnity insurance that often comes with Union membership.

Re:I'd Join (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#41882705)

Well, Anonymous Coward is on board. Great.

Not Going to Happen (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#41882255)

The second a union starts, the company closes the local shop and outsources all development to a place where unions are illegal.

Manufacturers at least have a direct cost associated with moving a factory; most costs attributed to outsourcing are intangible in development and are thus usually ignored by PHBs.

Re:Not Going to Happen (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41882633)

Doesn't seem to have affected industry one little bit. Or have you missed the news on manufacturing in the US over the past 40 years?

Re:Not Going to Happen (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#41882721)

I didn't say it was easy to start a manufacturing union, I simply said it was even harder for developers due to a lack of direct costs in moving to non-unionized labor in our field.

Re:Not Going to Happen (3, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41882717)

It's time for a tariff on foreign labor.

Unions are cat litter...or worse (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882257)

Most labor unions are led by communists and care for the wages of the bosses only. The run of the mill membe is only expected to provide dues so the bosses can give it to their political candidates.

Unions? No way. I'd rather be jobless and homeless than to belong to a thug-run labor union.

Re:Unions are cat litter...or worse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882823)

Aye, working for a thug-run corporation is much better, right? And voting for a thug-run politician?

Here's an idea: why not transform the way unions work. Your nonsense generalizations aside, if you believe there's a problem - fix it. Unions may, in fact, give the majority of us a fighting chance against a corrupt political and corporate climate and ultimately it's one of the most DEMOCRATIC of institutions.

How silly, 1950's-era, red-scare comments like this gets modded up is beyond me. Herp derp.... commmmmmmieeeeeeeeees!!!

Unions are archaic (4, Insightful)

gavron (1300111) | about 2 years ago | (#41882275)

Before the Internet, and before the common man had access to rally others, communicate to the masses, and see others' opinions, unions had value.
They kept child labor in the mines but made more money for the children's parents and for the union bosses.

Today unions are obsolete. The only people who advocate unions are the unions themselves, and those who've already joined that now want to "haze" everyone else because "they got hazed."

Sorry, jack. No unions.

E

Re:Unions are archaic (5, Interesting)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 2 years ago | (#41882461)

Unions are archaic because workers can trust employers to treat them decently.

The video game industry is a perfect example.

ORGANIZE!

Re:Unions are archaic (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882487)

It's quite nice to have professionals negotiating on your behalf when the company you work for decides to sack a lot of people, or when a company decides to not follow the law. Strength in numbers is still valid.

Re:Unions are archaic (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#41882703)

If this is what unions did in practice, I'd agree. My (limited) experience with unions and my wife's much more extensive experience shows that they spend most of their energies defending the weakest people in their membership roles. People who, by any objective standard, should be fired. They shift the whole focus of the workforce from "are we achieving the goal?" to "are we following the rules?". Further, they tend to be run by long-time union members and not by people with a professional background in business, finance, etc. Finally, they poison our political atmosphere - we have very weak rules in the US about who can throw money around. Government unions are a total scam, and private unions often get public officials involved in what should be a private business matter. I won't get into physical intimidation, since I'm sure you'd agree that is a black eye that unions are notorious for. To be fair, employers were the ones who were notorious for this in the past.

I think the concept of the union is sound and I think they should be commended for some of their past achievements. I just think we need serious reform of the current practice, which is self-defeating.

Re:Unions are archaic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882653)

Ask Seth MacFarlane if he thinks Unions matter.

Seth MacFarlane on why WGA strike is for the "little guy"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGqRN1t2ZQc

Re:Unions are archaic (3, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | about 2 years ago | (#41882683)

Facilitating communication is, at best, a secondary (if necessary) function of unions. Unions serve as collective bargaining platforms to somewhat level an otherwise inherently unbalanced power relationship. I don't know about the specific unions you're talking about, and I don't care. There are many kinds of unions, and they don't share many attributes regarding their internal structure. I do know that fundamentally nothing has changed regarding the imbalance of power.

