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LinkedIn Busted In Wage Theft Investigation

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the sudden-outbreak-of-workers-rights dept.

Businesses 108

fiannaFailMan (702447) writes that LinkedIn was just fined for the all too common practice of requiring workers to work off the clock Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, LinkedIn has agreed to pay over $3 million in overtime back wages and $2.5 million in liquidated damages to 359 former and current employees working at company branches in four states. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires companies to have record-keeping systems in place to record overtime hours worked and to ensure that employees are paid for those hours, requirements that the company was not meeting.

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Need to hire more H1b's (2, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#47606049)

H1b's just do the OT with out makeing a big deal and if they quit or get fired they have to go home right away so they don't rock the boat and they will take pay that is like $10K less then what most US workers want to start at the base level for all kinds of work.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606103)

They also refuse to fritter away valuable keystrokes and time on trivial things, like punctuation.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (-1, Troll)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 months ago | (#47606115)

They also refuse to fritter away valuable keystrokes and time on trivial things, like punctuation.

tl;dr

Re: Need to hire more H1b's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607703)

tldr

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606171)

Would you like a little cheese with that whine?

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606299)

Would you like a brain cell to go with the one you have?

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (1, Interesting)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 3 months ago | (#47606287)

H1b's just do the OT with out makeing a big deal and if they quit or get fired they have to go home if they cannot find a new job and complete the transfer within 30 days after being fired (which is very likely to be the case).

You are correct about not rocking the boat, but I corrected the sentence for you.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (3, Informative)

praxis (19962) | about 3 months ago | (#47607373)

H1b's just do the OT with out makeing a big deal and if they quit or get fired they have to go home if they cannot find a new job and complete the transfer within 30 days after being fired (which is very likely to be the case).

You are correct about not rocking the boat, but I corrected the sentence for you.

The poster you "corrected" appears to be more correct than your correction. According to Klasko (I tried for ten minutes to find the relevant document on dhs.gov), there is no 30-day period. The visa status ends immediately and the employer must arrange travel back to the country of origin. In practice, a new H1-B petition *might* be approved by the government but it appears there is no grace period, it is at the whims of the petition reviewer.

If an employer terminates an H1-B employee before the end of that employee’s period of authorized stay, the employer is liable for the “reasonable costs” of return transportation for the employee to his or her last country of residence.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no “10-day,” “30-day” or other grace period for terminated employees holding H-1B status. Once the employment relationship terminates, the H-1B employee is out of status. While USCIS has proposed a 60-day period within which an H-1B worker may seek new employment, that period remains only a proposal.

From: http://www.klaskolaw.com/artic... [klaskolaw.com]

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (1)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about 3 months ago | (#47608163)

I see. Thanks for the correction.

Anyway, you could read more on possibility of staying without being sent back on http://www.uscis.gov/tools/omb... [uscis.gov] which said that the person may be granted a time period to stay and find a new job if the person files I129 before the termination notice. Also, the 10-day grace period is from termination by expiring employment time period.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (1)

praxis (19962) | about 3 months ago | (#47608775)

That link you supply seems to agree that it is an exception that *may* be granted. I speak mostly of the case with no advance notice since with advance notice, it is pretty easy (assuming there are other companies that want the worker) to have an H-1B transferred. The 10-day period after an H-1B expires does not seem to apply in the case of termination before visa expiration.

It goes without saying that this is a complicated area of law and there are a lot of myths and/or misinformation surrounding our visas. As always, talk to a lawyer.

An H-1B nonimmigrant is admitted to be employed by the sponsoring H-1B petitioner. If the employment ends, this condition is no longer satisfied and the individual is no longer in a lawful nonimmigrant status and may be subject to removal proceedings. Therefore, the terminated H-1B nonimmigrant in this scenario may not be able to port to another employer, subject to certain discretionary exceptions.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606449)

That really makes no sense. Most of the jobs H1Bs are hired for are already exempt under FLSA and thus are not legally required to be paid overtime anyway.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 months ago | (#47606743)

That really makes no sense. Most of the jobs H1Bs are hired for are already exempt under FLSA and thus are not legally required to be paid overtime anyway.

Most of the are hired for jobs that the company SAYS are exempt under FLSA, but most of them are hired for jobs that are NOT exempt under FLSA, just like the rest of us.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 months ago | (#47606773)

Actually I would say it is time to move more work into other countries.

Re:Need to hire more H1b's (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 months ago | (#47607971)

It's not in the article, but the story I heard was that these were sales force employees that were short changed. Not the sort of job commonly given to foreign workers. The hints about Silicon Valley and LinkedIn make it seem like these were tech workers, most of which do not get overtime anyway.

Go figure. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606087)

For Silicon Valley Companies, perma-temping and hiring H1B's is part of their business practice, and crap like this is written into unofficial cost of risk reports to execs.

"High Reliability, High Availability, High Productivity through Meat Grinding."

The underlying cost of perma-temping is you communicate to individuals who otherwise are worth it to invest in, or who want to invest in themselves, that they are not worth it to invest in only to be exploited, and that you as a company are not worth it to work for. Obviously, if you're an insecure executive manager, keeping the bar low is optimal.

Remember, This comes on the heels of their entire customer password database being taken off with 2 years back and that feeding spamming and other sideband attacks for years and years. So you know they have significant technical debt.

In Illinois, where I work, it's a misdemeanor for each offense of this, and a felony if you commit enough of them. Problem is the corrupt politics.

Doesn't really matter at the end of the day though, because companies who engage in this sort of practice get known and get black listed by the competent.

