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Tech Workers of the World Unite? 1254

Posted by Zonk
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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Tech Workers of the World Unite?

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  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:30PM (#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.
  • Shhh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitalamish (449285) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:33PM (#15311351)
    Don't give the suits yet another reason why offshoring is a better alternative.
  • Simple Solution! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBraynard (653724) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:34PM (#15311359) Journal
    the shareholder is valued more than the employee

    Maybe the employee should buy some shares.

  • Join a union? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaHat (247651) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:34PM (#15311364) Homepage
    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.
  • Depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:35PM (#15311375) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • Heck no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by outZider (165286) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:37PM (#15311403) Homepage
    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.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:37PM (#15311407) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:38PM (#15311415) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:39PM (#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.
  • Union: No thanks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaladorn (514293) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:40PM (#15311441) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by psyberjedi (650736) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#15311451) Journal
    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?
  • by AppyPappy (64817) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#15311452)
    The union's job is to screw you out of money. I don't see the difference.
  • Union? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isotope23 (210590) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#15311454) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#15311460) Journal
    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.
  • by gluteus (307087) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#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!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:43PM (#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?
  • by gorehog (534288) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:43PM (#15311491)
    Sure, IT workers LOVE to change jobs, they dont WANT job security. They'd rather be the migrant workers of the middle class.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@gmaiSLACKWAREl.com minus distro> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:45PM (#15311509) Journal

    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.

    Sigh.

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:46PM (#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.
  • by analog_line (465182) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:47PM (#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.
  • by buhatkj (712163) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:47PM (#15311536) Homepage
    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.
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:48PM (#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.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:49PM (#15311552) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by ScottLindner (954299) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:50PM (#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.
  • by Churla (936633) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:51PM (#15311577)
    I have been working in the IT field since before the boom. From field work to tech support desks.

    The union idea comes up about every 2-3 years. Then it fades again. Most of the commentary here is from programmers who don't want to see some slacker next to them riding comfy while they work hard. Programming jobs should be contract for just that reason.

    Unions would help the rank and file workers who are far more at the support and field engineer/help desk end of the spectrum. I have seen companies let people leave and not hire replacements for 2 and a half years while praising themselves for "never having a layoff", and review processes where your actual performance seems to affect the outcome about as much as telling your cat to fetch.

    Just something to think about if you're only seeing this from the "leet coder" perspective.
  • by benzapp (464105) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:52PM (#15311598)
    The guy on the bottom doesn't have the balls to quit, create a company, and run it in the way they feel.

    Name one company anyone can start that simply requires "balls".

    Last time I checked, starting a company required money. Money to rent an office, pay for computers, employees, and a host of other operating expenses an idiot like you couldn't even appreciate it.
  • by Colonel Angus (752172) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:56PM (#15311648)
    Oh how that statement rings true with me.

    Several years back I was employed as a webmaster (I hate that job title, too) at an ad agency here. I quit a decent job that paid an hourly wage for this new job that was salary and almost double the pay. It seemed a no-brainer.

    The company had been around for 20some years and had had contracts with some of Canada's biggest banks and agricultural companies.

    Well, about 3 months into my job I discovered that things weren't going so well for this company. To be honest, I'm not even sure why they hired for this position if that was the case, but that's neither here nor there.

    In a nutshell, 8 months later I was laid off (rightsized, downsized -- whatever they want to call it) and didn't really think much of it.

    Then a few months passed. Then it was half a year. Not a single reply from any of the resumes sent out. Then it was a year.

    It was three years before I was employed in the tech field again. I was unemployed for over a year at which point I went back to school and was lucky enough to snag a really nice job right out of the program.

    So just quitting the job might be great if you live in a large urban center where jobs are aplenty (even there it's tough to get work), but in anything short of that finding a job that remunerates at a level that you can continue your mortgage payments and kids' needs is damn hard.
  • We get paid well for doing what we like.

    When adjusted for inflation, I stopped being paid well for doing what I like about 8 years into the industry. Since then, my wages adjusted for inflation have been falling.
  • by Fatchap (752787) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:02PM (#15311728)
    Why would I want the playing field artificially leveled? My playing field greatly favors me because I am better at my job than most people. A collective bargaining agreement would end that advantage. I could only do as well as anyone else.

    Unions are great at representing manual workers who perform repetitive tasks and who have a very horizontal organisation structure. If there are 100 people on your production line reporting to one supervisor even if you churn out more gizmos than anyone else you do not stand much of a chance at becoming the supervisor. Hence why it is in your interest to bargain collectively and have all of your standards raised.

    If on the other hand your job involves a high level of innovation and metal agility these attributes may well contribute to you rising through an organisation. Such organisations are often far more vertical in structure. In this case, it is unlikely that you would benefit from collective bargaining where the curve is straightened out.
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:05PM (#15311766) Journal
    Coincidentally, the article was written by the whiniest, least productive member of the Wired Staff, the guy who writes the "Luddite" column, and who, on a site full of people who often make me grit my teeth, stands out as a clear leader in the spouting of irrational crap.

    I'm in an industry that is very heavily unionized, and all I see is crap coming out of it. It is a system that rewards inertia, inefficency, and placeholding. And I'm speaking as a guy with a wife and family, and as someone whose department has been hacked in half in the last year, so don't give me crap about me "not understanding the plight of the american IT worker".

    It's a cutthroat, high stress business, and we're competitive because we're cutthroat high stress people...Turn that into a system of sinecures and self-important jackasses who think they're entitled to excellent treatment just because their fat ass is already in the spot? The idea makes me sick.

    This isn't a business where you can just walk in off the street, pick up a hammer, and get to work. You have to study, you have to work, you have to be skilled. If you are those things, you may still not find a job...But at least it won't be because some less skilled, less dilligent, less educated person can't be fired because of his union connections.

    Talk socialism? Right now, today, in this business, we're actually in a position to create value from powerful, freely available tools. The workers control the means of production! It's the fricking socialist dream! You want that and free doughnuts too?
  • by Vyvyan Basterd (972007) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:05PM (#15311773)
    What really gets me about people like the top post is that union bashers never seem to have any problems with corporations. You know, where a group of people band together to create something bigger than they could do on their own. Yeah, that's _so_ different from those communistic union bastards.
  • by zullnero (833754) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:06PM (#15311783) Homepage
    I've been kicking it around for years. It has nothing to do with being lazy, it has everything to do with protecting yourself from managers who questionably violate labor laws without ending up with you being fired. Especially if you're right out of college and you have no idea what to do when your manager tries to work you 70-80 hours a week with no overtime. That's basically a sweatshop, but it definitely happens and I've been in that situation.

    Of course, those who've been around the industry for years and have built up a reputation...and thus, have no difficulty switching jobs and/or maintaining work will obviously not see anything wrong. However, when I broke into the industry after college, I took a software development job with a Fortune 500 thinking it would be good experience...and I was paid like crap. And disposed of like crap after a year of hard work that generally met or surpassed most expectations. I mean, I got a good letter of recommendation out of it...which got me another job that lasted a year, and I was laid off (and even had that company try and contest my unemployment benefits).

    I saw a lot of other guys fare much worse in the first few years, guys who I knew weren't bad engineers at all...maybe not the best suckups, but they got their work done. However, young engineers are seen as a dime a dozen by management, and are easily replaceable. Heck, even after working in the industry for years, I've had to get dirty in legal fights for paychecks with various telecommute contracts I've had.

    Another thing unions can do is prevent companies from forcing employees to work ridiculous work weeks, so potentially, they can mate and reproduce. They can prevent managers from working visaholders like literal slaves, then holding them up as examples to force their citizenship holding employees into working similiar hours (many times for nothing). Instead of hiring engineers on full-time with the full intent of requiring them to work more than 40 hours a week, they would need to hire them on as contract or provide for overtime. (Or at least give the employee someone to report such behavior to other than the labor department...which can make things really ugly when it's you against your company.)

    There are a lot of good benefits to being unionized, as long as the union isn't too horribly corrupt. Most engineers can join the AFL-CIO, however...well, that sort of fails that requirement.
  • by avi33 (116048) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:07PM (#15311803) Homepage
    Can I flag TFA as Troll?

    My family has always been pretty pro-union, mostly on account of my grandfather:

    -NOT being issued shop glasses (he was a drill press operator in automobile production)
    -NOT being allowed to bring his own
    -being injured on the job
    -being administered by a substandard alcoholic 'company doctor' who promptly removed one of his eyes and hacked up the other one
    -being fired without compensation
    -eventually being re-hired at an ornamental job and given a $10,000 payoff to drop the whole thing.

    In addition, there were stories of so-and-so's family having to buy the boss' groceries, or so-and-so's sister having to 'deliver' them, if you know what I mean. It was enough to make most of his kids go out and get their heads busted in fighting for the right to assemble a union.

    I'm not going to get into where that particular institution has gotten itself today, but for this knucklehead to equate that with today's tech workers is ridiculous. Where was he when a crop of English majors called themselves 'programmers' and 'project managers' and started making $50-60k right out of college? When the company soda was flowing, foozball was an HR necessity, and the break room had a couch and a Playstation?

