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Tech Workers of the World Unite?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the come-together-right-now dept.


okidokedork writes "Wired News reports on the lack of unions in the IT workplace. If you could join a union in your workplace, would you?" From the article: "The rich get richer, the shareholder is valued more than the employee, jobs are eliminated in the name of bottom-line efficiency (remember when they called firing people 'right-sizing'?) and the gulf between the rich and the working class grows wider every year. You see this libertarian ethos everywhere, but nowhere more clearly than in the technology sector, where the number of union jobs can be counted on one hand. Tech is the Wild West as far as the job market goes and the robber barons on top of the pile aim to keep it that way. They'll offshore your job to save a few bucks or lay you off at the first sign of a slump, but they're the first to scream, 'You're stifling innovation!' at any attempt to control the industry or provide job security for the people who do the actual work."

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Fight your own battles. (4, Insightful)

RunFatBoy.net (960072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311319)

I certainly do not want to belong to an organization where I can only be guaranteed a salary increase across the board next to the same slacker programmer who didn't contribute. You know how I fight the big companies? If the job sucks or I don't think I am being treated fairly, I quit, simple as that. Let your feet do the talking and get the hell out of there.

The fact is, when the PHBs numbers aren't going to be favorable, then your job may be on the chopping block. But with the same sentiment, when it comes times for initial salary negotiations, take the gloves off, and _fight for every penny_. When the going gets tough, and your team may be part of the downsizing, be sure that you've accounted for such job insecurity/risk.

Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] - A workout plan that doesn't feel like homework.

Re:Fight your own battles. (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311407)

You know how I fight the big companies? If the job sucks or I don't think I am being treated fairly, I quit, simple as that. Let your feet do the talking and get the hell out of there.

Good for you being able to avoid responsibility to the point where you can- I've got a mortgage and a family to pay for.

The fact is, when the PHBs numbers aren't going to be favorable, then your job may be on the chopping block. But with the same sentiment, when it comes times for initial salary negotiations, take the gloves off, and _fight for every penny_. When the going gets tough, and your team may be part of the downsizing, be sure that you've accounted for such job insecurity/risk.

You're not worth every penney- you're worth the $2.50/hr your job can be done in India for.

Re:Fight your own battles. (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311552)

Good for you being able to avoid responsibility to the point where you can- I've got a mortgage and a family to pay for.

Perhaps you should have considered your family plans in your financial plans. Or perhaps you did, and you decided that running closer to the margin was a good idea. Regardless, I didn't make your bed, so I'm not the one who has to lie in it.

You're not worth every penney- you're worth the $2.50/hr your job can be done in India for.

No, it can't. An inferior version of your job can be done. Some employers will go that route. Some won't. Woe betide those who pick the wrong one.

I'm as sad as the next guy when my employment doesn't work out, but expecting someone else to be responsible for my choices is unreasonable.

Re:Fight your own battles. (2, Insightful)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311567)

I've got a mortgage and a family to pay for.

So? Your investment and choices in life are not your company's responsibility to deal with.

You're not worth every penney- you're worth the $2.50/hr your job can be done in India for.

It's better to loose *some* jobs than to have the entire company collapse like the auto industry is collapsing to foreign competition. Which would you have? A small lay off, or a complete plant closing? pick your poison.

I choose opportunity over communism. If you can't remain employeed, then you shouldn't be digging yourself into massive debt and expecting someone else to deal with your poor choices.

Re:Fight your own battles. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311415)

Here's a quote from the article that seems almost tailor written for you:
Those weaned on an Ayn Rand kind of individualism aren't likely to appreciate the debt they owe to the American labor movement, or why restoring it to health is in their interests, too. Until the ax falls; then they understand. I've known talented people who have lost their jobs with little more than a shrug. The shrugging usually stops, however, when finding a comparable job proves more difficult than they ever imagined.

Re:Fight your own battles. (3, Insightful)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311516)

Oh yes I loved being in new york when the trains werent running. 60K a year retire at 55 and they wanted to retire at 50. No one owes you a job or a life you have to make your own.

Re:Fight your own battles. (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311421)

Thats easy to say if you are highly skilled and experianced. Even if someone is not "stupid" but they are just, oh say less than 30 years old, they probably dont have the option to just walk away to a better paying job. If there already is a better paying job out there why dont you go get it? Unfortunatly its the additude that everyone needs to gouge their employer for every penny that is sending more and more jobs overseas. If there was unionized pay them maybe companies and employees can work out a system that works for both parties in stead of this dog eat dog world that is starting to slip.

Re:Fight your own battles. (1)

bnet41 (591930) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311486)

Does the good outweigh the bad? How would you deal with lazy workers, and people getting promotions simply for seniority and not skill? Those are both MAJOR complaints people have with unions. In my experience with them I found those issues to be true.

Re:Fight your own battles. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311568)

Does the good outweigh the bad? How would you deal with lazy workers, and people getting promotions simply for seniority and not skill? Those are both MAJOR complaints people have with unions. In my experience with them I found those issues to be true.