Re:Go figure. (5, Insightful)

swb (14022) | about 3 months ago | (#47606495)

While this makes sense in simple, easy to type in Excel, dollars and cents numbers, how is it good for productivity?

Nearly every place I've ever worked where the company appears more interested in exploitation the quality of work suffers. The really talented people leave. The decent people do a lot less and the crappy people even manage to be even crappier.

The quality of the work product sucks.

Re:Go figure. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606721)

This is what happens in a lot of government agencies. It's a one-two punch from a public that treats all government employees as lazy pieces of shit and entrenched management that are lazy pieces of shit. When the line level employee is faced with this atmosphere, and the ongoing political attacks on their compensation, there's no reason to stay. All but the most ideologically dedicated with real skills and qualifications eventually leave their government job for one with better pay and less political heat. What's left is the few who really do the work, and the many lazy pieces of shit who would never get a job anywhere else. Making the atmosphere for government workers even more toxic is not going to attract better workers. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Re:Go figure. (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 3 months ago | (#47606931)

Agreed and I'm guessing the talented people that left weren't responsible for this screw-up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Go figure. (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 3 months ago | (#47607307)

The really talented people leave. The decent people do a lot less and the crappy people even manage to be even crappier. The quality of the work product sucks.

Yet management somehow still gets their bonuses, so who gives a fuck?

Re:Go figure. (1)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | about 3 months ago | (#47607673)

The decent people do a lot less and the crappy people even manage to be even crappier.

The decent people do a lot less and the crappy people even manage to get promoted.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Go figure. (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#47607803)

The really talented people leave.

That happened at LinkedIn years ago.

I had a phone interview with them once, and I cut it short. The guy interviewing me was in no way qualified to ever be my boss.

-jcr

Re:Go figure. (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#47606603)

And losing less than $6m over it works out to be a smokin' deal.

It seems that if they don't get caught, they save money, and if they do get caught, they just have to pay the wages that were due, which is no big deal.

Re:Go figure. (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 3 months ago | (#47606649)

For Silicon Valley Companies, perma-temping and hiring H1B's is part of their business practice,

Indeed. A company that was at one time known for it's test and measurement equipment and pioneered the laserjet printer space routinely hires temporary (contracted through temp agencies) labor for permanent manufacturing positions which is illegal. Since the law in question [dol.gov] prohibits temporary labor from occupying a position for more than a 12 month period this company lays off the entire manufacturing line the last week of the year only to recreate the positions the very next week.

How Google Trains Their Recruiters - Old IT Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607263)

The phone rang, middle of Monday morning.

The caller ID said 'Google'. I answered the phone. A slick voice told me that they were calling, because they wanted to interview me for a few positions they had open - but, because they were very busy, they scheduled their activities a week in advance, and so they were calling me, now, to set a call, only fifteen minutes long, next week - on Wednesday, ten days in the future - to discuss a few openings he had.

I agreed, not because I believed what this smooth-talking fellow told me - anyone can program their phone switch to say 'Google' - but because I wanted to see what he was selling. I suggested that he send me an email, confirming this appointment. He said he would.

Tuesday passed, with no email. I started thinking about cold-calling the number on the caller ID, just to see if I could get a name.

Wednesday morning, I saw an email confirming the appointment:

 

You have been invited to the following event.

Title: Richard/Google

When: Wed Aug 6, 2014 9am - 9:25am Pacific Time

Calendar: David N.

Who:


        * David N. - organizer


        * Jasmine B.

I asked:

 

Confirmed.

Is there an agenda?

Is there a job description?

Whom is Jasmine Brown?

'David' replied:

 

Great questions! Jasmine Brown is someone I am training on my team,

regarding the position I have a few different ones to share with you.

The Teams are You Tube, Cloud, Apps, Geo, Earth and a few others.

Look forward to chatting.

At this point I did some research on my interviewer-to-be.

I was not too surprised to discover that my would-be interlocutor was a salesman - his voice had oozed superficiality from its very first syllable.

He even had a degree in marketing, from the University of Florida. as online sales manager, he claimed to be 'Responsible for Worldwide Online sales for fashion beauty products'.

In 2011 - just a few years ago - he'd started selling, for another company, using Google, and apparently he'd done quite well.

So, naturally, this led to his switching careers entirely, in January of 2014, and becoming a technical recruiter.

WTF, Google? I thought you were smart.

How do you expect a salesman to hire an engineer?

I began to wonder if this was a training exercise.

I asked Bozo, right out front, like a good engineer, what was going on:

 

David,

You know, when you called me, out of the blue, Monday, I sort of got the impression you were doing so not because you had selected me yourself, but, rather, because someone had asked - perhaps ordered - you to do so.

It almost sounded like you were calling me while that person was watching you, to be sure that you would call me - I say this because, basically, you called me, to tell me that you wanted to call me, a week and a half in the future, to talk to me, for fifteen minutes, about some positions that obviously weren't that urgent.

I'm leery when there aren't any job descriptions. My BS meter starts peggin', as we say in the engineering business.

So, I'm looking at your LinkedIn profile - http://www.linkedin.com/pub/david-naylor/2b/563/7 - and I'm at a loss as to why we are going to have a conversation.

Correct me if I'm wrong. You're a salesman. As a salesman, you have sold your employers on letting you become a recruiter.

Presumably there is more money to be made in recruiting. Why else would you switch, after seven years? Perhaps congratulations are in order - presuming, of course, that the switch in careers leads to value being added, to both parties.