    What exactly are the author's demands? That we be offered guaranteed jobs for life? That'll work, just ask GM and Delphi. With the possible exception of game developers, I don't think I've ever known a great programmer that felt 'exploited' for very long. Between my wife and I, we've been hit by one round of layoffs and dodged at least 6 others. If any of our past employers had been prevented from trimming the fat by union regulations, the entire operation would have folded up sooner.

    And besides, some of my best freelance jobs were put together with fellow layoff victims...does that mean that I turned from a proletariat to a robber baron overnight?

    There are plenty of problems with a handful of executives doing the insource/outsource swing every couple years, and playing games with people's careers in the process, but is a union going to fix that? Only if they break a bunch of other things in the process.

  • by sfjoe (470510) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:07PM (#15311806)
    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.

    The biggest battle that unions have to fight is the battle against the FUD that the corporations (including corporate-run media) has been putting out. Just read all this misinformation that various posters are spreading based on no actual, firsthand knowledge of what a union does or can do.
  • by Loundry (4143) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:10PM (#15311835) Journal
    Last time I checked, starting a company required money. Money to rent an office, pay for computers, employees, and a host of other operating expenses an idiot like you couldn't even appreciate it.

    If you don't have money, then it's your responsibility to find someone who does have money and convince that person that your idea, talent, and hard work are worth their investment. This happens all the time. I should know: I've been the money guy for just such a person.

    Or, alternatively, you could sit around and whine about "the rich" in their evil "McMansions" and talk about how a union could use some good old fashioned force to just take money from those rich bastards. Perhaps you do this because your idea, talent, and hard work aren't good enough to merit investment.
  • Re:Heck no. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theodicey (662941) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:10PM (#15311843)
    Unions, unlike corporations, are democratic. They foster whatever you want them to foster.

    If you end up with a lousy union that cripples your employer, you have only yourselves to blame.

    If your employer cripples itself through ineptitude, though, you're still SOL.

  • "make your own"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackwrench (573697) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:11PM (#15311850) Homepage Journal
    No you don't make your own, you have to bargain for it, and that's where collective bargaining comes in.
  • i vote yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pintomp3 (882811) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:12PM (#15311867)
    i know i may be the only yes vote here, but i see unions as a necassary evil. an evil to counter the greater evil of greedy management. yeah, there are side-effects like mediocrity and what not. but without unions, we would not have a middle class in this country. we would be stuck in the early days of the industrial revolution where workers were just rats to be killed off when the bottom line (or extra mansion) called for it. some argue that unions only protect the lazy, but they protect everyone. all you union haters should try working at a place like walmart. you will be thrilled by their anti-union stance.
  • by LordKazan (558383) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:12PM (#15311869) Homepage Journal
    Leveled between the employees and the company, not between the employees. Beyond that your post because a bunch of BS that even cursory study of the history of even skilled labor shows to be bullocks.
  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:12PM (#15311872)
    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.

    But you probably have no problem belonging to an organization that fires people who do contribute.

    And of course, you will fail to acknowledge the inconsistency between those two opinions.

    The fact is, when the PHBs numbers aren't going to be favorable, then your job may be on the chopping block.

    Yes, because management is always right. It is never wrong to fire someone. Never.

    But with the same sentiment, when it comes times for initial salary negotiations, take the gloves off, and _fight for every penny_.

    And get fired for not being a team player. Nice try.

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:13PM (#15311885) Homepage Journal
    Why would I want the playing field artificially leveled? My playing field greatly favors me because I am better at my job than most people. A collective bargaining agreement would end that advantage. I could only do as well as anyone else.

    Well said. I agree; the playing field looks just fine from where I'm sitting, and I damn well don't need anyone jiggering around and propping up the low end of it, thanks very much.

    If I had wanted a lowest-common-denominator, unionized job, I would have gone to trade school, become a machinist, and made auto parts for a living. Oh wait -- all those companies, that whole freaking industry is going out of business in this country, because of the way the Unions have driven the cost of production through the roof. I hope they've had a good run, because they've collective-bargained themselves out of a job.

    And that's exactly what would happen in the technology sector, except it wouldn't take half a century for the jobs to start to disappear, it would take half a decade -- and that's at the most. We already have a problem getting businesses to not outsource tech jobs to places where the cost-of-living is a lot lower, and now people want to unionize and make that even higher? It's insane.

    Joining a union is about as appealing to me as chaining myself to a half a dozen people who can't swim and jumping into a lake.
  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:15PM (#15311900)
    Perhaps you should have considered your family plans in your financial plans.

    Perhaps business should take some responsibility, like everyone else has to.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:15PM (#15311908) Homepage Journal
    I am in an union.

    I am a software programmer, and until last year I had worked non-union corporations fore many years.

    The only across the board raise is a rate increase to help offset inflation.
    I worked for a place for 4 years, when you adjust for inflation I was making less then when I started.

    There are merit raises for people who are good at their job. Also, a bonus for the exceptional. No one I work with is 'lazy' or a 'slacker'. Dedicated, smart, hardworking people who want to go home at the end of the day and not worry that their job will be cut so the books will look nice for an aqusition.

    Another advantage of a union is your not going to get 'laid off' because you hold an unfavorable opinion, or point out things people don't want to hear.

    It prevents the 'Do this now, or your fired' mentality.

    It mean getting paid for coming in and working on the weekend.

    While itis more difficult to get rid of a slacker, it's not impossible by any stretch.
    It means managment is responsible as well as the programmer.

    I could accept an offer from a large non union corporation today, and make more money, but I don't want the job to be my life.

    "Let your feet do the talking and get the hell out of there."
    Easier said then done.
    Corporation are treating their IT employess worse and worse.
    Many communties don't ahve an unlimited amount of jobs.
    Changing jobs makes your resume less and less desirable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:16PM (#15311914)
    "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."

    So form a directly democratic union, like the IWW [iww.org]. Then nobody can force you to do anything.

    The big unions suck the same way most companies and governments suck. Nobody listens to you, you have no real power, and the people at the top are out to take you for whatever they can.
  • by hlh_nospam (178327) <concealedhandgun@gmail. c o m> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:16PM (#15311918) Homepage Journal
    The union's job is to screw you out of money.

    Close. The 1st priority of any union's leadership is to make sure that the union members are unhappy. Happy workers don't want a union. Whatever problems exist in tech employment, unionization is not the answer.

    In any case, the government has been bought off on this one. With the current government-encouraged abuse of the H1-b system, programming will be a McJob by the end of the decade, and that isn't very far off. My solution to the problem is to build a business that I hope will support me [celtic-fiddler.com] before that happens. Best part of that is that I enjoy teaching young children how to play the violin a lot better than I like putting up with the attitude that all programmers are fungible.

  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:21PM (#15311976)
    Lots of us are concerned that unions cause the downfall of corporations and the loss of massive number of jobs to foreign countries.

    14% of the work force is unionized. Most are government workers.

    What's the Dow at today?

    How many outsourced jobs?

    Here's a fact: 50% of working-age adults are NOT employed in full-time, salaried jobs.

    Fifty.

    Percent.

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:22PM (#15311981) Homepage Journal
    There is no such thing as a permanent job, and you're naive if you believed that.

    Employment is an agreement between two parties, the employer and the employee. It only works as long as both people think they're getting a good deal: your employer thinks that your output is worth what they're paying you, and you (the employee) think that your pay is worth your labor.

    If one or both parties don't feel that way, it's not going to last.

    This myth that people have of "lifetime employment," where somehow an organization owes you something because you've been there for a set period of time, is a load of crap. Your employer doesn't owe you a thing besides your paycheck and whatever other benefits you have in writing.

    If you stayed at your job when you didn't feel that the pay was worth your labor, then you were a fool, and I'm sorry to hear you made a mistake. You should have left. Institutions aren't deserving of any feelings of "loyalty," since they have none in return. A corporation feels nothing when it fires the 30-year veteran or the 6-month temp hire.

    Any system that tries to mandate less flexibility -- making it harder for workers to join or leave companies, or harder for companies to take on or get rid of employees -- makes the business climate less competitive versus other places where such restrictions don't exist. And as a country, the LAST thing we need to be doing right now is making ourselves less competitive with regards to the rest of the world.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:27PM (#15312041) Homepage Journal
    Unions fundamentally don't work when dealing with a highly heterogeneous, creativity-driven workplace. They are designed for labor forces with little to no specialization and little to no creativity. Yes, there's a good bit of difference between someone who welds the frame on cars and someone who snaps on trim, but the difference between someone who welds the frame and someone who welds some part of the exhaust system is minimal, and there are a large number of people doing each individual task, all managed by a relatively limited number of managers (foremen).

    In the technical world, at every company where I've worked, my pay is, to a large extent, determined by my immediate manager on an individual basis. To some extent, the lower level management is limited by upper management in terms of total expenditure, but pay raises are much more a small group decision than in... say a factory or even in a university. The problem is that collective bargaining doesn't buy you much in such an environment, and what it does buy you is likely to be overshadowed by the union dues.