Unions may be archaic, but so is human society.

Re:Unions are archaic (1)

bazorg (911295) | about 2 years ago | (#41882713)

I don't know if your view on this matter is that common or if it is specific to your context (many readers here are from the USA, right?). In my view, having assisted a friend during an employment dispute, I can see a lot of value in having specialists representing and helping you as an employee. Surely you've noticed that the employers always have representation provided by legal firms specialised in employment affairs!

I'm in the UK I was even told that the proportion of cases settled before escalating is significantly higher from the moment that the employee says they'll call their union representative to attend the disciplinary hearing.

Who wants one (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882277)

Why would you want a Union? My observation is that Unions drag everything to the mediocre. It drags down the top performers and brings up the dead wood. If i'm a top performer I can do better for myself on my own. I guess if I'm a bottom feeder I'm interested, but probably too lazy to to care.

Well, I suppose developers would have to want one. (4, Interesting)

multicoregeneral (2618207) | about 2 years ago | (#41882279)

It would be a hard sell to the development community these days. Especially when we're facing overseas competition, and domestic competition from overseas labor. A union would make American developers un-competitive, and force businesses over the edge of insisting they can't afford american labor, even further. Sure, it would be nice if congress fixed that, but they haven't in the twelve years I've been watching. So, it's probably not feasible any time soon.

contradictio in terminis: Union for more autonomy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882299)

"while traditional unions are incapable of advocating for what developers care about most while at work: autonomy and self-management"

That seems to be kinda contradicting. If you're all for more autonomy (which, as a developer, I am), why care for unions?

The current demand in developers is so high that if you don't like your job, or the environments/conditions surrounding it, you can easily go elsewhere. Also, I believe that because of the lack of developers, it's now way easier for me to negotiate my own contract terms, than if some union would do so. After all, the threat 'then I"ll have to go look elsewhere' would lose a lot of significance if every company would have comparable terms.

Disclaimer: I'm live and work in Europe.

Re:contradictio in terminis: Union for more autono (4, Informative)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about 2 years ago | (#41882775)

Disclaimer: I'm live and work in Europe

...where you already have 4+ weeks vacation, sane working hours, protection from dismissal without cause, guaranteed health care if you do lose your job, and so on and so forth. Understandable that you don't see the appeal of a better contract.

Wouldn't This Exacerbate Outsourcing Concerns? (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41882309)

What about overtime, benefits, conditions for contractors and outsourcing concerns?

Disclaimer: I am pro unions for services that are needed but cannot operate in the manner of a traditional capitalistic model like teaching and nursing. I am anti-union when it comes to goods and services that are not a critical need for society and should survive by their own objective merit and quality.

As a software developer myself, wouldn't unions exacerbate outsourcing concerns? I mean the whole point of what a picket line and a scab was centered around the fact that unionized workers that went on strike would have to physically stop workers from accessing the factory floor to work for less than the unionized workers. I would think that if developers did this, the picket line would be virtual and foreign or even out of state developers would find it easy to work remotely to fulfill the customer's needs. So could someone explain to me how a union could address outsourcing concerns? I think a union would make a potential development house shy away from going local for fear that they would have to deal with a union and then once in that position would not be able to go elsewhere for development work.

Teaching operates just fine without unions (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41882581)

Home schooling, charter schools, private schools - all these things operate well and better than public schools, all without unions.

Unions are decimating the performance and respect for public schools. Time to get them out of the way if you want to really improve educations for the millions that cannot afford private school, or live an an area too backwards to support charter schools.

Re:Teaching operates just fine without unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882603)

Unions are decimating the performance and respect for public schools.

They're cutting it down by 10%? Sounds like we have bigger fish to fry then!

Re:Wouldn't This Exacerbate Outsourcing Concerns? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#41882801)

I mean the whole point of what a picket line and a scab was centered around the fact that unionized workers that went on strike would have to physically stop workers from accessing the factory floor to work for less than the unionized workers.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't this been illegal for quite some time? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's usually not tolerated.