That's between you and your employer, I suppose.

Many CEOs are former salesmen. There are good reasons why one might want one's chief executive officer to possess sales experience, I suppose.

It's not so clear why one would want this sort of expertise when recruiting software or hardware engineers, however.

What could we possibly have to talk about? Forgive me for asking. But I don't do SEO. I haven't worked extensively with Google's products. We seem to have nothing in common. I work at a much lower level.

Have you been assigned to SELL me on the experience of working for Google?

You only have seven months of experience as a recruiter. I surmise that Jasmine Brown has even less experience - I infer that she is the newest member of your team.

Don't you have anyone more technically competent to interview me?

Is interviewing me considered a waste of their valuable time?

Is this just a training exercise for the newest HR flunkie, er, ah, 'recruiter'?

Are you being punished?

Is it a combination of several of the above?

(Life is usually like that.)

I gotta be honest.

I'm not interested in another battery of wanna-be MENSA admission tests.

It's juvenile. Puerile. Prepubescent. Infantile. It reeks of insecurity and inexperience. I feel like I am 12 years old again, and have been thrown into the pages of Readers' Digest.

Maybe you ought to administer those stress-test-relationship-to-destruction tests, in person - enough black eyes, enough 911 calls, enough broken windows, and maybe Google HR will get the message - it's offensive.

If you're testing for my willingness to subordinate myself to someone half my age and grovel for a job at Google, nothing has changed.

Just mark me 'insubordinate' and move on to the next candidate.

Let's just agree that I'm not smart enough to work for Google - never mind that thirty years' experience. No college degree. You know what THAT means. Autodidactic! Like Edward Snowden! Beware! Beware! May be honest!

We can all save ourselves fifteen minutes, by skipping this interview. That's my take on things.

If Google really wanted to SELL me on the idea of working there, all they would need to do is make a sincere offer of long-term employment supporting interesting projects - backed up by some contractual language that insured that there were penalties for changing their corporate mind - and I'm sure there would be no lack of useful things, crying out to be done, that I would quickly assume responsibility for.

Exercise some of that salesmanship. Persuade me you are not wasting my time.

Here's what I got back from this weak sister of a recruiter:

 

I was just reaching out to explore a conversation to see if there was any

interest in a couple of the openings we have available right now.

Thank you for your time and I wish you all the best.

I'm wondering whose brother-in-law David is.

So, the next time someone tells you they are a Google employee ... don't be too impressed.

And the next time a recruiter calls you, from Google, and tells you they want to talk to you about a position ... be prepared for the fact that they may not be telling you the truth.

Be prepared for the fact that they may be using you, like a showroom dummy, to test a new approach towards interviewing younger, less sophisticated, less mature, far cheaper candidates - without compensation or even letting you know that the whole transaction is fraudulent, from the very beginning.

The SMS I sent to my wife after I got the first call, says it all:

 

I have a phone interview with Google next week. My God. A Google employee actually SPOKE to me. For a whole minute! I feel so SPECIAL.

Re:How Google Trains Their Recruiters - Old IT Guy (1)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#47607841)

I'm not interested in another battery of wanna-be MENSA admission tests.

I never interviewed at Google, because I know several first-rate developers that got screened out by those hoop-jumping exercises. I have one friend there who asked me several times to apply, but he couldn't tell me what he was working on. Turned out his project was Google Earth. Might have been interesting to work on, but I think I did much better for myself and my career by going to Apple.

-jcr

Re:How Google Trains Their Recruiters - Old IT Guy (1)

paiute (550198) | about 3 months ago | (#47607935)

Might have been interesting to work on, but I think I did much better for myself and my career by going to Apple.

-jcr

First world problems?

Re:How Google Trains Their Recruiters - Old IT Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608659)

I think I did much better for myself and my career by going to Apple.

My experience with Apple recruiting left a lot to be desired. They called me, set up a phone interview, and then canceled that interview, by email, about two minutes before the call was supposed to start. I was waiting for the call and not watching email, so it took me half an hour to realize what happened. Then they emailed twice more saying they'd try to schedule a new interview, and then went completely silent, never following up or replying to my polite inquiry as to what was going on. My brother works there and seems to like it, but I was seriously unimpressed by the entire interaction.

color me surprised (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606093)

big shocker here... asshole companies that do asshole things to their customers also do asshole things to their employees.
I'm glad they got caught, but I have little sympathy for collaborators (people who take jobs at evil corps).

Ooh, get tough... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47606105)

It must be neat to be eligible for the section of the justice system where merely fulfilling your past obligations and agreeing to try harder next time is enough to get an official press release praising your integrity, never mind the absence of any actual penalty...

Re:Ooh, get tough... (2)

Joel Cahoon (2906501) | about 3 months ago | (#47606229)

$3,346,195 in overtime back wages and $2,509,646 in liquidated damages

The later is the penalty. Slap on the wrist? You bet.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (5, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 3 months ago | (#47606441)

Pirate mp3's? Pay damages of up to 600.000 times the cost of the album.
Don't pay $3M in wages? Pay damages of less than the amount owed.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 3 months ago | (#47606855)

hey - if you want to be treated with the dignity and fairness due to a human being, stop whining and just incorporate.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606941)

Want public assistance, get drug tested in Florida and Georgia.

Defense contractors want foreign aide which is linked to weapons purchases from their own companies, no drug testing.