Unfortuneately the converse is also true. My last private industry job I had to deal with senior people being let go for asking for raises so fast that we couldn't debug the code that had been released into the market a week before I started. There's a lot to be said for keeping people around for seniority and keeping them happy- they're the ones who have to go back to Big Bertha to repair code that they wrote in 1965 before you were born. In other words- that's a pretty immature and petty complaint you're calling major there- and it's one that can cause the failure of a company.

Re:Fight your own battles. (5, Insightful)

psyberjedi (650736) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311451)

It may be easy for you to say quit and depending on where you live there may be a plethora of jobs available. However, where I live is rather rural and there are only so many tech jobs. After following the same line of thought that you expressed, I had a company disolve out from under me 3 months later and spent the next 9 months unemployed.

I agree with your sentiment in that I do not want to be given a raise if, and only if, everyone gets one, but going home to my wife to tell her that "Oh, by the way sweetie, we are going to be tightening the old belt because the company sucks and I told them to stick it," is not my idea of fun.

I am not sure that a union is necessarily the right choice, but clearly there must be some middle ground between the techs and the guys in the suits making all the money. My manager makes 3x what I do and he has the spine and decision making skills of a jellyfish. Like many managers, the only quick decisions he makes are those that make him look good. Good for the techs or good for the company comes 3rd or 4th on his list.

If a union can toss my boss in the trash, where can I pay my dues?

Re:Fight your own battles. (2, Insightful)

AppyPappy (64817) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311452)

The union's job is to screw you out of money. I don't see the difference.

Re:Fight your own battles. (1)

Ragingguppy (464321) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311461)

Darn straight. Anyone know where I can find a good programming job these days. I want to quit my tech support job.

Re:Fight your own battles. (1)

Vyvyan Basterd (972007) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311470)

So is that why you're spamming your stupid site in every post? To show what a hardcore individualist you are to buck the use of the provided sig space?

tech workers of the world undress!!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311335)

...you have nothing to lose but your clothes!!

Guild model (4, Interesting)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311337)

Might be more applicable. Getting royalties to work produced has served the information industry as it exists in Los Angeles well to date. Might be time for Northern California (and other parts) to investigate this model further.

There used to be a Graphics guild back in the day, I wouldn't mind seeing that return either.

IT is just too different for Unions (4, Interesting)

bnet41 (591930) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311340)

IT people are too mobile to be in a union. IT people like to change job more so than other professions I've seen. Unions depend a lot on Brotherhood, and office people generally just aren't like that. I would have no interest in being in a union. The IT sector is too fast paced for unions who can really hamper a company's desire for change. Also, the seniority thing is what I think would drive most workers away, as most IT workers like to be rewarded for their work and not how long they have been there. I was in a Union when I worked at a grocery store, and sadly most of the things I had heard about unions I found to be true.
Another thing is I love my job, and don't mind working 60 hours a week. Unions really like to supress that behavior. I work that much because computers are my hobby, and there are much better computers here at work just for testing than I could ever afford at home. Is it bad that I like to be here that much doing my hobby? I know others like me as well.

Re:IT is just too different for Unions (2, Insightful)

gorehog (534288) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311491)

Sure, IT workers LOVE to change jobs, they dont WANT job security. They'd rather be the migrant workers of the middle class.

Re:IT is just too different for Unions (1)

bnet41 (591930) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311555)

Many I know leave jobs looking for new challenges. Why do you think we have those "how do I become a consultant" Ask Slashdot questions come up every few months? Being a consultant allows one to constantly get new challenges.

Re:IT is just too different for Unions (2, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311503)

For the moment we are. And due to that, I wouldn't join an attempt to start one unless there was a lot of momentum behind it. And if I was being that mistreated that the movement was working, I'd probably switch jobs first.

But I can definitely see it being different in 10 years. Outsourcing and the increase in health care and other costs without seeing an increase in general wages (especially for current employees- the only time I get raises tends to be when I switch jobs) may bring about a market where it could help. Especially if I get married and have a family, moving jobs then is nowhere near as easy.

Re:IT is just too different for Unions (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311562)

It just requires a different model than the UAW or the other industrial unions. The movie industry which is even more mobile than tech is highly unionized. The Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild seem to work for people who change employers every few months, I don't see why tech people couldn't have an equivalent.

capitalist pig speaking (5, Interesting)

boxlight (928484) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311345)

I know I'm going to sound like a totally insensitive capitalist pig, but I'm been a programmer for years and my experience is there are lots of challenging well-paying jobs for good, enthusiastic, productive programmers.

Every once in a while someone in a group mentions the idea of unions and -- no joke -- it's *always* the laziest, whiniest, least productive member of the group that brings up the idea.

So I vote no.


Re:capitalist pig speaking (1)

Cocoronixx (551128) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311405)

Every once in a while someone in a group mentions the idea of unions and -- no joke -- it's *always* the laziest, whiniest, least productive member of the group that brings up the idea.

Which could easily also mean that (s)he is the most burnt out & disgruntled worker.

Re:capitalist pig speaking (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311433)

the laziest, whiniest, least productive member of the group

Translation- the person most likely to bring an AK-47 to work and blow your responsibility-avoiding head off.

Re:capitalist pig speaking (3, Insightful)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311541)

Translation- the person most likely to bring an AK-47 to work and blow your responsibility-avoiding head off.

Thank you for making the point.

