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Microsoft

Microsoft Caste System 365

Ericka writes "Computer Source Magazine recently published an article on Microsoft's treatment of its contractors. According to some temps, the work environment for these folks has taken a downturn since the resolution of the permatemp suit."
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Microsoft Caste System

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  • by otisaardvark ( 587437 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:29AM (#5692364)
    They just have low karma...
    • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @10:22AM (#5692986) Journal
      >They just have low karma...

      Even though this sounds funny, you are pretty much right on the mark. I did some consulting, and I did some contract work during the boom and every once in a while I would catch some static from the FTE's.

      Sometimes I earned my space on the floor by being a serious bad ass - the techs or FTE programmers were genuinely interested in my technique, my thoughts, and my experiences in similar situations. They were eager to absorb the things I had to offer, and I was eager to share.

      Occasionally I would run into someone that had a chip on their shoulder and I had to earn my space on the floor the hard way (Shock and Awe). I got into a pissing match with a DBA once over the way we were going to configure a particular SQL box and when push came to shove in the server room I held up my hand as if to say 'hold on a sec', looked at my watch. We sat there silent for a full 60 seconds as I watched the second hand on my watch go full circle. I put my hand down and said 'Your company just paid me $4 for that minute. I get paid another $4 for the sixty seconds it takes for me to explain this to you, and during the sixty seconds it takes you to consider the full ramifications of that statement, (you guessed it) I earn another four dollars. We can discuss this as long as you like, and I am willing to discuss it with whoever you want to bring into this discussion. If your pride is on the line here, I will let you adopt my recommendations and demand that we do it that way and I will let you take credit for the idea - I don't care because in four days I will be out of here.' BOOM! That pretty much ended the pissing match and I got on with my work.

      I didn't get invited to the company party. I didn't get perks and I had to park out in left field. I didn't get invited to lunch. And I didn't care. God I miss those days :p

      -

      As for the low karma bit - it is entirely possible that the temps (at least some of them, the ones whining about their stapler or not being respected) were shining examples of Darwin in action and were not worthy of respect. Otis may have hit the nail on the head on this one.
  • Typical... (Score:3, Funny)

    by theWrkncacnter ( 562232 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:30AM (#5692377)
    "Our caste system isn't a problem, its a feature." Okay, sorry I had to go for the obvious.
    • by Schwartzboy ( 653985 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:03AM (#5692562)
      And one wonders, based on the assumed validity of the claims made in this article, why there are so many useful "features" in the MS family of software. Think about what it means that "Sometimes you might not be involved in some spec review that is essential to your job function"...one can imagine Microsoft's business plan here if the orange-badges really are a vital part of the workforce:

      1. Put contractors in vital development roles
      2. Treat all contractors like utter crap
      3. Exclude contractors from having the most current and accurate information with respect to project specs, company standards, and their team's vision & progress by excluding them from important meetings
      4. Depend heavily on the quality of the work the contractors do, including their code in the latest version of MS BugMaker 2003.
      5. Whine about the mean lawyers and judges who make you play nice with the other kids
      6. Charge an exorbitant per-seat license for each application that expires approximately 27 minutes and 3 seconds after registration, but includes a feature that automatically takes out a second mortgage on your home so that you're able to continue working
      7. Profit!

      Seriously, I can think of a number of other companies that have similar caste systems, sometimes even within the hierarchy of permanent positions in the company. Unless I missed the graphic descriptions of inhuman torture and anal probing, I can think of several businesses that I've been told are much worse places to temp for.
      Reading this article I couldn't help but think that MS is doing the same thing to contractor abuse that it did with DOS a couple of decades ago- they didn't actually invent the concept, but it's been lovingly adopted and taken in directions that only MS would dare to go. Where would you like to be screwed today?
  • microsoft S.O.P. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by loveandpeace ( 520766 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:31AM (#5692380) Homepage Journal
    is it any real surprise that microsoft has stepped up measures to keep their permatemp structure while mitigating lawsuits? since the monopoly trial, they don't innovate any more than they did before; they simply hire better lawyers (and judges) -- for the season.
    • What? You're implicating that Microsoft buys off federal judges?! No! Say it ain't so! It's not like they have $40,000,000,000 cash just sitting around or anything with which to pull off such a feat.
  • by oingoboingo ( 179159 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:31AM (#5692381)
    I thought C# was supposed to do away with a lot of casting in everyday programming. oh FUCK
  • dash notation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by x0n ( 120596 ) <oising@NoSPAm.iol.ie> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:31AM (#5692384) Homepage Journal
    When I did some contract work at Microsoft a few years ago, I was a v- prefix (a vee dasher). The article suggests that a- was a temp worker. I've seen a-, t- and v- prefixes. Any blue badgers out there that can clarify the prefixes?