I could go on. I think there's an inverse relationship between drug testing and those who can AFFORD the drugs. Are they onto something or just trying to make poor people better suited for Heaven. LinkedIn execs are going to need witness protection in the afterlife.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 months ago | (#47606987)

And THIS, pals, is why the screaming about regulations is so damn stupid.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

x_t0ken_407 (2716535) | about 3 months ago | (#47606993)

SMFH. Seems legit. Eventually, at some point, us plebians have to get fed up with it right? I mean, we just MUST have a breaking point, right?

Re:Ooh, get tough... (2)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 months ago | (#47608223)

Eventually, at some point, us plebians have to get fed up with it right? I mean, we just MUST have a breaking point, right?

And then what? Revolution? You know how that'll end - meet the new boss, the same as the old boss. It's because the new boss what taught what it means to be a boss by the old boss. Just like LinkedIn's leadership was taught that making money is the most valuable thing, and just like the slap on the wrist they received as a nominal punishment confirms that they have indeed correctly discerned and internalized society's values, so their only real crime was getting caught.

People's internalized value systems and patterns of behaviour interpret information and suggest actions just like inherent biological instincts do. Acting out these impulses then demonstrates these models to any onlookers, who'll eventually internalize them in turn. Abused people often become abusers, because they have the model and only need to switch roles. Similarly, current world culture has as a central model constant abuse of the weak by the powerful, and has been for who knows how many millenia. It's so endemic it's become more or less synonymous with "human nature", and keeps on being imprinted on every new generation, even in nominally free societies.

So no, us plebeians reaching our breaking point wouldn't change anything. The basic assumptions on the system are inside us - specifically that some people are plebeian and some patrician - so we'd simply rebuild it with some role reassignments. The only way to break free is to recognize these internalized diseased structures in yourself, systematically eradicate them by ignoring their promptings so they fade away, and let your new behaviour re-socialize the people around you by contradicting their internalized systems of abuse. But of course, that means giving up the quest for money and power, and simultaneously making yourself the mortal enemy of an entire world culture built on a fundamentally insane basis, so historically such quests have ended very, very badly.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 3 months ago | (#47606307)

Maybe since linkedin is such a useless website that's making no money, the judge thought continuing to exist was punishment enough.

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 3 months ago | (#47606923)

Maybe since linkedin is such a useless website that's making no money, the judge thought continuing to exist was punishment enough.

And yet their stock is selling for over $200 a share...

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

DamnOregonian (963763) | about 3 months ago | (#47608689)

I'm certain I don't have to explain free-market speculation bubbles to you... Right?

Re:Ooh, get tough... (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 3 months ago | (#47608057)

The hard part on the prosecution side is proving that the accused took deliberate malicious action as opposed to just screwing up. Part of agreements like these is that accused now stipulates that the action was wrong and they will ensure that they don't repeat it. This means that the next time they do it---and you know they will--- the prosecution pulls out the accused's own stipulation as the evidence that they are deliberately doing something wrong, either a deliberate violation or a deliberate failure to check. I.e. they get the accused to prove the case.

If only we had a union (5, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#47606113)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606141)

What kind of a pencil is a 1HB?

Re:If only we had a union (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606285)

A thick black one normally.

Re:If only we had a union (2)

paysonwelch (2505012) | about 3 months ago | (#47606419)

That's actually the 8B The 1HB is just called 'HB'

So start organizing (4, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47606217)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

So what is stopping you from organizing a union? If you think it is so important then why are you not doing it instead of just complaining here on slashdot where it doesn't matter at all? Or are you just all talk and no action? Every time this topic comes up there is a bunch of complaining about how IT workers "need a union" but nobody ever seems to think it important enough to actually bother organizing.

Re:So start organizing (4, Insightful)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 months ago | (#47606277)

the dirty secret is we all hate each other

Re:So start organizing (4, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 3 months ago | (#47607801)

No the dirty secret is when IT people are young we are all naive, idealistic Libertarians who couldn't fathom the idea that Labor might need protection from Capital when the Free Market can clearly fix all ills if only the government would get out of the way. When we're older one of two things has happened: we're in management and on the other side of the table, or we're still in the trenches and we'd rather dangle in the breeze than swallow the bitter pill of our own reality or try to convince the new, naive. idealistic, Libertarian junior coworker that he's getting the shit end of the stick on purpose.

Re:So start organizing (1)

DamnOregonian (963763) | about 3 months ago | (#47608707)

So goddamn true.

Re:So start organizing (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 months ago | (#47608729)

No the dirty secret is when IT people are young we are all naive, idealistic Libertarians who couldn't fathom the idea that Labor might need protection from Capital when the Free Market can clearly fix all ills if only the government would get out of the way.

Or, more cynically, everyone thinks they're better than average, so they don't want a union cramping their style. One might say the result is laser-guided karma giving them exactly what they said those "weaker" programmers deserved: low wage, bad working conditions and no job security.

Re:So start organizing (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47608793)

Nice theory.

The reality is we can replace our bosses in 1/10 the time/cost it would take them to replace us.

Granting that isn't true for all. Fuck them.

Re: So start organizing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606317)

Well for starters, you can't make a union in Perl...

Re: So start organizing (1)

lorenlal (164133) | about 3 months ago | (#47606397)

Yes you can. That's what '||' is for.

Re:So start organizing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606487)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

So what is stopping you from organizing a union? If you think it is so important then why are you not doing it instead of just complaining here on slashdot where it doesn't matter at all? Or are you just all talk and no action? Every time this topic comes up there is a bunch of complaining about how IT workers "need a union" but nobody ever seems to think it important enough to actually bother organizing.