    Add to this the fact that it costs a huge amount of money to relocate a plant and huge expenses to import, so there are reasons for a manufacturing firm to stay in the U.S. It is, by comparison, relatively easy to export tech jobs to other countries, making the power of strikes (which are the only bargaining chip a union really has) essentially a moot point in the tech sector.

    Finally, I've seen creative industries (not computing) that were union run. Not a pretty sight. They basically try to turn the creative shop into a factory floor in which each person does exactly their job and isn't allowed to have anything to do with anybody else's job. That's not the way tech companies work, that's not the way tech employees want to work, it doesn't allow the individuals to grow in their abilities, and it isn't conducive to producing products that require creativity in their creation. It is a design that is conducive to mass manufacturing. For tech, that closed box thinking is a real hindrance to creativity, and at least to me, a real turn-off. I won't work in a union shop. Period. I doubt I'm the only one.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:29PM (#15312071) Homepage
    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.


    your fault for not being financially solvent. I engineer and program Vantage and Crestron lighting and multimedia control systems as well as write software for PC's connected to such hardware. These are put in High end homes and I constantly see families buying the $450,000.00 home with the 58" plasma TV above the fireplace and the $45,000.00 vantage lighting control system but not have the lower level finished because they cant afford it. After talking to them I learn they really cant afford anything they are buying and if one of them loses thier job they are royally screwed.

    If you can not make your mortgage and basic bills on a little over 1/2 your income then you are living beyond your means and is a stupid thing to do.

    You have a savings to coast you through 6 months of no income right? why not?

    you are driving a car you can actually afford right? affording a car is not the payment, it that plus maintaince and fuel and insurance... Many people drive a BMW that they can not afford and the check engine light has been on for 4 months because they cant afford the service.

    If you cant afford to walk out the door at work right now then you really need to look at your lifestyle and start "tightening up" right now to keep yourself from following the road to stupidity that most americans are following in their finances.

  • by Alascom (95042) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:30PM (#15312088)
    >Mainframe/UNIX Bit Twiddler by day, OS/2+DOS+Linux Hobbyist by night.

    Mainframe? OS/2 for the love of God? No wonder it took you 33 months to find a new job!

    AFWIW, if you have friends in IT that haven't found work since 9/11, here is a clue for them: They are not in IT anymore, and they probably never should have been.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:32PM (#15312105) Homepage Journal
    Leveled between the employees and the company, not between the employees. Beyond that your post because a bunch of BS that even cursory study of the history of even skilled labor shows to be bullocks.

    You'd have a point if most unionized professions didn't also view employees basically as interchangeable units, all deserving of the same compensation for the same hours worked, increasing in value only through "time in grade" based metrics, where as long as you manage to not get fired, every year you get a small raise.

    I've yet to see any unionized employment that really rewarded outstanding performance and recognized that some people are just inherently better at some jobs than others. And generally any attempt to do this is opposed, tooth and nail, by the unions.

    Unions THRIVE on an antagonistic relationship between "boss" and "worker," and intentionally suppress competition between one worker and the next. If you shut up and slog along with everybody else and put in your time, you can't be fired and you get your raises with your "seniority." After you put in enough years, you get retirement. It's the same track, everyone's on it, and everybody's the same.

    That's not a system that rewards creativity or superior ability, or any other types of individual differences. It's a system of artificially-enforced equality that has the effect of bringing everyone down to the same level.
  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:32PM (#15312106)
    The only people who need unions are lazy folks, people without foresight, or people without initiative.
    You're either willfully ignoring the historic effects of the labor movement, or you're ignorant of what those effects actually were:
    • 40 hour week/8 hour day (35 hours in much of Europe)
    • Overtime pay
    • Child labor laws
    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Right to a living wage
    • Paid holidays
    • Weekends
    • Health, life, and dental benefits
    • Expectation of a safe work environment (OSHA in the US)
    • Right to quit your job (it was not unheard of for employment contracts to be as strict as today's cellular agreements)
    • Protection from unwarranted dismissal (can't be fired without reasonable cause)
    • Right to organize (form unions)

    Those would not have happened without the labor movement and, specifically, unionized labor. I don't know if you value any of those, but I do. You can certainly argue that trade unions are causing harm today and have reached the end of their usefullness, but I'm not going to stand by while you spit on the men who -- often quite literally -- died for those rights which you now seem to dismiss so readily.

    Of course, some "Right to Work" states in the US have revoked some of these worker rights (yes, it was a misnomer to trick people into voting for it). I'm not even going to touch the stupidity of that one.

    [Note: Yes, I posted a similar list elsewhere.]

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:33PM (#15312125) Homepage Journal
    I took them at their word- that they couldn't afford more salary, and that a PERMANENT job meant PERMANENT (as opposed to, we'll toss you for no reason when we feel like it). But they're liars- just like everybody else in this rotten economy.

    Wow, that's a startling level of naivete on your part. I don't know where you'd go to find an economy that's less "rotten" and would provide the security you seek.

    They don't want the superior job- superior jobs are not respected by stockholders or managment.

    Another stupifyingly naive assertion. Shareholders and management are after profit, which can be achieved a number of ways, depending on the market in question. In a mature industry, cost cutting may well achieve a one-time gain in profit (outsourcing for cheaper labor, and hopefully a minimal reduction in performance). Quite often, however, the road to profit is through expertise and innovation (think Google), which pretty much rules out cheap-labor outsourcing for all but the most mundane tasks.

    I expect them to tell the truth- and pay for it with their lives when they don't.

    I'm thinking that you need some anger management counseling...
  • by mangu (126918) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:34PM (#15312131)
    you're worth the $2.50/hr your job can be done in India for


    You are worth the lowest value anybody else is charging for what you can do. That's true everywhere for any skill. If all you can do is to clean toilets and a guy from Honduras is willing to do that for $1.00/hr, then that's what your job is worth. Neither unions nor legislation can change that.


    Make it illegal to work for less than a certain amount and you'll see Robert Heinlein's words (in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", 1965) come true: "I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; If I find them too obnoxious, I break them."


    It has been fashionable for the last years for people in the tech sectors of the USA to blame "globalization" for their jobs being exported to other countries and to believe that legislation could change that. Bullshit! Globalization of tech jobs is only a symptom of how the "third world" countries have become more sophisticated. Fifty years ago there were very few engineers in India and China was locked in their Maoist suicide, so American engineers thought there was something special about their skills. Today, after the Cold War subsided, people in the third world realized that the best paying jobs demand technical skills.


    The average American engineer isn't so much racially superior in his intelligence that it would matter when doing a technical job, what counts in the end is the bottom line. And the bottom line says the Indian engineer can charge less for his job because his cost of living is less. Protectionism, coming from either the government or the union, will not change that.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:36PM (#15312165) Homepage Journal
    There's nothing libertarian about a disorganized labor sector. Unions are organizations among workers, not a government. Libertarians stand for freedom from government control - and corporate control, too, which unions can provide. Libertarians stand against unions which control people, but those are much less common than governments, corporation and other management that controls people. Especially in the absence of a union, disorganized laborers' liberty is defenseless in the world of corporate and government control.
  • by Carnildo (712617) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:40PM (#15312214) Homepage Journal
    Union? I suppose Jeff and I could form a union, and picket Mick's office for higher wages, but we'd feel rather silly doing it.
  • by Frymaster (171343) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:41PM (#15312226) Homepage Journal
    Business has the same responsibilities as the people.

    wrong.

    business has one responsibility: to make profit for their shareholders. if that means firing you, okay. if that means shipping your job overseas, fine. if that means violating any labour law they can get away with (or afford to get caught for), sure.

    if you don't like that you have three options:

    1. whinge and complain but, bascially do nothing about and pray your boss doesn't hear you being 'ungrateful'
    2. start your own company so you can be the person shipping jobs overseas and reaping the profit
    3. unionize
    this is the way the economy runs for steelworkers and the way it runs for programmers. period.
  • by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:43PM (#15312254) Homepage Journal
    Did you miss the memo about the gaming industry [livejournal.com] (Followup here [slashdot.org])?

    Sure, unions are often used for wage disputes; which is not much of a problem in the IT world as in the bluer-collar world. You don't see many full-time IT personnel talking about fair-wage increases much.

    But what you do see are horrible work environments, tacit and explicit requirements to work constant overtime, abuse of salaried staff, poor medical coverage/leave for RSI-type injuries, crappy vacation plans with constant on-call status... (what do you mean you're at the beach? the server's down!!)

    These are all issues that unionization can help.

    Further, IT industry unions could push for standards compliance, and have a real voice in pushing the Microsofts of the world to adopt things like the ODF and, heck, I dunno, maybe better CSS rendering in IE*. There's lots of good reasons to unionize, even in the tech world.

    *(IE7 renders PNGs correctly at least. Welcome to the alpha-blending 21st Century, Bill. Took ya long enough.)
  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:43PM (#15312256) Journal
    Every time my father's contract was up, the union would strike for weeks. Unemployment in Missouri wasn't very good, and I think it still probably stinks. They'd get a little pay raise, maybe a bit more paid time off. This was an every-year thing, because the union would never negotiate a multi-year contract -- no matter how much the local membership wanted one.