    - Ois
    • Re:dash notation (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:49AM (#5692466)

      I'm been both a blue and an orange badge.

      a- == temp employee
      v- == vendor
      t- == intern

      • Interns were blue badge employees, the other were red or orange if I remember correctly.

        Interns were pretty much considered the same as full time employees, which was nice.

        I never really noticed any problems with v- people being treated standard, other than the usual stuff that the v- person signed up for anyway, like benefits etc..

        The only thing that I remember them ever being excluded from was the company picnic, which is something any employee should go to at least once.
  • Oh God! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:31AM (#5692385) Homepage Journal
    They aren't invited to company parties.

    This has gone too far! The humanity! Surely the person-to-cake ratio would be sufficient with them included!
    • Peggy: Now Milton, dont be greedy, lets pass it along and make sure everyone gets a piece.

      Milton Waddams: yea but last time i didnt recieve a piece.

      Peggy: Just pass.
      [the cake passes and everybody but Milton gets a piece]

      Milton Waddams: [whispering] I could set the building on fire.
    • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @12:18PM (#5693652) Homepage Journal
      I imagine you did not read the article or put much thought into it. You obviously did not see the implications of this:

      Those who work neither as blue- nor orange-badges may wonder why they should care about Microsoft's practices. The answer is that from day 366 to day 466, Microsoft temps still get paid. Only the check is written not by Bill Gates, but by the State of Washington.

      That's one of the way temporary workers have been punished. Real nice of them. Think about doing routine work for M$ and having to take 100 days off every year. Right now that means being unemployed. Washington State might have better benifits than my state where the best you can get in benifits is minimum wage. What a great way to treat the people who get your work done: no retirement, no stock options, 25% of your pay comes from welfare. This is a much larger slap than being called "dash trash" and otherwise treated like an outcast.

      Is this what we can expect in the future from Corporate Amercia? Microsoft is one of the few companies that really grew in the last 20 years. If they won't treat their employess well, who will? Reading storries like this makes me sick.

      "Let them eat cake" indeed. Fuck you Joe.

      • Is this what we can expect in the future from Corporate Amercia? Microsoft is one of the few companies that really grew in the last 20 years. If they won't treat their employess well, who will? Reading storries like this makes me sick.


        Yes. Yes, it is what you can expect. D3LL does exactly the same thing in Austin... Down to the Red vs. Blue badges. And to the other guy who said contractors get paid more, NO, we're paid less, and less, and less, as the economy sinks and they're able to get away with pa
  • Mastercard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:32AM (#5692387) Homepage
    I spent some time as a contractor at Mastercard. Poor treatment of contractors there is not only well-known, but encouraged. Hell, we weren't even allowed to park in the same parking lot as the employees. At least we got a shuttle bus. Deliver me unto my corporate master.
    • Re:Mastercard (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:54AM (#5692501)
      I did a 1 year contract job for a Very Big Oil Company.

      My boss wasn't allowed to buy lunch etc. for contractors. My first day, there was a big team meeting to meet the new guy, and then the whole team went for lunch... Well, most of the team, I stayed in the office and ate a sandwich, because they couldn't pay for my lunch. WTF?!?!?!