#1. Unions are associated with sweaty blue-collar workers. IT professionals are white collar, and have to make decisions. So they think they're "management" and thus obliged to despise unions.

#2. Unions are social organizations. IT people are famously non/anti-social.

Re:So start organizing (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 3 months ago | (#47606509)

As a fellow Slashdotter once said, "the best union is the one you're threatening to form".

Once you actually have a union, you also have a bureaucracy, and rules, and obligations. Sure, they're there to help you, but it still means headaches. On the other hand, if there's just a lot of complaints, the informal process is more flexible and can more easily reach an agreement, as long as the company in question is willing to compromise.

Re:So start organizing (3, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 months ago | (#47606803)

Back oh 10-15 years ago, I was part of a group that formed a union at a shop I was working at. We built industrial control panels for heavy machinery, lots of electronics and stuff in them, PLC's, relays and so on. If you ever see a small grey square box on the underside of a truck trailer, we built them too. They're used for shifting the rear wheels. Anyway, while you're right that you get the bureaucracy, rules and obligations. In some cases, the employer is such an ass, that it's worth those headaches vs the complaints, threats, and attempts to push people into non-paid OT.

Some companies are willing to compromise, some businesses too. Some of them just want to see the world burn around them.

Not a credible threat (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47607017)

As a fellow Slashdotter once said, "the best union is the one you're threatening to form".

Not unless it is a credible threat. There is no one actually seriously threatening to form a union and the management of the relevant companies knows this. An actual threat to form a union requires actually talking to (or becoming) union organizers. I'm confident enough I'd put actual money on it that no IT worker reading this has ever seriously taken any of the substantial actions required to form a union of IT workers. It's just a bunch of bitching on a website the management of their company will never read.

Re:So start organizing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606647)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

So what is stopping you from organizing a union?

Unions are a means to create a monopoly out of a fungible resource. IT and similar professionals are having enough trouble trying to convince management that our field is not fungible, and that adding Ned the Noob to a project will not hasten progress enough to reach the random deadlines that have no correlation with reality. Forming a union would be counterproductive.

If you think it is so important then why are you not doing it instead of just complaining here on slashdot where it doesn't matter at all? Or are you just all talk and no action? Every time this topic comes up there is a bunch of complaining about how IT workers "need a union" but nobody ever seems to think it important enough to actually bother organizing.

It is a loud and half-educated minority arguing for a techy union. Mostly 1st year out of college or less. Once they get a solid taste of having to put in three times the work because someone who was nowhere near qualified was added to a project, most will have a bitter distaste toward the idea of unionizing.

What we need is a viable collection of programmer guilds, with actual competence standards to join, so there will be some clear way to identify reasonable tiers of individual ability among those who take the effort to join one. Certifications are supposed to work vaguely like this, but most of those are jokes assembled from nearly related trivia rather than in any way testing ability. College degrees were supposed to be a useful gauge as well, but less than a mile behind my back as I sit at this desk is a state university whose comp-sci courses are somewhere in the realm of a sad joke.

Re:So start organizing (2)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | about 3 months ago | (#47606995)

The problem with modern unions is that they don't self-police the rubbers who inevitably get in. If Willy is a caught watching kiddie porn on the corp's equipment, the company shouldn't have to fight the union to get him axed. Modern unions for the most part will defend their members regardless of the infraction, including a criminal offense like this... If Steve is slacking and not getting his work done, Steve's coworkers should actively work with him to get him productive and if he isn't, give him da boot. Negative contributors drag everyone down.

Re:So start organizing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47609125)

That old saw? Canada, do you like doing the work of rubbers and slackers not getting their work done at your non-union job?

Most likely no.

Would you start wanting to do the work of rubbers and slackers not getting their work done, if you were to join a union?

Most likely no.

Why, then, do you think union workers stand around all day thinking, "boy, I wish Bob over there would start slacking off so I can do my work AND his!"

Re:So start organizing (1)

vencs (1937504) | about 3 months ago | (#47608947)

So what is stopping you from organizing a union?

May be because a threat to form an union is more effective than the union itself.

Obligatory (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606325)

The job market views labor unions as damage and routes around it.

Shut the fuck up Joe Dragon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606339)

Fucking union autist.

Re:If only we had a union (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606543)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

Before that, tech work needs to be protected by the FLSA. That would take away the main feature of H1B's: Working endless uncompensated hours.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 months ago | (#47606625)

That's a nice sentiment, except this has nothing to do with Tech/IT workers. Most white collar jobs are exempt from the FLSA's overtime protections [dol.gov] . Generally, salaried professionals and managers are exempt; in that respect Tech/IT workers are no different from other salaried professionals like doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, scientists, musicians. Salaried non-commissioned salespeople are one of the few white collar jobs which are non-exempt, and that's where Linkedin got in trouble - they weren't keep track of their overtime hours for some of their salespeople.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | about 3 months ago | (#47606707)

I have been a hourly worker, rather than salaried, as a network admin before. To make it more complex my yearly pay was worked out and then it was divided down to provide an hourly rate. I didn't actually want that situation, but the company did because hourly employees got different considerations for things like days the place was not open. See salaried workers got paid for all days the place wasn't open (usually around 21 per year, or three weeks worth), while hourly had to use their own vacation time for them. That meant hourly workers had to give up large chunks of pay during times the place was shut down if they wanted to take vacation outside of those time periods.

The opposite end of that is that I was not allowed to work over even a minute... At least and claim it. They loved to try to get me to stay extra and just not pay me for it. Which is pretty much like what went in in the article in effect.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47606747)

It's about time for one for Tech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS and the 1HB abuse.