Re:capitalist pig speaking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311434)

Exactly, unions end up being run by a few losers who just want to set up their own little kingdom. I hate the idea union wages are not based on merit but on arbitrary factors dreamed up by idiots who will gladly resort to violence to get their way. A guy I knew had the job of "busting up" unions, and he was constantly under threat of death because the people he had to negotiate with were unreasonable and shortsighted. They only cared about how much they could squeeze out of the employer, and also squeeze out of the union coffers. They didn't like it when he would present clear and logical reasoning and they always resorted to yelling, cursing and threats to try to get him to back down.

I want no part in any organization of that sort.

Re:capitalist pig speaking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311489)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't unions supposed to be democratic?

Who, then, would you blame if the union itself turns out to be corrupt?

Re:capitalist pig speaking (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311512)

the laziest, whiniest, least productive member of the group
Ah, yes. I do believe the Gov't collects those.

Never have I seen a greater hive of shiftlessness and whinyness than Unionized Gov't IT staff.

Counting (4, Funny)

tktk (540564) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311347)

You see this libertarian ethos everywhere, but nowhere more clearly than in the technology sector, where the number of union jobs can be counted on one hand.

Count in binary and you'll get a larger number.

Re:Counting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311429)

Why? You've got 5 fingers, why not Quinary?

Re:Counting (3, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311538)

Because your fingers don't have five states.

That was the polite response. The impolite one would have been to count to four.

Shhh... (2, Insightful)

digitalamish (449285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311351)

Don't give the suits yet another reason why offshoring is a better alternative.

Re:Shhh... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311547)

Don't give the suits yet another reason why offshoring is a better alternative.

You've been had. They don't need reasons. They'll just take whatever offers itself, and if nothing does, they'll invent one.

I've been through several insourcing-outsourcing-insourcing-outsourcing cycles. I've come to the firm conclusion that they're all pointless and a total waste of time and ressources. They do, however, have one incredible effect: They make the managers who are responsible for them look progressive, modern, effective, and a dozen other buzzwords.

Iconoclasts of the world: unite!!! (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311354)

Uh... did I really just read that?

Re:Iconoclasts of the world: unite!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311559)

No, you read "Solipsist of the world, unite!".

Simple Solution! (2, Insightful)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311359)

the shareholder is valued more than the employee

Maybe the employee should buy some shares.

Re:Simple Solution! (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311496)

>>the shareholder is valued more than the employee

>Maybe the employee should buy some shares.

You get it!

I also note that the complaints always come from someone whose merits have not equated to
any promotion to any level of authority. They are always from people who have problems with
the authority above them, and never from people who have elevated in their career development
into a position of authority themselves.

Join a union? (2, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311364)

Never! The job I work is not mine... it is my employer's and they are free to can me at any time for any reason... just as I am able to leave at any time and for any reason.

Now that... is true freedom!

One of my major beefs with unions (and one of the biggest reasons that I would never join one) is that they provide the ability for... dead weight. People who either are unable or unwilling to contribute to the bottom line are able to be carried along on the shoulders of those who are capable and do do the work.

Lets also not forget that in many unions, ones loyalties are to the union and the company you work for far behind.

Re:Join a union? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311513)

Now that... is true freedom!

One could assume you prefer the BSD license over the GPL.

People who either are unable or unwilling to contribute to the bottom line are able to be carried along on the shoulders of those who are capable and do do the work.

Agreed, that is the downside of a union. The upside is that if you are in a very precarious job situation, you have the ability to collectively bargain with your peers to keep management from taking away the morning coffee.

Lets also not forget that in many unions, ones loyalties are to the union and the company you work for far behind.

It comes from the idea that the company isn't doing what is in your best interest. As TA said, shareholders are often put before those that create the wealth. In fact, I think only Costco puts its employees before the shareholders.

And the day I'm loyal to my company, please take me out back and shoot me. I'll be as loyal to them as they are to me. I'm loyal to them to the extent they pay me and nothing else.

Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311366)

Yeah unions are doing wonders for the auto industry so I'm sure it will work wonders for IT industry...

Depends (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311375)

If you can somehow improve job security while maintaining the meritocracy that currently exists in technological fields, then it might be worth looking into. Clearly, companies have become too quick to lay off tech workers (and other types of workers as well) simply to bump up stock price. On the other hand, I don't want a system where seniority is the only (or the major) consideration when deciding raises and promotions.

In short, I want a system where skilled employees are not let go just because the CEO wants to skim off the top 10% of wage earners in every department in order to improve his bottom line, but I also don't want a system where a company is forced to hang on to morons just because they're in the union.

Is IT labor in its infancy? (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311376)

If so, then a labor union is a good idea. Otherwise, not. Unions help people get rights, yes. Then they start sucking the lifeblood out of everything they touch. You are guaranteed a job even if you don't do it, and that is bullshit.

With that said, the BOFH union local 666 would rule the fucking world, so from that standpoint, it might be fun...

After being laid off for three years (5, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311379)

And seeing the truth about what management thinks of IT (basically that you're all a bunch of losers who failed to get your MBA and deserve to be treated like shit), I won't work for a non-union shop ever again. Keeping your job on merits is fine- until you find out that they reward your hard work by kicking you out with as few $$$ as possible, so that they can justify their million-dollar McMansions and pools and Mazda Miatas.