      • Re:Mastercard (Score:5, Insightful)

        by macrom ( 537566 ) <macrom75@hotmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:57AM (#5692839) Homepage
        You know, I've been on both sides of the fence as well, and as a contractor I have to say that I almost don't WANT those kind of benefits. You are a terminal employee and your contract with the company is terminal as well. They can just walk into your cube and say, "Leave, we don't need/want you anymore.", and that's that. When you have that scenario hanging over your head, why would you want to get deeply involved in the company?

        I dunno, I chat with our contractors at the office just because I'm a nice guy, but most people don't. They get the crappy equipment that no one else wants. They get the crapy, busted up chairs. They get denied access to the source control system. They get denied access to documentation over our critical algorithms that make the company competitive. All in all, if you don't like that, don't contract.

        The upside is pay -- most contractors get paid waaay more than the perm employees. If they're lucky, they also get benefits from the agency they contract through. Even better, they get overtime during those crunch periods where the perm employees are begging the management to spend a few bucks on Subway sandwiches for dinner. Most contractors I know take the money as compensation for not always being considered a true team member.
    • Re:Mastercard (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Roofus ( 15591 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:54AM (#5692821) Homepage
      There's a reason for this. There have been lawsuits in the past from former contractors. Their claim was that since they were treated equally with employees, they deserve the benefits that come with being employed by the company. So to stay on the safe side, never let your contractors forget where they stand. It may sound asshole-ish, but you've got to CYA.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Once bitten twice shy--the contractor rules make sense. What doesn't make sense is why someone is a temp when they work a year, wait three months, wash and repeat a few times.

    It is Microsoft's problem, and their responsibility to fix, and there is only one way. They need to hire more full time workers and not use temps in vital position. Otherwise the software quality will continue to be awful.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It is Microsoft's problem, and their responsibility to fix, and there is only one way. They need to hire more full time workers and not use temps in vital position

      It's the red tape. The HR costs of hiring/firing an employee are enormous. I have no doubt it's cheaper for them to be doing the whole contractor cycle.

    • What doesn't make sense is why someone is a temp when they work a year, wait three months, wash and repeat a few times.

      When you factor in the higher rates (and overtime) paid to contractors I think 3 months holiday a year is a pretty big benefit most perm-staff to love to endure/b>.

      There is a similar situation in the UK, with contractors typically working only 9 months a year, and thereby gaining a massive saving in tax by being classed as self employed.

      I'm certainly no fan of Microsoft but on this p
      • Re:Enduring Holiday. (Score:2, Informative)

        by cfscript ( 654864 )
        as far as the private sector goes, i can't say anything on the motives of most contractors.

        however, as a government contractor, i must say that the contractors abilities are about the only thing that keeps 90% of the bureaus operational. most of the management types are given their positions more as a 'certificate of attendance' as opposed to earning it on merit/skill.

        just a slightly OT 2 cents.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mas'sa: Get back to your cubicle!
    Subordinate: No!

    Subordinate was eaten by a grue

    Mas'sa: Anyone want to join him in his fate?

    crickets chirping
  • and??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechnoVooDooDaddy ( 470187 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:38AM (#5692417) Homepage
    Contract programmers get a considerably better rate and overtime pay... They also are a bit more secure as they have a signed contract for X hours, which is legally actionable if not met...

    boohoo, they don't get other benefits, but that's just the tradeoff..
    • And it's not as if they have to work for Microsoft. If you don't like it, shove off.
    • Re:and??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by meloneg ( 101248 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:43AM (#5692443)
      Contract programmers get a considerably better rate and overtime pay... They also are a bit more secure as they have a signed contract for X hours, which is legally actionable if not met...
      The best I've ever had a contract stipulate is a month's notice of termination. I've never seen a true fixed length contract. The ones with fixed length always have an easy out. Not much different from "at will" employment. They just have to claim you weren't doing the work right, or they don't need it done anymore.
      Project-based contracts have some implication of stability, but most of these require a company between you and the client. If they don't like you, they'll force the company to take you off the project.
    • Plus contractors have the ability to write off tons of expenses (home office & partial mortgage payments/car expenses/computer/dining expenses/some entertainment expenses) that regular employees can't take advantage of.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      >> Contract programmers get a considerably better rate and overtime pay...