    Then the union, seeing how it caused a strike around Christmas with January heating bills coming up and got us that little more money once they guys went back to work, would up the dues. Most of the raise went to the dues most times.

    Then, one day the company couldn't turn a profit. They sold the plant, and the new company just wanted the name. They closed the plant and opened another in another state a few months later. Nearly 300 families had a breadwinner out of work -- mostly primary bread winners. My parents cancelled my plans to enroll in a private boarding school. My sister was worried how she'd afford to go to college. My father went back to work making one third what he had been making. That's because the union insisted he made three times as much as the non-union plant down the street before the closing instead of a mere twice as much.

    Yes, the union did help someone financially -- the union bosses were well compensated, and probably went on to close bigger and better funded plants through other locals later.
  • by monopole (44023) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:45PM (#15312269)
    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.

    Oh yeah, doing manual labor in a rail yard in summer's heat and winter's cold till you're 55 years old! Why don't you drop that rough programming job and sign up for the transit authority? Just because you can be outsourced at the drop of the hat doesn't mean that you should hate on folks that have real leverage cause they unionized.
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:50PM (#15312329)
    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.

    Being a proper nerd, I have no family obligations, no mortgage, and a $425K rainy-day fund.

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

    If someone in India can do my job for $2.50/hr, then bring it on, baby! Just like during the dot-com land rush in the US, most of the Indian IT workers are basically incompetent. Outsourcers are beginning to figure this out.

    But, regardless, after things settle out, if I can't do my job better than anyone else in the world, then I don't deserve it.
  • by DougLorenz (964249) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:51PM (#15312339)
    The difference between Marxism and Capitalism is easy to define.

    In a capitalist system, employees have to recognize that their success depends on the success of the business, and the best employees will work hard to see their business is successful. This results in the best employees getting better pay, and a better lifestyle.

    In a Marxist system, employees demand an artificial "equality" whether or not the company is successful, and thus don't work very hard to ensure the success of the business. Then when the business or the entire economy fails, they are left scratching their heads as their entire social structure turns on itself. The only equality they achieve is that everyone who subscribes to this delusion becomes equally impoverished.

    Marxists believe that all economy is a zero sum game, if someone is overly successful, then they must be taking it from someone else. Just as they don't understand that a successful economy makes more money for everyone, they also don't understand that striving to damage that economy also causes damage to everyone.

    The dramatic economic growth that has occured from technology has shown us that this economy is definitely NOT a zero-sum game. As technology expands, as new tools are developed, and as business is given the ability to grow, everyone who wishes to try and be a productive part of that society has the opportunity to get an ever-larger piece of the pie.

    Cut the fiber optic cable? Is that really productive?

  • by LunaticTippy (872397) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:51PM (#15312356)
    As for "rotten economy": I have to call FUD on that one. The stock market is near an all time high, and unemployment is near an all time low.

    I'd say that record-breaking national and personal debt and bankruptcy filings and declining or flat inflation-adjusted median income indicate a rotten economy.

    For a portion of the population. It's a good time to be on a corporate board, or to be an executive.

  • by freeweed (309734) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:52PM (#15312368)
    And when adjusted for inflation, I've had nothing but raises for over a decade. Even if I had chosen to stay at the exact same job level, doing the exact same thing, I've have gotten a larger raise than the inflation rate, often by 50% or more. To help that out, I've moved around a bit, taken more challenging work, more responsibility, and have nearly doubled my salary in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, I've seen a steady stream of underperforming, whining, "it's always someone else's fault" employees be fired, laid off, and be outsourced.

    My anecdote trumps yours.
  • by Gilmoure (18428) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:53PM (#15312375) Journal
    Exactly. Wife and I chose to move across the country, after her corporation was bought up, split up and everyone laid off. Took 5 months for me to find a job and 12 months for her but we had savings (now greatly depleted) and were able to make it. And yes, we did have a mortgage and we do have a young daughter as well.

    In the past, you had to plan for Huns or Picts or Hottentots to attack and burn your homestead. now days, you have to be nimble on your feet financially. Different times, different skills.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:53PM (#15312378) Homepage
    "Would you buy gas at $3.00 a gallon when you could go down the street and by it for $.99? Would you pay $5 more for the same sandwhich?"

    And this is why expensive coffee shops like Starbucks have failed while cheaper, smaller businesses thrive in the...

    Oh, wait. Somehow paying $5 for the same sandwich seems to be very popular and the more expensive option is the only one that is making any money. There may be more to the business world than simple analogies.

  • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:54PM (#15312393)
    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.

    You're just a man, and another man can do the job just as well as you can. Where you're from or where you live does not mean you can do a better or worse job then someone who is from or lives elsewhere. Continue thinking you're all that and you'll find that someone is going to come along who will be quite happy to show you your not as special or indispensable as you think you are.
  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:58PM (#15312455)
    Why not start by not using credit cards that charge more than 10%, or perhaps by never carrying a balance?

    The credit card fairy didn't charge those purchases to your card; you or someone you authorized did.
  • by richieb (3277) <richieb@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:58PM (#15312459) Homepage Journal
    business has one responsibility: to make profit for their shareholders. if that means firing you, okay. if that means shipping your job overseas, fine. if that means violating any labour law they can get away with (or afford to get caught for), sure.

    This is how we define public corporations in today's laws. However, the laws that create and govern coorporations have been made by regular people, and we can change the laws if we want.

    There is nothing sacred about the current structure of public corporations.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:59PM (#15312463) Homepage Journal
    Agreed that I was Naive. But on this:

    Institutions aren't deserving of any feelings of "loyalty," since they have none in return. A corporation feels nothing when it fires the 30-year veteran or the 6-month temp hire.

    Then we should be either a) teaching this in grade school, that business people lie through their teeth and can't be trusted at all, or b) not allow such institutions to exist at all.
  • by sp0rk173 (609022) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:00PM (#15312489)
    You're assuming that the $2.50/hr indian programmer will produce a lower quality product. Do you have actual statistical evidence of that? Note that we're not talking call centers here, we're talking coders. I would wager that India has some pretty amazing coders there, as well as some pretty attrocious ones - exactly like in the US. The difference is not quality, it's cost of living. Since someone can live a fairly decent life in India working for much less money than someone in the US can, India (or most of the former Soviet blok states, or Pakistan, or any number of other developing countries) will always win out, and quality difference will most likely, on average, be negligable.

    What a Union would do is get the company you're working for to pledge in a legally-binding way that they will not farm the job you are doing to people in some developing country that can do the same quality of work for far, far less. It may be short sighted, it may run the company into the ground in the long run...but, hey, you chose to be someone else's programming bitch, instead of getting a real job.
  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:06PM (#15312561)
    If you focus on heavily unionized businesses like auto production or the airline industry, you see corporate failures and bankruptcy

    You'll also find a bunch of executives with massive salaries and bonuses, who continued to receive them while leading the company into the ground.

    The problems at auto companies and airlines are not labor costs. Toyota is paying very high labor costs in Japan, yet still profitable. The three things that are killing these companies is 1. Executive incompetence/short-term greed, 2. Executive salaries/bonuses, 3. Heath insurance costs.

    So, if you really want to help turn around our domestic auto companies and airlines, then start thinking about single-payer healthcare. It would save them, and us individually, an obscene amount of money.

  • Bravo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigtallmofo (695287) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:07PM (#15312567)
    Here's a different example. Skilled construction jobs are way up, and they are largely union.

    Therefore, unions create larger markets.


    Fantastic! Not since my 9th grade health class have a heard such a good example of impaired mental ability demonstrating faulty logic. The example back then was:

    "Jesus was a man with long hair. I have long hair. I must be Jesus."

    Again, great job on ignoring the largest real estate bubble ever to hit a capitalist economy in your pro-union analysis.
  • by killjoe (766577) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:08PM (#15312576)
    "Unions are great at representing manual workers who perform repetitive tasks and who have a very horizontal organisation structure."

    Bullshit. The American Medical Association, the American Bar Association are unions. Professionals now form "associations" which they pay membership fees do just like unions.

    The purpose of a union isn't "just" to level the playing field. It's also to lobby for your members. AMA gets legislation passed, hell they write legislation and demand that politicians vote for it.

    Where is your mojo? Did quitting that last job because your company sucked prevent the DMCA from becoming law? Did it reform the patent system?

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:09PM (#15312593) Homepage Journal

    The question then becomes, would a union actually help you? The short stint that I did as a Teamster spoiled the idea of unions irreparably for me. From my own experience Unions are just one more layer above you and the management. Instead of just having an incompetent manager to deal with you also end up with an incompetent union representative that can make decisions that have a huge impact on your life. The primary difference between the management and the union reps is that at least some members of the management team will have taken a basic college course in economics. Layoffs are a way of life in union shops, the only difference between union shops and non-union ones is that in union shops you know who is going to get laid off, the folks with the least seniority. Never mind that the you are a more valuable worker than the folks with higher seniority, if you are the new guy, you are out of work.