Missed one... (5, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 years ago | (#41882333)

while traditional unions are incapable of advocating for what developers care about most while at work: autonomy and self-management

They missed one other one: Unions are also incapable of supporting performance-based rewards and promotion, something tech sector workers appreciate. The notion that seniority trumps all else would not go over well in my workplace, nor former workplaces.

Outsourced (2)

kstatefan40 (922281) | about 2 years ago | (#41882335)

I can't think of a faster way to send more development jobs to China/India than to unionize. Globalization largely blocks the benefit of unionizing in our industry, whether you are for or against unions is beside the point.

Companies that hire here value a level of service and language skill as a cost of doing business. You start reducing the cost-benefit of that relationship, and they will start shipping more jobs overseas.

Union Attempts in the Past (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882353)

Unions have been attempted in the past for IT personel. There is a reason they always fail. That reason is the general Union mentality that a degree is required to do anything high level. Many high level people in IT currently have no degree, or got the degree while already in the workplace.

That is just one reason. There are many others. Myself, yes I know I am posting anonymous, I do not support unions in IT. As the only degree I have is a G.E.D. and 21 years experience.

Why would I want an 'average' pay rise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882357)

As a freelance IT guy I get to set my own rates, and if the client is not willing to pay I move on. Even when I was a 'permie' I operated by the same rules - Pay me what you think I'm worth, and if that isn't what I think I'm worth I will move on.

How exactly would a union help me here?

yuck - why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882385)

yuck - i've worked places with unions (not as a developer but as a system administrator) and it was positively the worst experience. the best jobs go to those with the most seniority instead of the most talented and your pay is well defined ahead of time by a schedule based again on your seniority. also the most senior people are the people who haven't minded working under these parameters and therefore were all terrible. it was the most demotivating place I've ever worked. no thanks.

Nobody wants a union. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882387)

So, your boss and/or company sucks and it drains all the happiness from you to have to get up everyday and go to work. The solution is NOT to add another complete F'ed up level of douches to your world. If you do, you will have your boss and/or company PLUS a bunch of weak, whingers dragging you down.

I AM a software dev. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882389)

I am paid well, have a decent benefit package, and have had this through multiple different jobs. I can tell employers I'm not interested if they don't have a good benefit package, and will have employers knocking at my door in a few days.

If someone approached me asking me to unionize, I'd tell them to go fuck themselves. I like working with competent people, thank you very much. Unions always attract the incompetent.

Union Programmers (5, Interesting)

bhlowe (1803290) | about 2 years ago | (#41882395)

I know programmers who work for my county that are unionized. Imagine a process where seniority and not coding ability determines who works on a project.

Imagine a union that helped get the best workers on a project and making the most. A union that helped weed out the lazy, the incompetent, and the criminals. That would be a union that most people would not oppose.. unfortunately the opposite is true: seniority rules, criminals are coddled, lawsuits are filed, work slowdowns are part of the union bag of tricks.

Unions have no place for the programming industry.. except in government where we expect cost overruns and shoddy results. To start a programming union would be to hasten the outsourcing of your job. Besides, programming jobs are one of the most in-demand careers out there. If you can't make good money without a union, you should bone up on your skills.

Councils not Unions (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41882401)

I reject the idea of unions for IT professionals. I wholeheartedly agree with belonging to professional groups (they seem to be pretty rare) for sharing information and organizing informally. I don't see lawyer's unions or doctor's unions and don't see the need for IT unions.

Re:Councils not Unions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882477)

Thanks for that.

I'm pretty anti-union, but a member of the IEEE. People occasionally say "isn't that a union", to which I answer, "No. It is not. Not even fucking close."

Count me out (1)

Zengaku (1859062) | about 2 years ago | (#41882403)

Sure I want higher pay. I'll earn that pay thanks. Work environment and coworkers are huge factors to me. And I don't think those would be maximized in a union environment. At all. Please don't drag us down to mediocrity.