Re:After being laid off for three years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311462)

Dude - did you really just say "Mazda Miata" as an example of luxury car?

Re:After being laid off for three years (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311485)

Dude - did you really just say "Mazda Miata" as an example of luxury car?

It was to the PHB who fired 3 programmers off my team and sabotaged my project just before delivery to take advantage of the stock bubble bounce to buy one.

Re:After being laid off for three years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311525)

Uhm, isn't that about a 20K car? That's just about the saddest car a middle age guy could buy, that and a Ford Mustang. You can rest easy knowing he got absolutely no ass as a result of that car.

Unions? Yeah right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311384)

Because they did such an amazing job at preventing manufacturing jobs from moving out of the country. On the other hand, union management got very rich in the process. Hmmm...

Re:Unions? Yeah right. (1)

gorehog (534288) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311539)

It would have worked if people had bought the products from union shops. Instead they all went and bought from Payless and WalMArt

I've got something for ya Brother (0, Troll)

cyngus (753668) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311396)

If I heard about a tech workers union forming at my company, I"d leave. Plain and simple, I don't need anyone free loading on my abilities to negotiate a better salary for their stellar ability to sit on their ass and play WoW instead of writing decent code. Likewise, if I feel my company doesn't appreciate me, I'm outta there. I'm in this for me, not to help me "fellow man" (MY fellow men don't want my help anyway) or to give my company something they don't appreciate and compensate me for.

Re:I've got something for ya Brother (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311565)

But you could be the one fired. Rember, a lot of skilled professionals have unions in Europe and they work. Do you want to insure that those who code poorly get fired, no matter how much they seem to do but management never sees you fix? Put that in the contract. Do you want to ensure that algorithms you create are not patented by your company automatically, and that you can still right academic papers? Put that in. Do you want to give Doctors better salaries then Bachlors and Masters? Put that in. A lot of benifits companies would never think of putting in a contract become viable with unions.

No, I would not join a union (1)

magicjava (952331) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311398)

I like the wild west feel of our job. It benefits the good coders and I'm a gunslinger. :)

Unions (2, Interesting)

Sollord (888521) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311402)

I live in michigan... I'm no longer a fan of unions. They make it hard to fire the the worthless slacker even though he gets payed the same ammount as the hard working people. I mean $20 an hour to sweep a floor is briliant.

Re:Unions (1)

xenoterracide (880092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311483)

most of michigan sucks for IT in general if you ask me. Having a union wouldn't help. The jobs aren't here.... depending on where in michigan you live. The Greater Detroit Area isn't bad. but everywhere else kinda sucks. Having a union wouldn't help.

Heck no. (3, Insightful)

outZider (165286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311403)

After seeing the joy of what unions have done to most major industries, no way would I want them invading IT. While working really sucks, I enjoy the fact that slacker developers that I've worked with have been culled, and that pay raises have been earned and not given because they have to.

Unions foster mediocrity.

Brought to you by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311406)

Fess up Zonk. You are just trolling for the Indian Chamber of Commerce. I'm sure they would love to see an unionized US IT workforce.

With apologies to Rush (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311410)

There is unrest in the cube farm,
Bachelors, Masters, Ph.Ds,
For the coders want less sunlight
And they hate MCSEs.

There's trouble with UI group,
(And they're quite convinced the're right)
They say the coders are just too lofty
And they just don't see the light.

But the devs can't help their feelings
If they like how it's designed.
And they wonder why UI types
Can't just use the CLI.

So the techies formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"These designers are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."

Now there's no more tech oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the hackers only hack now,
With hatchet, axe, and saw.

asscrawling rulez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311414)

U prefer to crawl deeply into my employers ass. submissive people are not fired.

We need a Professional Society, not a "union" (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311418)

What we need is an equivalent of the National Society of Professional Engineers [nspe.org]. Engineers represent the best analogy to IT. There are Chem Engineers, Mechanical, Civil, etc. A multitude of very technical and highly trained professionals.

From the About page:

"Founded in 1934, NSPE strengthens the engineering profession by promoting engineering licensure and ethics, enhancing the engineer image, advocating and protecting PEs' legal rights at the national and state levels, publishing news of the profession, providing continuing education opportunities, and much more."
I'd like to get me some of that.

No way in hell (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311423)

I'd quit any company that had a large unionization movement starting within it. It's that simple.

Unions had their place years ago, now they don't (3, Informative)

teshuvah (831969) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311425)

They were a necessary evil when the Industrial Revolution came about, but now they're just an unnecessary evil. The unions are nothign more than legal mafias. Just look at GM. I have 2 family members who work there. My brother-in-law is a toolmaker, and his job consists of playing cards, working out, watching TV, and taking naps. Oh, and for about an hour out of the day he actually has to do some actual work like reset a machine or something. Poor guy only makes $35/hour after being there for a year. He started at $28 an hour. He has no college degree either, so GM is paying for him to get his journeyman's card, and pays for him to attend school (pays for the school plus his hourly wage why he is there). Up until recently, he could take as much overtime as he wanted, including double and sometimes triple time on Sunday. Guess what he pays for family health insurance? $0.00 a month. I guess this is why GM is so financially sound, oh wait.......