    Never mind that the union actually charges you for its so-called "services." As far as I was concerned I paid union dues so that the union could guarantee that lazy idiots with more seniority than me were impossible to fire while I could be let go at any time.

  • by Z34107 (925136) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:13PM (#15312627)

    What's artificial about a union?

    Short answer: everything.

    Long answer: A union fights for extra perks for its memebers (like higher salaries and fewer hours) through three mechanisms:

    1. Controlling hiring (closed shops) to artificially raise the cost of labor (i.e., people's salaries) above the market rate.
    2. Leveraging collective bargaining (and the power gained from #1) to give workers an artificial influence over their employer that they would not have normally.
    3. Using media coverage, which is generally sympathetic (but does not have to be) to draw attention to themselves at the expense of their employer.

    In a free, competitive market there are no economic profits and each worker is paid according to his marginal productivity - i.e., how much value he adds to the final product. The tech industry is an excellent example of this: there are no barriers to entry - anyone with a Linux machine can enter the software biz if he wants - and the skills-based positions are highly competitive. Only the most menial tech jobs are outsourced to India for $2.50 an hour, and many companies are starting to regret this. Even though the accounting costs go down, the generally inferior code is more expensive to maintain in the long run, for example.

    By definition, unions seek to artifically distort the natural workings of the market. Right now, jobs are flowing to India because in some cases, the same job can be performed there for less. How will making it more expensive to hire an American programmer discourage someone from hiring the less expensive Indian programmer?

    Even if our theoretical union had a stranglehold over management, it's an awfully selfish way to get job security. Higher than normal wages in the tech industry would cause more expensive technology, plain and simple. Everyone who uses technology (read: everyone) would be forced to pay more. Kinda selfish to line your paycheck at the expense of the rest of us, isn't it?

    Or, recall the number one way unions gain power: limiting hiring. Unions make individual workers more powerful by restricting the number of workers at the business. Sucks to have to go get that job in India because the union doesn't feel like hiring.

    We can also turn to the auto industry for some insight into the artificial distortions unions cause. It is cheaper for Japan to build an automobile in Japan and ship it a thousand miles across the ocean, wait for customs to clear, and pay tariffs than it is to produce an identical car in America - unless the plant isn't unionized. Japanese car manufacturers are just starting to open plants in the non-union south - and they're absorbing the hemorrhage of workers from American industries caused by poor management and powerful unions.

    Many of the purposes the unions originally fought for - fair wages, safe conditions, fewer hours - are now mandated by the federal government. (Minimum wages, OSHA, etc.) Unions have become obsolete, victims of their own success. Also victim is our bankrupt auto industry. And the airline industry. There's no reason to force the same dinosaur on the tech industry - no one is left unable to feed their family, mangled by unenclosed machines, or choked by coal dust.

    A better solution: quit if you don't like your job.

  • by bishop32x (691667) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:20PM (#15312709)
    If corporations are treated as legal persons, they should have the same responsibilities as people. Have it one way or the other.
  • by wobblygeek (974322) <chuck @ w o b blygeek.org> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:30PM (#15312816) Homepage
    Unions are 100% useless today because they don't have the balls to kick the CEO's ass in the parking lot, turn over and burn cop cars, etc... when things are going very unfair. They just roll over and ask for more. Unions are not some mysterious, faceless third party. Unions are you and the guy next to you and the woman next to him. Unions are comprised of the people in them, they are not just the bureaucrats that were elected to lead and are now screwing you. If you don't like your union, because the bureaucrats don't listen, collude with management, or are just plain inneffectual, you have the power and the right to change them. You can run your own candidates for union office, elect new shop stewards, decertify one union in favor of another more effectual one, or wildcat strike or work-to-rule until someone listens to your compalints. Until working people, union members included, realize that this entire planet only runs because WE make it run, we're going to keep sinking deeper and deeper.
  • by bm17 (834529) * <brm@yoyodyne.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:34PM (#15312864)
    I never had a wife or kids. Instead I saved up enough money that I can spend my time doing charity and working on my self-sufficient farm. I guess I must be irresponsible for not following your little genetic breeder script and bringing little copies of myself into a world that already has more people than it can sustain. Thanks for the insight. My life is a failure.
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:36PM (#15312879) Journal
    Hm. So on the one hand you have people with no job security, working 12 hour days, and having their bosses yell at them if they don't produce code or fix machines fast enough, and on the other you have "60K a year retire at 55 and they wanted to retire at 50."

    And you see a *problem* with this? Unionization is getting them all that, and you're against it? Why? I'd love to have that job description.
  • by mfrank (649656) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:38PM (#15312901)
    When a corporation goes belly up the people who invested in it lose every dime they put in it. The workers lose two weeks pay. Well, they may lose there retirement money. If they were stupid enough to put it in company stock.
  • by Mr.Fork (633378) <edward.j.reddy @ g m a i l.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:42PM (#15312935) Journal
    Actually, having a Union is not all that bad. We ARE the new blue collar workforce in case you're wondering. We are the first cut, the first out the door when things go bad.

    Having worked in several hi-tech companies, EDS, SHL-System House, MCI-Worldcom, and several dot-coms bombs, being unionized is a completely different environment.

    The crap I saw at EDS and other tech companies would not be tolerated in my work place. As a service desk manager for a IT help-desk, I have to say I enjoy the union agreement that forces my managers not to make bad decisions. Outsource the IT? Good luck in convincing the union. Good luck trying to force someone to stay at work because their dad is dying of cancer, or their wife is having a kid. All the sheit I put up with in a non-union tech place is mind boggling. Face it guys, most IT managers are IQ smart, not EQ, and we suffer as a result. My niece was on her deathbed - my old IT manager was wondering if it was ok if I was there just for the funeral. In a union environment, even asking me to stay at work when I'm entitled to be there would quash the every-day bullshiet we put up with because we're IT.

    We are generally underpaid, outsourced at 3X what they pay us in return, and are viewed as a cost-centre (meaning that we're also the first out the door during layoffs).

    If my manager calls me at home when I'm sick, it costs him my time in return. No such thing as working extra and not being paid for it. How many times have you seen EA or other software game companies being sued by employees for working extra without being paid for it. No earned time off.

    Managers treat us like crap, and it's about time faced the fact that as the new blue collar workforce, we are entitled to union rights.
  • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:47PM (#15312983) Homepage Journal
    Yup, I admit it. I did an 8-month contract in COBOL so I wouldn't lose the house (I needed the money and it was one of the 20 or so languages I'm fairly good with) because my various distributed skills (C/Sybase/Solaris/Linux/Tux) hadn't yet gotten me in the door anywhere, and because folks weren't interested in hiring me for PC support work.

    See my posting about the Twin Cities job market.

    Like so many hiring managers, however, you seem to assume that the last position one has held is the sole measurement of a person's skillset and experience, and you discount all of the other things which appeared on *two separate resumes* on my web site.

    Good job. Although, to be fair, those aren't the resumes I would typically send out, since I almost always custom tailor them to the position at hand.

    With the addition of the stuff I've been working on here over the past 18 months (mainly more perl, C++, MQ/WebSphere, Oracle, Tux, various XML generation/parsing stuff, and SOAP), I actually have some more current buzzwords to list, but it's just more of the same. It's only syntax, after all. The core competencies don't change.

    At least you accurately illustrate why it's hard for someone to find a position. One isn't the sum of one's experiences, skills, or actual abilities at all anymore, at least in eyes of the job market, and your resume is only as good as your last formal position.

    Everything else is discounted.

    Kinda sad when you think about it.
  • by bstarrfield (761726) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:06PM (#15313130)

    Your fault for not being financially solvent. So smug, so self assured. You know, bad things happen. And in an economy where wages are stagnant, gas and health care costs rise, and you can be outsourced in a second - financial solvency becomes much, much harder.

    Here's some things that can blast your smugness damn fast:

    • Divorce. Say goodbye to your reserves with your first visit to an attorney. My case - $30,000 + down the tube.
    • Catastrophic illness while unemployed, no health insurance. Thousands of bucks.
    • Long term unemployment. Welcome to tech reality. It takes a long time to find a job. Six months is optimistic. I've had friends waiting eighteen months.

    And it's really easy to buy a cheap home after prices have gone up 9-10% per year for the last decade. Average price of a home is well over 200k across the country. Where should you live, a cardboard box? Don't say rent - in many areas you can't find a good home to rent.

    Things are messed up, my friend. Your planning is at risk to economic fate. Don't judge everyone so quickly.

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:23PM (#15313242) Homepage Journal
    Don't get me wrong -- I agree with you completely.

    Management would be criminally stupid to get rid of someone who has that amount of accumulated knowledge in a situation like that. Heck, where I work, we keep a few guys on the team who are basically like that. They spend maybe 75% of their time donut-munching their way towards a myocardial infarction, and the other 25% solving problems nobody else can solve. I don't know what they get paid, but I'd say they're worth every penny, just for the times they've helped me out.