It depends on the programming language (5, Funny)

jejones (115979) | about 2 years ago | (#41882407)

In C, it's pretty simple, though of course if you want a discriminated union you'll probably end up stuffing it into a struct along with a field that tells you how to interpret the union.

High Job Availability = no need for a union. (2)

redemtionboy (890616) | about 2 years ago | (#41882409)

Why would I want to belong to a union when the most of the power is on the developer's side? There's not enough developers to go around and thus plenty of job availability. Unions are meant to solidify workers rights in a situation where labor is plentiful, but that's nowhere near the case. Companies fight over us. I just made a decision between 3 offers this week to accept a new job. The power was in my hand.

Re:High Job Availability = no need for a union. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882591)

I just made a decision between 3 offers this week to accept a new job.

Save every penny you can. Bank at least 60% of your pay. Drive that car until it hits at east 200,000 miles. Pack your IRA until the IRS groans.

Enjoy it while you can, sonny, because it won't last.

Barriers to entry (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#41882413)

Traditional manufacturing had huge barriers to entry. You needed to buy millions of dollars worth of equipment before your factory could actually produce anything. That meant the labor market was captive, creating a pressure for labor to unionize.

Software development has almost no barriers to entry. You need a computer, some development tools, and network access. These are easily within reach of any developer (and in fact any developer who loves what they do will already own these for "recreational coding" at home). If you're in software development and are unhappy with the level of autonomy and self-management your employer gives you, simply quit and start your own company.

Re:Barriers to entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882769)

If you're in software development and are unhappy with the level of autonomy and self-management your employer gives you, simply quit and start your own company.

And get sued for violating someone's linked-list patent.

Large Libertarian Contingent (2)

Alternate Interior (725192) | about 2 years ago | (#41882429)

Think software has a larger block of Libertarians than most other office workers. /. had a poll last week [slashdot.org] showing Dems and Libertarians in a neck-and-neck race for the biggest political block. Libertarians and Unions don't line up terribly neatly. That's going to be a quick roadblock to any attempt to unionize.

No, never (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882453)

The two things unions cannot avoid are maximizing the number of members they have, even if they are underskilled, incompetent, or underperformers, and internal corruption.

Technical unions? I don't think so! (5, Interesting)

miltonw (892065) | about 2 years ago | (#41882513)

Today, unions exist to protect jobs - meaning that a poorly performing worker is protected and cannot be fired.

Technical people admire knowledge, ability and competence above anything else. And they are disgusted by incompetence, which makes everybody's work more difficult.

The idea of actually protecting incompetence (via unions) goes against the whole technical culture. No, unions are not coming to the development community.

Yea! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882519)

As a slightly less than mediocre software developer I am tired of my more skilled and harder working colleagues getting better raises and quicker promotions than I do. I've even been here longer than most of them.

Step 1 (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41882537)

Sell your soul.

Kidding aside, im not saying unions are bad, as they do have their value in some situations, but they dont need to be in every industry. They raise costs and complexity for companies, governments, consumers as well as the employees. Often times they run small companies out of business due to the overhead, and can easily price a 'contract programer' on his own right out of the market.

"coding" is one of those industries that i feel is best left alone. ( and no, i no longer do it for a living, so i dont have a vested interest )

THE REAL "STEP #1"... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882735)

http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3231867&cid=41882605

(FOR REAL!)

APK

P.S.=> That's step #1 for ANY 'fledgeling' NEW union trying to establish itself - you need EXISTING UNION SPONSORSHIP! Now that TRUTH is out, on HOW to do it? There you go...

... apk

A lot more able developers (3, Insightful)

curunir (98273) | about 2 years ago | (#41882547)

Unions exist in situations where management is negotiating from a place of power and replacement workers are easy to find. They allow the collective workforce to get a better deal than they would individually.

Meanwhile, there is a shortage of capable developers and we have the power in most negotiations. Why do we need a union if we can just demand what we want and get it? In our industry, companies have even been caught uniting against workers [techcrunch.com] .