Have you ever worked for a union?
The difference will be, all this same stuff will happen, and you'll pay union dues.
Union Bosses are still bosses, and in it for profit just like everyone else.

Re:If only we had a union (5, Interesting)

rockout (1039072) | about 3 months ago | (#47606999)

I belong to a union. I'm a full-time freelancer, in a technical field (not IT), but I belong to a union that I pay union dues to.

From your comments, it sounds to me like you either don't work for a union, or at one time you worked for an extremely shitty corrupt one. I assure you that while I pay union dues, I also make a lot more money on union jobs than on non-union ones (which I am far less likely to take on, because of the pay difference). I also now get my health care through a union plan, which is far cheaper than getting it on my own was.

My union dues pay for themselves each year within the first 4 days of work I do, in form of increased day rates that I get paid - and those rates are higher entirely due to my fellow techs and I organizing in 2008. Literally overnight, I suddenly had an about-30% increase in pay, and all I had to do was sign a card saying I wanted to be represented by the union, and I agreed to pay 2% of each check to the union. Pretty good deal by any measure.

Please don't paint all unions with your "commie unions and corrupt union bosses!!!" brush. It doesn't work that way in the majority of unions. But conservatives have done a great job convincing many Americans that that's actually the case. Which is unfortunate, as wealth continues to get more concentrated at the top. The thing is, my clients pay the higher union rates because they're still making money on each job. They just don't make as much of it, but that doesn't mean they just threw up their hands and said "oh well, we're only making 16 cents on the dollar now instead of 18, time to shut the whole thing down!" They have the money. They just want to keep more and more of it, no matter how much they make. Unions serve as a valuable counterweight to that greed.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 months ago | (#47608139)

There is also a quality guarantee depending on the industry. I know that plumbing unions, for example, hold their members to a higher standard of work and require more thorough training than just "took a class at a comprehensive high school." Hiring a union member isn't an automatic guarantee of quality, but the odds of getting quality work are higher than you would have hiring Random Guy Off Craigslist.

I know, anecdotes != data, but here's mine ... (1)

beer_maker (263112) | about 3 months ago | (#47609609)

Perhaps you are correct about the value of YOUR union, but in my own experience with two somewhat-non-technical unions (IATS&E, and another national one I won't name) I was treated as a disposable non-entity whose only purpose was the payment of dues, my verbal or written input was not solicited nor heard, and I never even SAW my union "representative" at the jobsite(s). Ever. NOT EVEN ONCE. I'm not bitter about it (much.) To this day I avoid all "Union Shops" because of those two jobs ...

Yes we need a union! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607135)

Because the US software industry has not yet been completely ruined.

A union will get us to that lofty goal much faster.

Servers on strike? (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | about 3 months ago | (#47607327)

So, if we have a union and we go on strike, can we put the servers on strike too?

"HTTP Error 525: Host is on strike"

Re:If only we had a union (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607475)

No need for a union. If you don't like the job, go work someplace better.

Re:If only we had a union (0)

jcr (53032) | about 3 months ago | (#47607865)

ech / IT as a union will put a stop to a lot of this BS

Oh, fuck off. I don't need another goddamned racket sucking money out of my paycheck to buy hookers and blow for politicians and mafia bosses.

-jcr

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 3 months ago | (#47608111)

Forget unions. People have to hold companies accountable by involving the governments when these companies break the rules. There are ways to get your message across and get a proper response.

In the past, unions saved people from abuse and paved the way to federal labour laws and regulations but all they do now is:
- Protect those who do not want to work as hard as they should and punishes people who work to hard by pointing them and telling them to stop making the others look bad
- Forces companies to promote people by seniority regardless of if it's the best person for the job. Grumpy Joe gets the supervisor role because he has the most seniority
- Creates a sense of entitlement that isn't deserved in many cases

Unions are still useful for people who develop health issues as the benefits in union jobs a in most cases better.

Re:If only we had a union (2)

LessThanObvious (3671949) | about 3 months ago | (#47609219)

No IT union. Please for the love of god don't let unions fuck up IT. Unions create a bad working relationship between labor and management and they introduce inefficiency. The best thing we have going in Silicon Valley is keeping the unions out. We could do things like organize politically to make our voices heard on matters of policy, but unions will kill the industry.

Re:If only we had a union (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47609357)

It workers work in a meritocracy. I am better than you, so I get paid more than you; this is why I stay around and clean up your endless fuckups. When I'm not making enough more than you I go to another job where I get a raise and 1 or more new people just like you. Rinse, lather, repeat until retirement.

Union people believe they should be paid according to how long they have managed to not get fired for. They also try to make it really hard to fire union members. The last thing an IT worker wants to do is dilute their own wage by subsidizing a team of morons, neck stumps, drool factories, window lickers, can't learns, won't learns, mongoloids (medically speaking, not anthropologically speaking), chair warmers, crit sev generators, clock watchers, and management.

Unions and IT people have different mindsets.

USDOL wants to connect with you on Linkedin (2)

theodp (442580) | about 3 months ago | (#47606135)

That'll teach Reid Hoffman to click 'Accept'...

Love to know more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606227)

The DoL statement is pretty generic..
and the quote from LinkedIn "This was a function of not having the right tools in place for a small subset of our sales force to track hours properly,"
said Shannon Stubo, vice president of corporate communications.