Geeks dont break legs. (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311431)

Mostly geeks are the ones getting beat up in school. Who would be the thugs?

I don't need a union (1)

amichalo (132545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311435)

I'm a developer and I don't need a union.

If I wanted to laze around my job, "wearing the minimum amount of flare", then I guess I would need a union in order to ensure I can keep my job. But intead, I work for a living.

I don't need a union because there are laws against unsafe working conditions and protections for a minimum wage.

I don't need a union because the market sets the standard for reasonable heath, timeoff, and other benefits.

I don't need a union because I deliver value to my boss and the company.

Wisdom (from Bash.org, of all places) (2, Funny)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311437)

I once saw a quote on Bash.org along these lines - Get all the tech-support people in the world to join together and form a kind of union. The union would have one purpose, and one purpose only: Every month, the members all pay a due. The dues go into one large pot. Now, anytime one of the members has to deal with a REALLY obnoxious/annoying (l)user who just doesn't get it, the money in the pot can be used to hire a hitman. Sounds good, no?

A Known Quantity (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311440)

In reality unions have had their day, not because managers aren't out to squeeze the last drop out of 'their' workers given a chance - but because they are well aware of the tools and operating methods of conventional unions. They literally laugh and the slow and predictable approaches employed. They are well ready to counter any conventional effort to employ union power. If you want to gain the advantages of group action you need to create and implement truly innovative approaches which are proof against distruptive efforts from within and without. Above all you need to have your fist firmly grasped around the balls of the organisation and be able to squeeze at a moments' notice.

And then you have to have the ethically backbone not to unless there is no other way.

Lastly, your grasp better be international in reach.

Union: No thanks (2, Insightful)

kaladorn (514293) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311441)

If there ever was an organization dedicated to mediocrity, impeding productivity and forcing people to be on strike and not earning money when they want to, a union would be it.

I've been a programmer for over ten years now. Keep your skills fresh, work hard, be a team player, and you'll tend to get further work (if one job dries up, someone you know and have impressed will pipeline you into another) and plan for contingencies like being out of work for a while. It's a nice indoor job with good benefits (I'm a contractor but I have been an employee enough times to know that) and good pay rates. Sure, you might get outsourced - that just means what you were doing is something somebody else *should* be doing since they can do it cheaper. Get into some part of the industry that is new and not likely to flow to parts of the world with poor infrastructure, language barriers, or non-existent IP laws. Or get into Defense or Security work, those won't likely offshore anytime soon.

In short, stop crying and start working towards the future you want. High-tech is still one of the best ways to get there for the middle class guy. Sure, the rich get richer, but if anyone can tell me when this wasn't the case, I'd be glad to cut the legs out from under them. Yes, you work hard. But if you enjoy the job, that's actually not a bad thing.

And if you don't like the field, get out. If you don't like your employer, move on. If you don't like the work, retrain, expend some of your resources readying yourself for something you do like.

It seems to me the article's poster expects the world owes him/her something. Get over yourself, I say. The world owes you nothing, isn't fair, and a Union won't do anything but take your money, impose restrictions that hamper the hard workers and the competent, and drive the work away faster. Oh, and add to that sometimes pull you out of work when you don't want to go. And consume your union dues along the way (like all bureaucracies).

Unions... no thanks. I'm doing just fine without them. The only people who need unions are lazy folks, people without foresight, or people without initiative. Do yourself a favour and go out and take the world on and beat it into the shape you want, don't wait for someone to fix it for you.

Unions not the answer (1)

MandoSKippy (708601) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311446)

I don't think unions are the answer, I think like all things polictial they get corrupted over time. I wouldn't mind seeing a little protection for IT workers. For instance the loophole that allows the lowest level techies and programmers to be considered "management" and thus not be allowed overtime. Often times 60 hours a week is required with no extra pay. The way salaries was supposed to work is you do what it takes to get the job done, but few companies will let you leave early if you get the job done. So you end up spending hours trying to look busy until you can leave. We need to truly define what is management and what is not in the IT world, allow those who work there butts off 80 hours a week to get some extra compensation. Or perhaps help limit some of the hours requirements by some companies. We need some help, but unions aren't the answer.

What about the Big 3? (1)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311449)

Well, unionization did wonders for the Big 3 U.S. automakers. The workers got crazy good benefits ($0 healh premiums!) and pension deals. Now G.M. and Ford are going under and those worker compensation packages are becoming increasingly worthless. Of course, this situation isn't entirely to blame on unions (Big Auto didn't pay squat into the pension funds in the early days), but when a significant portion of yearly earnings are paying for retired employees, something's gotta give.

Union? (3, Insightful)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311454)

Did unions protect steel workers? Or textile workers or airline employees here in the US?

Steel and textiles are pretty much gone from the US. Why do you think an IT union would
stop offshoring?

Unions don't matter in that respect. What does matter is a legal/tax structure which
encourages corporations to ship work overseas. Not to mention a system that favors
large corporations over smaller ones.

If you want to protect jobs, then ban multi-national and even multi-state corporations.
Then put back the limits that a corporation can only work in the one field it was originally incorporated for.