Unions are a tool and developers are taught to us the right tool for the job. When the situation demands a union, we'll unionize, but there's no point in doing that until there are a ton more capable developers to compete with for jobs.

what for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882553)

Why would developers need unions? We have fantastic work conditions, we get paid very well in comparison to the people around us, and we can pick between a plethora of jobs. Furthermore, we are not tied to a geographic location, as farctory workers are. I fear that my own quality of life would go down as a function of union creation. Why would one want to push this 19th century concept into the 21st century work place. If I don't like the work conditions where I am, I quit and I have another job as soon as I want one. Take your union corruption and stick it somewhere obscure please.

Re:what for? (1)

tgd (2822) | about 2 years ago | (#41882727)

Why would developers need unions? We have fantastic work conditions, we get paid very well in comparison to the people around us, and we can pick between a plethora of jobs. Furthermore, we are not tied to a geographic location, as farctory workers are. I fear that my own quality of life would go down as a function of union creation. Why would one want to push this 19th century concept into the 21st century work place. If I don't like the work conditions where I am, I quit and I have another job as soon as I want one. Take your union corruption and stick it somewhere obscure please.

The lousy developers who think their skills are worth dramatically more than they are want the unions. Unions lower everyone to the lowest common denominator. They protect the incompetent at the expense of the competent.

I think a vast number of developers would benefit, if they could get shops unionized. Most developers are well south of competent at their jobs. That said, the ones who are good have the clout -- they'd be promoted into development management positions (avoiding the unions), and a smart company would fire the rest and outsource at the first hint of it.

When to Join a Union (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41882557)

The reason to join a union is because it will give you real benefit. I absolutely support unions and am grateful for all the hard work they've done in the past, but it's something to be practical about. You don't join a union because of some ideological theory, you join because you want some benefit.

My grandpa joined a union because he got something like a 20% pay increase and more benefits. Would I join a union to achieve that? Yes, I would, and I would happily pay dues because they would be worth it to me.

Am I going to join a union that only takes my dues, and doesn't even fight for me when I get wrongfully fired (hello, AT&T union)? No, I am not.

Developers Union Has No Reason to Exist (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about 2 years ago | (#41882567)

I only see a Developers Union as working as a Guild Style Union where you could maintain your skills and receive a status, like Journeyman, so the union would have a right to argue for or against hiring. However, this function is being served with "certifications". I don't particular like the certification process but it is serving the function that the a union used to fill prior to it just being just about wages and benefits. If a union could maintain it's members skills better and had a better reputation than the current certification process then a "kind" of Union could be established. This kind of union would be where Employers would go to find skilled workers, and would be better for it not to call itself a Union since that tends to scare employers.

developer union == FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882575)

A developer union would be terrible.

Software engineers today compete based on their own merits. There are plenty of things to distinguish developer A from developer B. Unions are needed (?) in industries where the members are interchangeable parts -- like factory line workers. So, I contend that the only people who want a developer union should be those people who are unable to distinguish themselves from their peers on their merits -- i.e. those people who cannot effectively compete in the job marketplace.

And given the fact that there are more jobs than people to fill them right now, if you think you need a union to help you get *any* job benefits as software developer, you must be really really mediocre, or really really junior. (The first case may be uncurable -- you should find another job in another industry. The second case usually resolves with time -- generally far *less* time for motivated and talented individuals than in other industries. A very talented new grad can move into a "senior" role usually with just a few years of experience.)

In other spaces (teacher's unions here in CA for example), unions are actually actively harmful to the industry they serve. The teacher's unions fight against merit based pay, preferring seniority over all. The end result is that CA pays more for teachers that have established a long history of mediocrity, whereas the best teachers seek jobs in private schooling because there is more money to be had there and more rewards for excellence.