    However, (and I'm making some assumptions here) they're not being kept on because of some misguided sense of loyalty on the part of management. They're being kept on because someone along the line correctly realized their great value as an asset to everyone else. That's how the system ought to work; nobody's on the payroll for the sake of being on the payroll, they're there because they're doing something useful. (That was a lot of "there"'s -- apologies.)

    Now, I'm not saying my company is exactly ideal in every way. (Don't even get me started...I'm trying to stick to the positive.) But at least in this one instance, it's a good demonstration of how things are supposed to work. Nobody gets a "desk by the window" just because they've put in 30 years.

    An organization that fails to recognize the value of it's skilled employees is squandering its (in all probability) most valuable resource, and is being as equally stupid as the one who keeps people on for no good reason at all.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:28PM (#15313293) Journal
    I mean, the ones with families to feed? This Ann-Randian spewing is the sort to come from high school or Rush Limbaugh.

    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. [slashdot.org]

    Without a union, you have no say if the boss' lazy-assed nephew gets a raise while reading slashdot all day (ahem). With a union, you can vote any contract that allows this down. Nobody else wants to do a lazy man's work, either.

    If the union negotiates a contract that lets this happen, you can vote againt it. The "union boss" is a myth: he works for YOU, not the other way around.

    If the job sucks or I don't think I am being treated fairly, I quit, simple as that... But with the same sentiment, when it comes times for initial salary negotiations, take the gloves off, and _fight for every penny_.

    Fight? No, unless your skill is so unusual nobody else can do it, you mean beg.

    The company is organized, all the shareholders and board is against you, you all by yourself. A union evens the playing field. "United we bargain, divided we beg."

    There is no such thing as a permanent job, and you're naive if you believed that. [slashdot.org]

    Naive? Funny, most of the people I know from my elderly father's generation are retired, with a pension, after working at the same company all their lives. Why shouldn't you be able to as well?

    And as a country, the LAST thing we need to be doing right now is making ourselves less competitive with regards to the rest of the world.

    Where's my cluebat? There are no more American companies! At least, no publically traded ones. Crysler's profits don't help America a bit unless THEY HELP AMERICA'S WORKERS. I am an American, Sony and Disney and Crysler and Toyota aren't. I'm patriotic, a company cannot be.

    How Toyota treats the workers in its North American plants affects America. Welcome to your new foreign overlords (I for one...)

    If only we could make stupidity more painful...

    Are you some kind of masochist?;)

    "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. [slashdot.org]

    Which is precisely why if that company mistreats its workers it needs a union. They have no reason to give two shits about you or your needs.

    It's better to loose *some* jobs than to have the entire company collapse like the auto industry is collapsing to foreign competition. [slashdot.org]

    The unions haven't killed the American auto industry, its incompetent management has. Japan sells more cars (made in unionized American plants) because they make what is percieved (probably rightly) as better cars. Note before the '70s a foreign car was rare on the highways. Then the oil crunch came, but Big American Auto continued to sell big, badly designed and built pieces of shit. It wasn't the unions that made the decision to ignore the Japanese.

    Why would I want the playing field artificially leveled? My playing field greatly favors me because I am better at my job than most people. [slashdot.org]

    So long as your employer treats you fairlly there is indeed no reason for a union. In the '80s, the head of the then non-union Eastern Airlines rightly stated that "any company that gets a union deserves one."

    Folks only unionize when management comes from a Dilbert cartoon.

    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. [slashdot.org]
  • by Colonel Angus (752172) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:41PM (#15313383)
    I said before I found work in the *IT* field. That was what I was referring to when I made the unemployed statement. I didn't consider temp work to be employed. It was shit money for shit jobs but (mostly) paid the bills.

    I did temp work in factories, in offices, in wherever work could be found and money made.

    I had a feeling that the lay off was coming and had started firing resumes off well before it actually happened.

    I'm not dumb or lazy. I work my ass off and I'm damn good at what I do. The fact of the matter was that there were very few positions in my area and many other unemployed people in my position who likely had more experience than I.

    I hate to call someone I don't know an asshole, but your entire reply was flip and condescending without even a hint of thought that someone could legitimately just fall into some bad luck at some point in their life.

    Please, consider yourself lucky to have (obviously) never been in such a situation and may you never find yourself in it.
  • by HardCase (14757) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:43PM (#15313396)
    Here's some things that can blast your smugness damn fast:

            * Divorce. Say goodbye to your reserves with your first visit to an attorney. My case - $30,000 + down the tube.
            * Catastrophic illness while unemployed, no health insurance. Thousands of bucks.
            * Long term unemployment. Welcome to tech reality. It takes a long time to find a job. Six months is optimistic. I've had friends waiting eighteen months.

    And it's really easy to buy a cheap home after prices have gone up 9-10% per year for the last decade. Average price of a home is well over 200k across the country. Where should you live, a cardboard box? Don't say rent - in many areas you can't find a good home to rent.
    don't h
    Things are messed up, my friend. Your planning is at risk to economic fate. Don't judge everyone so quickly.


    So is your answer to not structure your finances to anticipate an emergency? True, you could end up divorced, ill and unemployed. So? The OP had a good, if impersonal, point to make. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, you're asking for trouble. On the other hand, if that's the way you want to live, fine with me.

    I've got 10 months' pay socked away and my house is paid for. It's not because I'm lucky, it's because I made a plan and stuck to it. I was unemployed for a while, too, but I also recognized that if I really wanted a job, I could find one. It meant moving away for ten years and, at one point, it meant a career change, but, in the end, it was worth it.

    Back in the late 80s or early 90s, I lived in Newport, RI. Now, that's an expensive place to live. I had a lot of friends who were unemployed and had been for months because the economy there was (and may still be, for all I know) completely in the crapper. 30 miles (as the crow flies) away, in Providence, there were plenty of jobs. Of course, at the time (and maybe now, haven't been back for a while), that 30 miles was about 50 miles of really bad road, so commuting wasn't really feasible. When I pointed out to my buddies that there was work in Providence, their answer, to a one, was that they couldn't leave "the island". Good jobs were there, but they wouldn't move even 30 miles to get one.

    All I'm saying is that success takes work and along the way, things can go bad. It happened to me - I went through a divorce, I was unemployed. Fortunately I didn't get sick. But you deal with each setback, go through the anger and the disappointment for a reasonable time, then figure out how to get back on track.

    On the other hand, if you'd rather just decide that it's not worth the trouble, that's OK, too. It's no skin off my back. My plan for success is my own and I wouldn't dream of imposing it on anybody else.

    -h-
  • by pegacat (89763) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:44PM (#15313406) Homepage
    A union doesn't work for IT. What we need is what the doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants have - a decent Professional Association.

    We don't need a Union to help with collective bargaining of base pay rates and do the other things Unions do well, because we're professionals, and generally don't have the problems underpaid blue collar workers have.

    However we could very much use a Professional Association to help with dodgy employers, legal aid for badly treated members (think all those stories of people fired for showing security flaws), bulk rate bargaining on things like indemnity insurance, advising government on IT issues, and (and this is the biggie; think doctors) enforcing professional standards.

    In Australia we have the 'Australian Computing Society', but as far as I can tell it's been subverted by industry sources such as recruitment agencies and large IT employers, and does sod all with regards to representing IT workers. However a ground swell take over bid and a bit of branch stacking could probably get it back on track. Follow that up with an act of parliment (like with lawyers, doctors etc.) to set standards and you're on the gravy train.

    Then, if you're evil, you insist that all 'security related' IT work can only be done by an 'ACS approved IT security worker', and your off-shoring worries go out the window. (It's a scam, but one used very successfully by other professions - cf all the stuff in the states about not buying cheap scripts from those naughty cheap Canadian doctors... :-) ).

  • Ha! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:05PM (#15313531) Homepage Journal
    Let me get this straight: IT jobs are already going overseas to reduce costs, and you're suggesting I should try to make it even more expensive and inefficient to employ me? Riiiight!
  • by maraist (68387) * <(michael.maraist ... mail.n0spam.com)> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:06PM (#15313535) Homepage
    Your technical priesthood job is on the block, my friend, and it has nothing to do with "making ourselves less competitive" because there *is* no "us". As you yourself noted, companies don't give a shit about you, and they don't differentiate between you or your Bangalore doppelganger. You're doublethinking if you believe your "rugged individualism" and "personal responsibility" ethos logically meshes with your neo-nationalistic competitive "patriotism". You are the perfect tool for what is happening right now--a me-first isolated soul who waves the flag even as his government and the greedheads that own it mortgage any possibility of a decent future not just for "their people", but the world itself.

    Ok, perhaps a history lesson is in order. Once upon a time, everyone was "mostly" self sufficient.. "Employment" was a personal issue.. You found food or money to buy food or you died. But everybody knew this.. The problem was protection. Tribes were great because you could fend off animals or other tribe-sized competetors. Inside the tribe, you had various needs that would be fullfilled by directly growing/hunting food or providing services that others would share their food/money for.