Nope. (1)

icleprechauns (660843) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311457)

I would be against unions (at least ones for developers). In the short term, they definitely pay off, however, the long-run repercussions tend to be disastrous: often times unions become too constraining for a company, and they outsource their work. I'm not all too worried about outsourcing for developers right now, despite all the hype, but the potential threat is there. That said, I wouldn't have a problem with a more liberal union that doesn't try to suffocate the life-blood out of a company's revenues. For example, one that tries to prevent layoffs instead of one that forces unfair raises (I've heard that Detroit car factory employees in a union make about $50k starting, which is about how much a computer science major makes - that seems a little unfair).

Unions Aren't What they used to be. (1)

dal11 (831361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311459)

As a Teamster I see first hand how crippled organised labor has become. A job gurantee it's not. And this is just for plain ol'laborer's, the tech world is totaly different job structer, there would have to be an overhaul of how a union would be organised for anything to be effective,. That's not happeneing any time soon, with the poloticians on the corporations payroll.

You know... (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311460)

It's not like unionization is necessarily contradictory to free markets, nor is it necessarily aligned with the statism the author seems to think it demands. In a free market, workers can come up with whatever individual or group demands they want, and employers can take or leave them.

not really needed for software developers (1)

swanriversean (928620) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311463)

I can't bother RTFA; my own personal view of things makes me not want to be part of a union.

But larger than that, for a software developer (which is what I am) you usually don't need the company any more than it needs you, and often times it is the other way around. If I were to get "right-sized" and couldn't find any other work (which doesn't seem to be a problem at the moment) I could always start my own company. The barriers to entry in the software field are relatively low (just look at Google, or even Microsoft).

Unions have played an important role in society (although the value they add in the western world may be questioned at present), but that doesn't mean that just because some group of workers who is largely un-unionized needs to become unionized.

Good Ol' Unions (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311468)

"Sorry, I belong to the Data Base Administrators Union, if you want someone to edit that startup shell script you'll need to get someone from the System Administrators Union."

At least those are the horror stories we used to hear about the old industrial trade-unions, a Carpenter could not touch a pipe, even for a simple job like tightening a joint. You HAD to get a plumber or face industrial action (strike).

Even the threat of a union is a good thing (2, Insightful)

gluteus (307087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311469)

One of the best classes I ever took in Engineering was Industrial Relations, delivered by an engineer who worked at GM for many years. His take was the best thing management could do to reduce a union's power is to treat employees well enough that they wouldn't want or need a union. What a concept! Give them good wages and benefits and don't screw them over, and they won't want to pay union dues.

Good management will think that way. The result is a talented, hard-working, happy, dedicated, and loyal work force. That's the step between 1. Steal Underpants and 3. Profit!

The Cry of the Socialist (0)

beldraen (94534) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311484)

-rant- It's the same every time: Guy on top doesn't deserve the money, the little guy has no say. Bull$h!t. The guy on the bottom doesn't have the balls to quit, create a company, and run it in the way they feel.

And, that is exactly what I am doing. I decided several years ago that I did not like the way I was treated nor the way employees were treated. So, I left. I am about to graduate with a dual-degree (MIS and Accounting). I believe a lot of companies do not invest enough in their employees and believe that if I create such a company, I can grab the best talent and employees in the process.

It boils down to this: you either believe in capitalism or you don't. I am NOT saying that companies should be allowed to do anything they want (lazzi faire capitalism), but there is a reason why some people do get paid more than others: he or she was willing to take a risk and effort do something that this writter wasn't--get off their ass and make something in this world like they want.

You can't both be employeed to be a worker and believe you get to call all the shots. -/rant-

Harris Miller for Senate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311490)

If you want to stop Unionization and promote outsourcing and more guest workers, the ITAA's Harris Miller [miller2006.org] is your man for Senate in Virginia :

Here's what the unions have to say about him ... Harris Miller's public record attacking unions and working Americans is shocking and well documented. Miller has publicly opposed unions and has been a leading proponent of outsourcing American jobs. He has been a lobbyist for some of the biggest anti-union corporate entities in America. He supported George Bush's tax cuts to the rich. He has given personal campaign contributions to some of the biggest Republican anti-union members of Congress including Spencer Abraham and John Sununu. Miller even supported anti-union Attorney General John Ashcroft. Harris Miller is no friend of working Virginians," said Panvini. source : http://www.raisingkaine.com/frontPage.do?nextDiary Id=2 [raisingkaine.com]

There's more ...

Needless to say Miller is truly one of the bad guys. Over and over again on core issues like trade, immigration, overtime protections and privatization of federal jobs, he's not only been on the wrong side, he's been galvanizing corporate efforts against us.

As the state AFL-CIO and the labor councils throughout the state embark on their candidate assessment process, I hope they will take into consideration Miller's anti-labor, anti-worker activities and find him unfit for any kind of labor support.
source: http://www.raisingkaine.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2 100 [raisingkaine.com]

A couple of points should be made about this... (1)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311493)

First.... I don't mean to be flippant, but why do the IT postings regarding this to continue to regard themselves as either:

1. The sole class of people these actions are happening to
2. The class of people who it's the "worst" for

If it continues, I'm going to start calling it the "IT Victimization Syndrome".

Unionization isn't going to help IT any more than it helped the car industry. In fact, it would hurt you far more. You don't have billions in legacy equipment that is simply to costly to give up like auto companies do. It's pretty hard to outsource nursing.