To sum up: a developer's union will only help two groups: mediocre developers who cannot compete on their own merits, and union leaders who will always take a skim off the top. I see no reason to reward either group.

be careful what you wish for, it may come true (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41882577)

Union jobs are set in contract
you sign a contract to work for X number of days per year, you have to work that number of days. in the office.
you sign a contract to arrive at a specific time? you arrive.

if your kids get sick a lot during the year? too bad, hire a baby sitter or take vacation day. no working from home. contract says in the office.
hurricane hit NYC? too bad, get in the office.
kids' school schedule changes? too bad, hire a sitter.

the union negotiated a low copay health plan but the doctors suck or no one takes it? too bad. most people only care what they see in front of them so no good doctor for you. people don't like paying copays

i much prefer a lower pay job with the luxury of telecommuting if my kids get sick or when i have to pick them up at 3PM from school. and i like my kids doctor who just happens to be chief of pediatrics at the local hospital and calls in to the ER to hurry the process up

A Union Would Address "Disposability" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882583)

I've been a developer for 30 years. I've had the experience of getting cut from a team for underperforming on a few occasions, in spite of being an incredible performer in general. When life gets complicated and work isn't the only priority, my output might go down and if that happens, we can be cut without a second thought. I think a union would help us negotiate the kind of contracts where we can have a life and work balance, and where we can be superstars at times and just journeymen at times, and not be treated as so easily replaced. I'd love the possibility of being a union developer.

1st - YOU NEED UNION SPONSORSHIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882605)

My father is a former UAW Union President, & he "filled me in" on it, per my subject-line above... He even asked ME if I was interested - I sure am, HOWEVER: I, personally, am NOT INTERESTED in becoming another Mr. Jimmy Hoffa either!

Since, face it - You "stick your neck out there" for your fellow man, vs. "the powers that be" (the 1%'ers that don't work for their monies, their monies WORK FOR THEM)?

You run THAT risk!

Man, point-blank:

They just "erase" you...

Unlike the "mob" who was a GOOD THING for the working class in THIS VERY CAPACITY (backing them with "muscle" vs. those that can essentially BUY "justice" & courts-of-law - since, truth is? There aren't courts for the EXTREMELY wealthy - they own them AND policiticians galore!)

Since the 'mob' is NOW 'eroded' since they got "rich & fat" & no longer NEED TO DO THAT to have nice lives? The wealthy won't just "dust you", they aren't "built" like that - they attempt to "negotiate" with you, first (buy you out, in other words, & corrupt you)).

* See subject-line above though... that's "STEP #1"!

APK

P.S.=> It's how new unions are formed - & yes, you need that "initial backing" @ 1st, afaik, from a Union Person telling me so... unless you guys know differently? THAT is how it is done, "STEP #1"...

I'd LOVE TO SEE IT, I just don't have THAT kind of courage is all....

... apk

It will happen when conditions get bad enough. (3, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#41882615)

Communism may have failed, but class warfare is alive and well. A worldwide depression, or even that of a few nations like the USA, India China or Europe would probably kick start a move to unions. I have no doubt that even if wages were to drop to Bangladesh levels, that prices on most items in these countries wouldn't budge downward very much. Price structure and wage structure are increasingly out of sync. At a certain point, when nobody in IT is making enough to live on, unionization will occur, along with a the sharpening of some makerbot printed guillotines. The speed with which "libertarians" become socialists will be quite amusing.

It will take a hole in the head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882649)

Programmers that want to "unionize" are usually shitty programmers or shitty businessmen/businesswomen.

If you don't like your working conditions, own up to it and quit. Get out of your comfort zone.

If you can't find a job as a programmer you probably don't deserve one, there is such a treasure-trove of work out there right now, more than ever before.

Don't bog down our industry with a bunch of dated, low-class powerplay bullshit.

we need a trades based learning system for IT / te (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882711)

we need a trades based learning system for IT / tech

Will I get agitated? (1)

micahraleigh (2600457) | about 2 years ago | (#41882715)

The thought of getting agitated for taking a job or having my pocket picked is a major turnoff for me.

It depends (1)

cpghost (719344) | about 2 years ago | (#41882761)

On one hand, I could imagine that some developers may want to unionize, if there are way too many of them and if they feel like they are being easily replaced. Like, say, HTML, PHP, JavaScript and perhaps even Java... code monkeys whose jobs are being outsourced to India (no offense please). On the other hand, I can't imagine specialized and highly specialized developers whose skills are in high demand to unionize. That would effectively reduce their marketability.