      I work for a Government Contractor in the DC area. Like many Contractors, we're considered
      "salaried" employees of the Contractor and do NOT get overtime pay (though we get benefits, which may or may not be paid for the Company). Fortunately our shop does not "require" overtime. Some Contractors, s.a. AMS were notorious for effectively "requiring" their people to work at least 10-20 hours of unpaid overtime per week! It was a w
    • Re:and??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @10:10AM (#5692920)
      Contract programmers get a considerably better rate and overtime pay... They also are a bit more secure as they have a signed contract for X hours, which is legally actionable if not met...

      boohoo, they don't get other benefits, but that's just the tradeoff..


      Exactly. I agreee 100%. I was a contractor for 6 years, and I was a "perm" employee for about 6 months of that time. First off, virtually anybody who is "perm" these days doesn't know what in the hell they're doing. They're trading away a lot of money for a false sense of security. Secondly, contractors DO have it better. More money, shorter hours (or at least being paid for the hours you do work, as opposed to perm people who can work 80 hours a week and get $0 extra), no (or fewer) meetings (these people are complaining about not going to meetings? are they out of their fucking minds???), much less beauracratic crap. You do your job, you go home. That's it. I don't know what these people are whining about. I really don't.
    • They also are a bit more secure as they have a signed contract for X hours, which is legally actionable if not met...


      You have just demonstrated that you have never actually been a contractor. Nobody who has ever worked as a contractor would make such a statement.

      Contractors are generally hired to stabilize the work force, so that perms don't have to be hired or fired as often. I have spent more than half of my career as a contractor, and I have never had a contract with a guaranteed number of hours.

      Also, the times that I have been dismissed early from a contract have usually been with no warning at all, due to the action of someone who has never met me and has no idea of what I do. It is typical in a really large defense contractor that the 3rd VP in charge of left-handed paperclips will wake up one morning and discover that there are (*gasp*) contractors in his organization, and issue an edict to get rid of all of them. About 6 months later, when it becomes obvious that the work isn't getting done, the lower-level managers start bringing them in again.

      And then there are some employers that want their cake and eat it, too, like (a now-defunct telecom company)-- they fired me after less than 2 weeks because I wouldn't work unpaid overtime as a contractor. The amount of 'warning' I got was that my badge stopped working, and I had to threaten to call the police to get my personal items back from my (former) desk. I knew then that they were in deep trouble, and they have since been in the news, featured for being caught doing some creative accounting. Shortly after my experience, I discovered that I had been the 4th contractor in that position in less than 3 months.

      Since that experience, I have been more careful about what companies I contract with, and I have 'fired' more than one of my clients at the first sign of dishonesty -- also without notice. The door swings both ways.

      Word to the wise: A company that screws its employees (including contractors), its vendors, or its customers will eventually screw all three -- plus its investors. It's part of a general mindset in which the folks running the company think it's ok to screw people.
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:40AM (#5692426) Homepage Journal
    At a corporation where I was recently employed, we also were required to implement "differentiation" of consultants from staff on payroll, so that we could better demonstrate in court that the consultants were not employees and were thus not expected to have the benefits of employees.

    I think there were rules about not inviting them to employee parties, and I was told that we could not send a consultant a gift when he or she was hospitalized or had suffered a family tragedy.

    Because of this, when one extremely worthy consultant lost a parent, her gift went on my personal credit card rather than a company card. My understanding was that one or another of the managers would do this in similar cases, in this case I was the volunteer. We handled gifts out of our own pockets because we felt the policy was crass, denying the civility that we should display as managers.

    Bruce

    • We handled gifts out of our own pockets because we felt the policy was crass, denying the civility that we should display as managers.

      You were not denied civility, as you demonstrated by purchasing the gift. The only distinction is which entitiy (you or the company) paid for the gift.