Let's see... 359 current and former employees received back pay. Linkedin has about 6500 employees. so 360 is about 5% of the *total* linked in workforce. I guess that could be a "small subset"

now for the computer fraud and abuse act..... (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | about 3 months ago | (#47606263)

Ok so they got caught for involvement with internal shenanigans, now someone just needs to look into all of those mailserver logs where linkedin tries to access corporate email accounts using linkedin credentials when they haven't been authorized to...

Slippery Slope (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606289)

If you pay some people for working, pretty soon everyone will expect to be paid for working!

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#47606641)

Which, like a higher minimum wage, will cause a ripple effect of wage increases, which I am absolutely certain is how inflation happens! How can these leftists expect the economy to work if we pay all these jackoffs decent money for their effort!?

don't get your hopes up (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 3 months ago | (#47606501)

Many employees at tech companies are "exempt"; they don't get overtime pay. LinkedIn's dispute is about overtime for non-exempt sales people. The law is pretty murky, so calling this "wage theft" is a stretch. And this isn't going to change anything for tech employees; they are usually exempt anyway.

Is this good for the employees? I doubt it. LinkedIn isn't going to pay more compensation overall, they are simply going to shift it around. If it has any effect, it's going to be shifting money from higher performing sales people to lower performing sales people in the short term, and make it more likely that lower performers get fired in the long term.

You don't want to be an hourly employee. First of all, it means a sh*tload of bookkeeping. If you're a good performer, you'll be underpaid, and if you're a bad performer, you're more likely to get fired.

Typical democRATS!! Skirting the law!!! (1)

JohnnyConservative (1611795) | about 3 months ago | (#47606563)

Typical democRAT activity - avoiding the laws they want the rest of us to obey!!! Yet another reason to impeach and remove democRATS!

FRIST PSOt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606629)

Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (5, Informative)

James-NSC (1414763) | about 3 months ago | (#47606759)

Some companies skirt this rule simply by paying "hourly" employees a salary above $23,600 (per FLSA [flsa.com] ) then work them 80+ hours a week and call it good. More and more employees, regardless of actual job duties are being paid a salary so they are then "exempt" from any overtime pay, even those that would traditionally qualify under the FLSA & I see this more and more often in the IT sector. If you look at the Computer Employee Exemption [dol.gov] - you can make pretty much any IT job [flsa.com] fit the bill if you phrase it correctly.

Workers are left with little recourse because:

  • They've been exempt at every job they've ever had, so they no know different
  • Many - even some of the learned ones - do not know how the FLSA applies to them in this situation
  • Everyone around them is expected to work overtime w/out compensation, so it's not unusual.
  • Regardless of what job duties they will be doing up to and, frankly, especially those including "non-exempt" duties they are told by management that they are doing "exempt" duties
  • They have little real recourse, even if they know they are "non-exempt", unless other co-workers join them in a complaint. Co-workers who are unlikely to do so as:
    • There is little perceived gain and significant risk
    • It is expensive to the point of being cost-prohibitive in order to make a successful claim
    • Any employee who were to be successful would likely find repercussions pertaining to employ-ability later down the road. While not legal to do so above the board, it happens nevertheless (just look at all the wage-fixing [boingboing.net] and collusion [reuters.com] in the valley - you actually think they'll hire someone again, or promote them over a co-worker who didn't sue?)

At the end of the day, LinkedIn is far from an anomaly, it is standard business practice - unless there is a top to bottom review by some third party (I don't know if there is even an entity that would be suited for this sort of endeavor), this practice will continue unabated. We will work more and continue to be paid less than what we earn.

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47606929)

This might be seem silly to bring up as this is the first time I've had a name put to that damnable "if you're on salary you don't get paid overtime" law, but could we, as professionals, rally to have the part of the FLSA stating that certain jobs are 'exempt' from having to be paid overtime if on salary? Everyone hates it. I don't see why we can't organize and get this repealed. Is there something I'm missing?

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607145)

Yes - you are missing the part where US tech companies quit pretending to be US companies and all move to India.

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 3 months ago | (#47608077)

Labor actions are damned dirty communism, unless you are John Galt..

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608499)

Is there something I'm missing?

Yes, there is something you're missing: a powerful lobbying group.

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 3 months ago | (#47607157)

Yeah that exception should be at like 75k, for cheap midwestern town. A big city, more like 125.

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607425)

IT Workers in Ontario aren't entitled to overtime.

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_010285_e.htm#BK17 [gov.on.ca]

the list reads like a joke.

This one too: http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/tools/srt/coverage_government_it.php [gov.on.ca]


Information technology professionals are not covered by the daily and weekly limits on hours of work. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 4(3)(b)
Information technology professionals are not covered by the daily rest period rule. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 4(3)(b)
Information technology professionals are not covered by the time off between shifts rule. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 4(3)(b)
Information technology professionals are not covered by the weekly/bi-weekly rest period rule. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 4(3)(b)
Information technology professionals are not entitled to an eating period. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 4(3)(b)
Information technology professionals are not entitled to overtime pay. O. Reg. 285/01, s. 8(l)

I became a contractor. If you don't want to pay me, I don't work. If I don't work, you don't pay me.

Re:Salaried Employees Get This All The Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607991)

According to this site I ran across [hrmorning.com] while checking to see if there had been any progress on this topic in recent years, we can look forward to a potential Notice of Proposed Rulemaking some time in November, which is expected to raise the exempt bar to ~$1,000/week and update some of the duties tests for what constitutes white collar work.

Additionally, it's worthwhile to note that many states have their own overtime exemption rules that already set the bar much higher than the current $455/week. For instance, in California the computer employee exemption rate [ca.gov] (PDF) is $41/hour, indexed yearly to the state's CPI.