    Ok, boring, so far. Well, eventually economies of scale, technology and competition entered the picture until tribes were no longer sufficient.. Kingships (which could organize massive armies) were needed for this protection.. Or the scarseness of farmable/huntable land was needed.. Obviously this didn't exist everywhere.. It only seemed to have affected the middle east and Europe. Africa, north-east Asia and Austrailia managed to maintain very healthy hunter-gatherer tribes up through today. The competition never required advancement, consolidation, specialization, 'technologization', ...

    Now with the king-subject situation, it was in the king's interest to keep everybody in the border.. You could be "fired" from the kingdom (exiled) mostly because there was land between kingdoms into which you COULD be exiled. But this was very rare. Further, it was in the king's interest to keep people employed - maning the armies, building the palaces, growing the food, etc. If people were lazy, they died.. Was pretty darwinistic.. But we hadn't really seen much of modern employment problems creep up yet, because the incentive structure didn't yet exist.

    Later came fuedalism.. Smaller versions of king-ships.. Mostly focused around protection.. Because money was now a staple, not only did you farm/hunt for the food, but to pay your taxes and other "utilities" / "services".. We're much closer to modern day.. If you couldn't make ends meet (utilities were generally fixed, irregardless of your income level), then you became a debtor/slave. Now you were a ward of the state, BUT, much like older days, the smaller lords still have use for you... They could kill you whenever they didn't - but rarely did they exile you (wasn't enough people to fill the voids). The problem during this era is still stability and resource-starvation, not a lack of available work or "employers".

    Finally came industrialization.. For the first time, we shift away from resources because we can manufacture new resources virtually anywhere. We also remove the primary focus away from security, as the "valueables" are no longer "your women", but the "goods" stored in the vaults.. Individual protection is no longer as important as the factory's protection.. BUT coincidently protect a single factory better than an entire village. So essentially protection is no longer the concern of each individual..

    BUT, since we've now reshifted the focus away from the farms, away from the churches, away from the kings/lords.. We've focused them to the resource maker... The factory..

    NOW, exhile takes on a whole new meaning.. There is a calculated fixed demand for workers for each factory, and a realisticly calculated fixed demand for regions with factories.. And moreover, there is a tradeoff between capital (money or fi
  • by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:07PM (#15313542) Homepage
    A Union is good for taking your money. Here in Brazil registered workers are obliged to join their professional unions.

    Result #1: All the small unions do is to get from their "members" one pay day per year. This payment cannot be avoided. By law it's discounted from you paycheck by your employer. Needless to say, union owners do not have financial problems.

    Result #2: All the big unions do is to grant to their members that they have a fair chance of losing their jobs, since companies burdened by crazy colective contracts are choosing to leave the country in search of less regulated places.

    Result #3: Both big and small unions together managed to stablish this great concept, the "minimum wage". So, every one of the lowly skilled people whose services aren't worth this "minimum" are confortably unemployed, having to work under illegal terms to get any payment at all. And of course these illegal jobs pay these people far less than what they would get in case the magic "minimum wage" didn't exist.

    Now, I won't say unions weren't usefull when they appeared in the XIX century. The point is: for most of the industrialized world their time has come and gone. Unions are an historical solution for an historical reality, namely, the sub-human work conditions under the pre-scientific management of pre-information age industrial plants. Those are extinct almost everywhere. And they are extict precisely because the unions accomplished the goals they were set to reach.

    The globalized post-industrial, service-based, information age is a whole different beast. Trying to apply to it something that worked 150 years ago is nothing more than being a "conservative" in the depreciative meaning of the word, i.e., trying to "conserve" some old idea simply because it was good one day, not because it remains good today. Unions, as they now exist, are past, and must be left in the past. The modern world demands a modern solution, not a deficient model whose utility is long lost.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:12PM (#15313576)
    Organize to the point that you can raise enough money to lobby congress. Then, insist that, for the good of the public, certain jobs must legally require: USA citizenship, certifications, degrees, clearances, licenses, etc.

    Remember, officially, it is *always* for the good of the public. For example: argue that software used in medical system, or for air traffic control, or whatever; can be life and death critical. People who work on that software must, by law, be USA citizens, have a degree in software engineering, and be HIPAA certified. Use your imagination, think of all the software, and networks, that somehow might relate to national security, or are economically cricital, or something along those lines.

    Remember: it always must be for the good of the public - not just for the IT workers. Real professions: like medician, law, and even construction, have been using this scam for a century.

    Another upside to this: it would help eliminate some of the real bozos in IT. I know, a degree or cert, doesn't really prove anything. Some people without degrees or certs are actually better. But, at least, degres and certs prove some level of knowledge. Would you want a doctor or lawyer who never went to school?
  • by daniel422 (905483) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:21PM (#15313643) Journal
    and if I don't like my job, I quit and get/make a new one. I went to school to learn how to think -- not to be a sheep.
    Unions are for unskilled workers who can't compete in the open market because of their lack of marketable abilities.
    We have unions for many jobs nowdays that don't meet tese qualifications, yet unionize anyway. Never, IMHO, to their better. I'd rather tech not be one.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:28PM (#15313686)

    If you can not make your mortgage and basic bills on a little over 1/2 your income then you are living beyond your means and is a stupid thing to do.

    Wow. That's the most uneducated thing I've ever heard in my life; I hate people who have mortgages and whine about how expensive they are or think the rest of the world has it as easy as they do; property owners have always been, are, and always will be, a true privledged class. My boss once complained about his mortgage and I flat out said "how much is your mortgage a month?" "$600 a month." "That's for a 2 bedroom house right?" "Yeah." "Want to switch? I'm paying $1200 a month for half of someone's basement."

    Did you stop to consider that a huge percentage of people in the US (and the world) lease their home or apartment? A decent one bedroom apartment in Boston, for example, will cost you perhaps $1200 a month; NYC, I'm told studios are something like $1400-1500 a month. That's $14400 a year; figure another $2k in utilities and now you're at $16,400 a year in BASIC living costs. Lets say you need to drive a half hour to work on the highway each way, and you get 30mpg. That's about $1500 in gas a year. Don't forget $1k in insurance. So we're up to $19K.

    I've seen companies around here offering about $20-25/hr to techs (basic, ie first-tier jobs from "consulting firms" in the area.) So you're making 40-50k. Let's assume your employer happens to be one of those increasingly rare types that actually "employs" you, so they pay their fair share of taxes and so on. Wellllll...Uncle Sam and his buddy Sammy State still take about 33% of your paycheck. Don't forget health care; that's probably another 1k off. So you take home about $25k-32k. Sounds great, right? Anywhere between 7k and 13k to "play with", right?

    EXCEPT YOU HAVEN'T EATEN YET (with apologies to Bill Cosby.) You haven't saved for your "retirement" or short term savings. You haven't bought clothes, or maybe gone to the movies once or twice a month, or spent the weekend somewhere nice to relax, or maybe splurged and bought yourself a new, reasonably priced camera since your current one kicked the bucket after a few years. You haven't moved (perhaps to get cheaper rent or because the cheaper apartment turned out to be in a warzone). You haven't done a lot of things. You're certainly not married, and you sure as hell don't have children.

    Maybe you're paying off student debts, or maybe you've got $1200-$3600 in car payments per year. The list goes on, and on, and on in terms of expenses that qualify as several steps below what most people begin to consider luxuries.

    Many people drive a BMW that they can not afford and the check engine light has been on for 4 months because they cant afford the service.

    Seen a BMW commercial lately? -All- maintenance, down to wiper blades, is free for several years.

    There are plenty of people who overspend beyond their means. The rest of the people in debt are there because everyone from the electric company to their landlord is a greedy little shrew and trying to bleed them out of every penny they've made.

  • Mod up (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:31PM (#15313708)
    I would mod you up if I could. I have been involved in IT since the early 90's and you are completely correct. The ignorance of the young slashdotters here is astounding.
  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:02PM (#15313928)
    The existence of a law does not guarantee it's persistence. And I certainly don't trust the US government to look out for my best interests simply because they have a marble building with "Department of Labor" chiseled into it. Much as the ACLU exists to protect your civil liberties, labor organizations exist to protect your rights as an employee.

    Again, I'm not trying to argue that unions aren't part of the problem nowadays. The auto unions are half the reason the US auto industry is failing (the other is auto industry management).

  • by buss_error (142273) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:15PM (#15314004) Homepage Journal
    Heck man, a Union just makes it hard to get bonuses and raises!
    Like, wow dude, when's the last time you got a bonus or a raise?

    If I joined a union, I wouldn't be able to rise on my own merits!
    Geee, I sure do appreciate my being promoted twice in the last four years! NOT

    Unions are anti-business!
    If being anti-business means I want more of the share of the value I add to the business process, more protection from losing my job to a college or high school drop out that works for less than my gas bill, then I'm all for being anti-business. You are an expert at what you do. What did it cost you to be an expert? Time and money, I'll bet. Now, if the dropout knows his stuff, I'm not against him. But too many times have I seen qualified senior positions eleminated and management runs in three or four people to take the place of one person. The former employee get shafted, the new ones don't make squat, the job suffers, and the customers are left in the lurch.