All it takes to dump most IT guys (from a manager's point of view) is turning off their computers and revoking their access. Then you turn on a computer in a lower cost country. It's a nasty fact, but a fact non-the-less. If an IT worker wants to survive, he's going to have to move out of what has essentially become a service industry. Move into on-site support (very limited, I know) or move into management where the IT decisions are made and the sent to India etc. for implementation.

Goal of Unions (1)

Stalyn (662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311497)

The traditional goal of unions was an avenue for workers to achieve political goals. The greatest asset a worker has is his labor. Even more so for those who are greatly skilled. In a time when the politicians put aside the interests of the people for the interests of big business the power of strong unions becomes more apparent.

For example I assume the vast majority of Tech workers are against the NSA spying program. If there was some organization within the Tech worker community they could speak with once voice. They could have a one-day walk-out in protest. Of course there might be a backlash, people would get angry because they can't use the Internet for one day or get their computer fixed. But that's what standing for something means. You stand for a belief in the face of risk and those who will go against you.

Change of Mind (1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311498)

A year ago, I would've said no, and very firmly.

I'm not so sure anymore.

The problem with unions isn't the unions per se, it often is what they've become. Unions nowadays are often very much like the corporations they allegedly fight. They have hierarchies, and the top people are more managers than anything else.

A firm no to that kind of union.

But a fresh union, now that might be something. And there are many good arguments in favour of unions. One of the most important being that a union and a large enough group of organized workers can put a kind of pressure on a company that you simply can't get any other way.

And in IT, we might have even more power than in other areas. Only transport is as immediately noticeable, but it hits the public. If any modern companies' IT systems were down for the day, they could pretty much close up until the strike is over.

Bigger disparity between producers and dead weight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311501)

I think unions can survive in an environment where the disparity between the star producers, regular contributors, and dead weight span a 3:1:0 ratio. It seems to me that even the most productive blue-collar worker can only produce at most 3 times that of the typical worker (and I think that's a generous ratio).

In IT, particularly with programming, I think the ratio is probably more like 20:1:0... It's hard to imagine unionizing in that context -- why would the star performer want to support the regulars and lock himself to the wage structure of the non-stars? Similarly, the average person in a non-union position will have an incentive to improve his skills to become a star (in a way the blue-collar workers cannot) -- so being in a union would hurt the regular guy, too.

if they could stop corporate abuse (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311509)

I don't know if I would join a union. I once belonged to one in a PPG glass factory -- we made Anderson Twindows (actually a pretty cool thing). But, the work wasn't too hard, and the pay (for that market) was pretty good.

You could argue the salary and conditions were a result of the union. That is probably true. But, as power grows, so does (did, seemingly) abuse.

We were up for new contract and the union came so close to putting us on the streets. They were demanding a cut back of the number of glass "lines" each worker ran per shift. As it was at the time, I was barely able to fill much more than four hours of real work in an 8-hour shift, and now I almost had to strike because the union wanted to bust balls with the company on this.

I know sometimes it's about putting a stake in the ground way out to reach certain compromises, but this seemed off the scale.

If IT wanted to unionize it would have to be with sanity. I'm not a big fan of seniority being the only yardstick for who stays and who goes when there are cutbacks (more on that in a moment). An IT union worth its salt would allow for hearings and maybe prevent arbitrary and massive layoffs.

Which brings me to an abuse I only figured out 2 years after getting laid off from a major telcom:

Part of my severance package was one months pay for every year I'd been there, with a maximum payout of 10 months. I'd been there for 21 years, so with my 60 day notice and severance, it might seem generous that I'd be getting one year of pay. But why would any employee with only ten years get the same benefit? That didn't seem fair.

Turns out, part of the contract for getting and keeping the severance requires the employee to honor what amounts to a gag order... no bad mouthing the company, and no legal proceedings against the company or they would take all of the money back.

Coincidentally it turns out that the statute of limitations for EEOC actions against a company is 300 days which conveniently happens to be 10 months. Aha! So, the company skates with what (IMO) amounts to hush money and looks generous at the same time. (for those who would claim these were generous terms, consider there are many hidden "costs" to the 20+ year employees, including but not limited to: health care coverage and costs, pension changes)

If unions had the power to change that kind of treatment, I'd consider them.

Empirical evidence in recent news suggests though (e.g., United Airlines, et al. where pensions have been handed over in default to the government) unions ultimately have little power to stem corporate abuse. The rich will continue to get richer, the poor will continue to have babies.


JOIN an IT Union? (1)

astapleton (324242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311514)

Heck, I'm one wrong-footing-by-executive-management-appeasing-st ockholders from STARTING a union at my workplace! Sure, unions have their problems like carrying deadweight employees and tendencies toward corrupt practices, but all in all they prevent large corporations from abusing staff by providing a unified front that forces companies to treat its own employees as VALUABLE assets, not expendable resources.

Go ahead, join a union... (1)

XMilkProject (935232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311527)

You can join your union... And when you all go on strike I'll fire everyone and pick up a new batch of VB6 programmers from the local radio shack.