Time for a professional organization in IT (4, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | about 3 months ago | (#47606911)

The current culture in IT is a breeding ground for problems like this. LinkedIn is a public company now, but I'm sure they still operate in Silicon Valley start up mode trying to grind 80-hour weeks out of everyone without paying for them or staffing appropriately.

I know it's a total pipe dream, but I have an idea that would get IT the representation it needed without the Randian folk getting upset about unions...a professional organization. The AMA ensures high salaries for physicians by limiting the number of spots in medical school as well as setting a high bar for licensure. Professional Engineers (the actual licensed kind) are liable for their work and can refuse to sign off on things that they deem unsafe. Law is a bad example (the ABA went down the same roads we in IT are traveling.) Professional organizations would bring at least a minimum level of universal training to the field. Right now, what passes for education beyond a CS degree is provided by vendors with a vested interest in you buying their product. Projects that you see all over the IT press that blow up after millions of wasted dollars were flushed down the toilet probably would have a better chance of getting shot down right away.

The problem is that there would have to be a split in the field with regards to job duties, and I don't know how that would be easily separated. Things like tech support, documentation and basic systems administration might be better classed as paraprofessional jobs so that things like OT and on-call hours would be easier to ensure compliance on. And on the other side, systems architects and engineers would need to step their game up...mandatory continuing education, etc. Right now, skill levels and education experiences vary wildly. Hiring someone involves either giving them ridiculous tests to see if they're lying about their experience or just hoping you can smell BS. It would be a good thing for employers as well in the long run.

I'm sure things will have to get very bad indeed for anything to happen given the culture in IT. IT people have really done a good job convincing themselves that they're white collar professionals, lone wolves and would never need any leverage against an employer. Having a professional organization rather than a union would probably quiet some of this, espeically when people see that they could increase their income and improve working conditions for everyone by doing it. The problem is the toxic "job creators vs. lazy entitled workers" meme -- people need to realize that business owners aren't just going to welcome you into their club if you play by their rules. It's an adversarial relationship, always has been, and people need to treat it that way. Workers will always try to get more for their labor, and management will always try to squeeze as hard as they can. The only way to balance that out is to organize.

Re:Time for a professional organization in IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47607973)

amen.

Re:Time for a professional organization in IT (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 3 months ago | (#47608189)

Some of them are trying to get booted up. Atlanta Web Design Group recently organized a bit more strongly and even considered filing as a 501(c) group. (Didn't quite raise enough money in their last Kickstarter for that.)

I think that IT as an umbrella is too broad, but an American Association of Developers might be a great start.

Re:Time for a professional organization in IT (4, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 3 months ago | (#47608353)

... And on the other side, systems architects and engineers would need to step their game up...mandatory continuing education, etc.

Here's part of the problem. Long, long ago, there was this thing called "Certified Data Professional" Locally, some people tried to make a big deal of it, and I even knew 1 or 2 people who took the exam. In fact, I have the study guide.

But it didn't work then, and that was back when just knowing COBOL and basic I/O was good for the majority of the jobs. Unless, of course, you worked exclusively with FORTRAN, PL/1, RPG or Assembler. And then there's which OS to be proficient in JCL for. Or which brand of hardware: IBM, Univac, Burroughs, or one of the other "7 dwarfs".

The field has exploded since then. We have batch and interactive, multiple flavors of GUI systems, mobile devices, various and sundry web platforms - and I can't even count just the ones for Java, even before Ruby on Rails, Django, and on and on. We have scientific computing, AI, business processes, multiple database options, LDAP, virtualization, containers, clouds, Big Data - something new every week.

There's NO TIME to make a one-size-fits-all professional competence exam based on continuous learning. We're all learning different things, and we can't slow down because we're already at the point where we need to learn something else.

I have no solution, other than to notice that the cram-and-barf exam/cert solution is obviously worthless. The only certs I've seen that I'll credit are less on details and more on things like whether you can bring up a general-purpose Linux (or Windows) server in 4 hours.

I'd be inclined to simply make it a "web of trust" thing where to be certified, you needed a certain number of votes from people already in the club. Meaning that they're willing to risk their reputations that you're decently competent. But that, too has its flaws. Good Ole Boys get free passes and unwashed twerps with bad social skills get left out. And bad social skills are almost a badge of honor in IT!

Re:Time for a professional organization in IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47608539)

In short: companies will bleed IT workers as much as possible these days, and there's fuckall we can do, but try and find somewhere else to work that isn't as shitty. All the while, not getting black balled in the local market, even if we don't burn bridges.

Sorry, but having friends in the same field and getting them to pull strings can get you only so far. Unless you're in a metropolis, it's easy to create a dead zone for yourself in IT, even if you leave on a positive note.

Re:Time for a professional organization in IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47609089)

Oh my fuck that is a terrible idea. You looked at the AMA and seriously went, "Wow! I want a professional IT organization just like them!" ?

A professional organization like you describe is anticompetitive in an unjustifiable way. It would restrict entry into an otherwise open and easy to enter workforce. If you want better pay, differentiate yourself with better performance. Don't rely on protectionism.

LinkedIn was going to be called "CircleJerk" (1)

zawarski (1381571) | about 3 months ago | (#47608199)

..but domain was already taken.

Better Start Looking for a New Job (1)

AdamStarks (2634757) | about 3 months ago | (#47608367)

Guess they should polish up their LinkedIn profiles.

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