Just not the right industry for it (1)

rbrander (73222) | about 2 years ago | (#41882771)

Please skip all the unions-are-evil vs owners-are-evil arguments. They're irrelevant.

Unions work -and are generally necessary - when everybody does the same thing. If everybody is an interchangeable part of (typically) an assembly line or repetitive job like resource extraction, then anybody can be replaced, and people get treated like machines. And unions can strike for compensation and conditions that are the same - or at least, based on the same formula - for all those doing comparable work.

But while large bureaucracies invariably attempt to bring in assembly-line "development methodologies", development just isn't coal-mining. There's a much larger dynamic range in the amount of (good, productive) code a developer can produce in a day vs the amount of coal you can mine, so narrow pay ranges are inappropriate. And developers are not so interchangeable - a good one threatening to quit gets more than a shrug from the boss.

What you need is not a union, but a pressure group aimed at shutting down H-1B abuses. That's quite a straightforward goal.

No Unions.. We need a confederacy (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | about 2 years ago | (#41882781)

A confederation is a more loose alliance among independent knowledge professionals. Bargaining would be left up to the individual, but the organization would offer unemployment assurance through Union dues. The best off all possible worlds. Highly Optimal Opportunity Topology. H.O.O.T!

We don't need a union (2)

cfulton (543949) | about 2 years ago | (#41882805)

We need a better set of qualifications for the job. Engineers don't have a union but they won't let you design a bridge unless you are an engineer. The current "Computer Science" major does not make a qualified developer. Reading c++ or java in a weekend does not make a good developer. Yet companies hire these people and allow them to create big balls of mud that don't work. We need apprenticeships and a way to communicate what level a developer is to the "lay" community. Sr Developer and Web Guru are not the same thing to you and I, but from the outside it sounds like that Guru is the guy to go with. I'm not sure how we do this, but the profession really needs it. As a consultant I've worked with a number of companies that when I got there didn't even have reasonable source control, and the developers were didn't have any knowledge of "SOP" in the industry. We need a way to differentiate in the business community between professional programmer and somebody who can type into an IDE.

Organising requires social skills (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41882817)

So no unions in IT.

The largest requirement for developer unions is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882819)

A sharp drop in the intelligence of the developer community.

Join the Confederacy of Independent Programmers! (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | about 2 years ago | (#41882825)

Outriders welcome! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHAWWW! Down with the MBA Yankee boys!

Last one to meet me at the Death Star trench programs in PASCAL!

The snarky answer is... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41882827)

Some baseball bats, ice picks, the occasional incendiary device.

And it will be all for naught, because as soon as you unionize, you will be outsourced. And the people still doing the job who are still in this country will be the ones who have programming, organization, and communication skills not found in offshore development. And don't belong to a union. In the current business environment, unions only work for people who must be on-site, or are adequately politically connected. Or both.

The need for unions (1)

kwiqsilver (585008) | about 2 years ago | (#41882841)

Unions exist to cartelize the work force, limiting its numbers, which artificially inflates pay. That's why unions have been against child labor, female labor, non-union labor, etc.
In the software engineering field, we already have a very limited workforce, so no need for a union.

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882845)

What moron wrote that? I'll take higher pay over autonomy and self-management any day, please. Today would be fantastic.

Agents, not unions (2)

ldbapp (1316555) | about 2 years ago | (#41882847)

What tech talent needs are agents, not unions. That is people to represent them in negotiations who are skilled at negotiating, and motivated to get a good deal. Very much like entertainers (actors, singers, sports stars). The agents focus on the "business" while the talent focuses on delivering value. This is especially true in job interviewing situations, especially when interviewing with a company that has a HR department. They have advantages in that interaction that are unbalanced. I personally would love to have an agent. The idea has it's hurdles, but no more so than the idea of starting a union.

the real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41882849)

what would it take to get them to agree on anything?

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