    Unions stifle innovation!
    Like when was the last time you got to innovate? More likely you were tasked with yet another crap death march project for more PHB eye-candy.

    I do better without a Union involved!
    Chances are, if you look around, you can pick out two other people that get paid more than you do and don't do as much. So where does that leave you? With all the other programmers flipping burgers because a Paki works for $8,000 USD and likes it?

    I HATE unions! There's no room for being me!
    I was in a union. We didn't critize or belittle people for being unique, able to do things with flair, or were better at their jobs than we were.

    Unions will prevent me from going management!
    No, they won't. I went management (which is why I'm no longer union), and simply wrote a letter 30 days in advance informing them I was leaving the union. Note that it did not ask permission, it simply informed them of my upcoming new status.

    Unions are almost like commie pinko communists!
    I double dog dare you to go up to a union member and call him a communist.

    Unions run a business into the ground and force them into bankrupcy!
    Let me ask you, are you are reasonable person? Will you demand your employer give you so much that it will bankrupt them? Will you make unreasonable demands on health, life, retirement? Why do you assume a union will? Who told you they did? What agenda were they hiding?

    Unions keep the deadwood in place and won't let management fire them.
    Not in my experience. When I was union, the shop steward repremanded people for job failings much more often than management did, and twice called a vote at the request of the membership to refer another member to Management that wasn't pulling his weight. One was drinking too much (went to rehab and did ok afterward) and one was smoking crack (couldn't hack rehab and was fired.)

    Unions contribute to Liberals, and I don't like the Liberals!
    Depending on the union, that may be. In the IBEW, my local did not make contributions to political parties from their own funds, but only from funds specially earmarked by the member over and above the dues to be given to a particular party. There were Dems', Repubs', Sociliasts, Communists, Libertarian, Green, and a slew of others listed.

    Dues! Why should I pay dues?!
    For the same reason you pay a cable bill. You get a service that benifits you. And let me add that while making 45K+, my dues were about $20USD month. A lot less than I paid for cable at the time.

    Let me just say, I've spoken to a lot of people about a union. Most have a horrible misunderstanding of what a union is, does, or is responsiable for. Since almost all of the people have the same misunderstandings, I have to think that it isn't an accident they hold those misconceptions. A business would rather not to have to deal with a union, because then if they
  • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:01PM (#15314290)
    This is the inherent weakness in the free market.

    See, the selling point of the free market is that it improves society by making everyone strive to be the best that they can through competition. People work harder, companies produce better products and sell them for less, etc.

    They never mention that there are two ways to improve your value in the free market - raise yourself up, or bring your competition down (ie, sabotage).

    This second option does not benefit society, or anyone except the person who is sabotaging his neighbor. And if his neighbor sabotages him in turn, you get a very messy situation where everyone is destroying instead of building, and so many resources and lives are wasted on this conflict.

    BTW, this situation is called "the jungle" or "anarchy".

    So, the first societies basically evolved with the rule that no one could do the very obvious things to sabotage their neighbors (murder, theft, etc) without retribution from the leader. Some did anyway, but you can't stop every crime.

    But people got more clever. They exploited the rules so that they were technically within the law, but they were still causing harm to the system in general. So laws were passed to prevent these acts as well.

    Eventually, we get to where we are now - people are manipulating the system, stock markets, taxes, etc. to the detriment of everyone else and enrichment of themselves, and they have their defenders say that it's right in itself to allow these things to happen, regardless of the harm they do.

    Yes, you'd be one of those defenders.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:56PM (#15314860)
    Give me one hundred dollars, I will bay it back and split the profits with you.

    Now will you be pissed if I take my time paying you back and streatch it oput over several years? or would you like me to do whatever it was i'm going to do and get it back in a few months. It doesn't really matter what your going to say. Anyone in thier right mind would expect me to try my best to honor our agreement and not circle jerk them around. It is no difference with shareholders and investors. They expect the agreements to be filled as soon as possible with as much return as possible. I see no difference in you giving $100 and some rich investor giving $100,000,000.
  • by torokun (148213) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @11:10PM (#15314932) Homepage
    "If the conditions are too oppressive, the company will not find labor to perform under it. "

    The problem with your reasoning here is that when every company can negotiate with employees individually, they can all put the squeeze on the employees because their conditions will all deteriorate together. The employee won't quit because everywhere else is the same, or not different enough to make it worth the sometimes significant costs of quitting, moving, etc.

    Employees won't quit unless there is a better job to go to. If there is a better job, they'll quit and go there, but then that employer has every incentive to simply put the squeeze on. What's the employee going to do, go back to his previous employer? So there's a tendency toward squeezing the employees which can only be countered by collective bargaining, law, or companies that are not run by rational wealth-maximizers, i.e., socially conscious companies.

  • by rossifer (581396) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @11:25PM (#15314986) Journal
    is that reasoning enough to convince top-level managers not to outsource?

    Depends on how much they learn before making their decision. The "typical" experience appears to be that you can save 0-15% of your costs if you're willing to deal with a 20-50% longer schedule than using an equivalently skilled local team.

    The normal question to ask management is: how much is that extra time (an additional 20-50%) worth?

    This is the area where a Union - perhaps not a union in the classical, heavy-handed draconian sense but SOME KIND of employee organization [...]

    I think of unions as a response to a failure of management. Like some of the other posters, I have no problem walking away from a company with bad management. I did exactly that this past December (I have a mortgage and my fiance's Ph.D to pay for). Also, like some of the other posters, the inevitable leveling of compensation that unions bring don't appeal to me. I'm far above the average developer and feel that I should get compensation commensurate with my contribution.

    As you said, however, perhaps some other form of professional organization can improve the situation without the problems I would have joining a union.

    In the end, however, I don't find the current situation intolerable. There are enough clueful organizations that I don't have to tolerate clueless idiots for all that long.

    Regards,
    Ross
  • by Shajenko42 (627901) on Friday May 12, 2006 @12:40AM (#15315328)
    All of the above need a union to get them. Once you've got them the union is redundant
    Hardly.

    You see, companies fought every single one of those improvements every step of the way, and they continue to fight them. Read about the EA Games horror stories? Those are becoming more and more common. So the 40 hour week is under attack. Companies aren't giving health insurance by simply hiring a lot of part time workers. Weekends and holidays - see above. And so forth.

    Unions aren't just necessary to get those benefits - they're necessary to keep them, because companies and employers will never stop trying to take them away.
  • Re:Unions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drsquare (530038) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:34AM (#15316008)
    Yeah, how dare those worthless floor sweepers earn a reasonable wage? They should get $2 an hour and their families should have to live in grotty one-bedroom apartments eating ramen and rats. They deserve it for not being prima donna computer programmers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2006 @11:52AM (#15318203)
    When companies were rampantly abusing their workers (i.e. 7 days a week 12+ hours a day), unions were a good thing. In the US, they got us the 40 hour work week with two days off and many other benefits that we enjoy today.

    IMHO, they have outlived their usefulness.

    Have unions stopped steel production from moving to other countries

    - No, they got the government to impose higher tariffs on foreign steel
        which in turn hurt the industry even more... (it was stated somewhere
        that instead of imposing higher protectionist tariffs, we could have
        simply given each worker that got laid off their yearly salary and
        purchased the cheaper steel and STILL SAVED MONEY!!! don't ask, I don't
        have the source handy, use google...)

        Where were you when it happened (okay, for most slashdot readers, you
        probably weren't even born...)

    Have unions stopped automobile manufacturers from sending jobs elsewhere?

    - No, and where were you when they did? You were standing in line to buy
        the car made less expensively somewhere else...

    How about other manufacturing? Have unions stopped those jobs from going
    overseas?

    - No, and again, we were all in Walmart/Target/some other discount store
        happily paying less for stuff we want...

    For the most part, we didn't complain that any jobs moved overseas as
    long as the stuff we want was cheaper... Until it affected us.

    For the most part the one thing that caused those products to made somewhere else and be cheaper are the unions... They are self serving.
    Members pay them money to do one thing, stir up the members into thinking
    they are getting screwed by their employers. They walk off the job costing
    them money in lost production and force them to settle (much like the legal industry in the US, but I digress)

    To put it bluntly, the free market just works. It gives the consumer
    (who has the majority of the power) the choice. And time and again we
    vote for the cheaper product, whether it is the best or not. By the time
    it breaks, we can buy a newer, bettter model for less. So who cares where
    it is made.

    The same thing applies to IT workers. We are supposed to be smart, agile,
    able to leap tall hurdles in a single CLI command... If we can't prove
    ourselves to be better than the other options, we deserve to lose our jobs
    and everything they empower us to do.

    Does it suck? Yes.

    Will it change? Only in a Utopian society, and don't count on that
    happening anytime soon. It's been tried time and again. The free market
    beats it to a bloody pulp everytime. People don't work for the benefit
    of others, they work for the betterment of themselves. (Anyone who
    says otherwise, well....) If as a result bettering yourself helps someone, great, excellent, good for you.

    Basic economics will win out every time and no amount of legislation can
    ever fix that... EVER

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

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