How do you view yourself (1)

ygbsm (158794) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311528)

Are you a mechanic or an engineer - do you simply plan on working 8-5, with 30 minutes for lunch and 2 15 minutes breaks - or do you see yourself as a professional with a career. If you're a professional with a career (where I see myself) then find a new job if you boss is an unreasonable jerk (note- we're at essentially full employment - if there aren't jobs where you live, then move). If you see yourself as a mechanic, looking for an 8-5 for 30 years - you might want to wake up, that dream died in the 70s. Trust me, I'm originally from northern Ohio - I've seen the corpse. Time to move on . . .

More obstacles than advantages (2, Insightful)

analog_line (465182) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311530)

Frankly, in order for an IT union to get any real traction, you would have to unionize just about everyone in the world that's qualified, because outsourcing is so easy. Quality may suffer for a short period of time, but knowing what the IT people I know would try to demand, it would be cheaper to pour money into training of foreign workers than to cave to an IT union's demand.

Unions are organized and stay organized easier when the job cannot, at all, be exported. In-store workers, miners, hospitality workers, truck drivers, etc. I can't have someone in China clean my office in New York. I can employ a code monkey in China to code for my business in New York. In America, quality is job none, just look at the abysmal performance of our big car companies. Americans don't care about quality, they want cheap, and that's just what we'll be given. No IT union is going to be able to fight that.

Unions Suck - I'm dealing with one now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15311535)

I'm renovating a building. The only real local contractor is NOT union, and they have voted in the past and don't want to be. I hired them to do the renovation.

The union office from two hours away showed up trying to pass out flyers at an elementary school a block away stating that because my contractor wasn't doing things right that all the kids had been exposed to asbestos.

It's a crock of bull, I've even had state inspectors out and got the all-clear and have all permits for removing the non-airborne asbestos roofing material from the building. It's all politics of the union trying to scare and/or strongarm the local contractor and of course dissuade anyone from hiring them.

I would NEVER want to be associated with any "union" that attempts to hurt small local economies because they didn't pay up union fees. It's racketeering if you ask me.

i had this idea, but it won't work (2, Insightful)

buhatkj (712163) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311536)

i had this idea years ago, but i realized it won't work, because there are so many kinds of IT work, it would be impossible to come up with standards, and it wouldn't have the results we want.
the union would end up run my business guys anyway, then it would just be working for a company within a company. still all sorts of dumbass crap we'd be told to do.

no, the answer is just to work for people who have a recent IT background in the first place. that way at least they might understand what's worth doing, and what isn't.

we could form some form of labor organization, but the union style is not appropriate for us. coding anyway, is more like a production art discipline than anything else, maybe a guild? this was suggested before...more plausible than a union anyway.

never go wrong with a union (1)

dukerobinson (624739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311544)

Workers in any industry must unite to wrest power from the bourgeoisie. Extracting profit from labor is immoral. If you develop technology, it's your technology -- not theirs. You do the work, they sit back and let their money do their work. They do not deserve it. They are stealing from you. Band together and take back what was yours to begin with.

I'm setting up an IT workers union! (1)

keithy (227572) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311550)

I was thinking of calling it the commercial union of networking technicians

whaddayathink ;)

Cuz its working so well for the UAW!! (1)

bhv (178640) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311551)

Unions can't stop jobs from going overseas. If the Auto-giants can move production to other countries, considering the rigors they have to go through with logistics and construction etc., moving Tech jobs would be a breeze. Just ramp down one set of offices and ramp up another, mission accomplished.

IT Workers are NOT Laborers in ANY sense. (1)

lwagner (230491) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311570)

Techies? Laborers? Does anyone here have the audacity to equate sitting at a computer, eating Fritos and Dew, reading Slashdot, and helping someone with his or her computer to getting atop large steel-framed buildings with nary a safety net or crawling into dirty, polluted mines?

All you have to do to get a white collar, well-paid tech job is this: clean up your act, shave your pony tail, dress nicely, and be FRIENDLY so that people actually ENJOY your presence.

I can speak from experience. No sane company lays off competent, insanely friendly IT people. These folks are the last to go. If you're a smug, unkempt, incompetent dork who hates everyone, your days in IT are limited -- try to unionize... what competent IT person is going to want to be affiliated with you? Why would they want to stick up for you?

Unions -- please make it happen (1)

MaximusTheGreat (248770) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311571)

Puting myself in shoes of an company in India, here is what I would be thinking right now --
Please, Oh! please unionize. Increase your costs further so that the software we make gets comparably even cheaper India and and we can take over the world....

Unions Drive Industries Into The Ground (1)

ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311575)

There are two things that kill whole industries: Government and Unions. Don't believe me?

Railroad? Check.
Airlines? Check.
Automotive? Check.

The only reason construction isn't dying is that we need it more than most. Try getting a job from the local musicians union. That doesn't work either. While there may be some benifits, 9 times of ten they only cause more problems, more disputes, and more hassles for their workers.

No (1)

SmileeTiger (312547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15311576)

Here is where I stand: If a union for developers' starts where I work I will start looking for another job.

I worked for a union telecom company while I was going to university and my feeling is that they only serve to protect workers who don't really want to work hard and move fast. Heck if I was working for a union company right now there is no way I would get paid what I do since it's a fair bit above the average pay for my job level.
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