      I agree that the company should have spent a small amount to show they care, but they certainly didn't restrict you in any way.
    • In fact, the eat coast is no stranger to using a permatemp 'solution' to the 'i.t. question.'

      i have been in more than one permatemp situation, each of which started as a few weeks' assignment, all while i was looking for a permanent job. the real heartbreaker of these assignments and others like them is that the corporations always make great talk about hiring a contractor permanently once the hiring freeze is lifted, or at the end of the fiscal year, or some other when-my-ship-comes-in time frame.

      Fre

      • by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @10:05AM (#5692891) Homepage
        Disadvantages of Union Representation [mackinac.org]

        In brief, the disadvantages of unions are:

        1. The loss of individuality. When a union is certified as the exclusive employee representative in a workplace, employees become members of an overall bargaining unit in which the majority rules. The ruling majority may not be sympathetic with each individual's specific employment needs or aspirations.
        2. The cost to employees. Most collective bargaining agreements require all employees to support the union financially as a condition of their continued employment.
        3. Exclusive representation. This power carries with it a duty of fair representation that requires the union to negotiate fairly on behalf of all employees in the "bargaining unit," whether they are union members or not.

        "One last disadvantage to union membership is that members can be fined or otherwise disciplined by their union for engaging in activities, which, in the union's opinion, are 'unbecoming' of union members or which violate the union's constitution and by-laws. . . ."

    • by mrtroy ( 640746 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:27AM (#5692674)
      Good for you. Especially concerning the part about gifts/flowers for mourning colleagues.

      I think Microsoft, and a variety of other corportations are missing the big picture here. First, the best and easiest way to make people work harder/better for the company is to make them feel like what they are doing matters, and that they are important. Especially in technical work, I can either do 2 hours of work and stare at my monitor for 6 hours a day, or if I feel motivated I can do 7-8 hours of work.
      Just because they are a temp does not mean that the company does not have a stake in how hard their employees are working...they are usually doing the same tasks as regular employees, which are generally quite important.

      Consultants or temps should NOT get a benefits package, consisting of medical, dental, and other coverage. The reasons for this are obvious, full timers earn this as a reward for being dedicated and committed to remaining at a company, and it is incentive to become a full timer (not to mention opportunity for abuse).
      However, they should be treated in every other way as a regular employee, the company benefits the most from that. A happy worker is a hard worker.

      This brings me to my second point, that for the small costs involved in, for example, sending flowers to an employee who lost someone close, inviting contractors/temps to employee parties, all of these small bonuses we enjoy while working, are tiny in comparison to potential gains in productivity.

      Buy the bastard 10$ in cheap wine at the company party, bring him out on the company golf day, you are renting the whole course anyways!

      I am sure there will magically be happier employees who do more work, get to work on time, and who knows...maybe when you are looking for a full timer he will apply and you will save a whole lot in training costs.

      Hell, buy him cheap champagne!
  • duh?! (Score:3, Funny)

    by thesilverbail ( 593897 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:40AM (#5692430) Homepage
    Many studies have shown that people subtly discriminate against members of an 'outgroup', even if the basis for group membership is something trivial

    Thank you for your valuable insights, Professor Plaks. And now, Professor Schmidt will tell us why 25 year old males are attracted to women of their age group.
  • The article makes it sound like people are being forced to work for M$. If people don't like their work environment, either organize a union, file a lawsuit, or quit. Whining does nothing but make you sound like a whiner.

    As a total aside...Having worked at HP, they had (have?) a policy of forcing contractors (who took home much more than full-timers per year) to take 3 months off after working there for 9 months, in order to avoid permatemp problems.
    • If people don't like their work environment, either organize a union, file a lawsuit, or quit. Whining does nothing but make you sound like a whiner.
      I prefer to keep the job and become a cynical sadistic lazy immoral pencil-stealing morale-lowering whining obstructionist trying to inflict the most damages while precisely following orders.
      • I prefer to keep the job and become a cynical sadistic lazy immoral pencil-stealing morale-lowering whining obstructionist trying to inflict the most damages while precisely following orders.

        Rob S. !!

        I didn't know you read Slashdot!
    • he article makes it sound like people are being forced to work for M$. If people don't like their work environment, either organize a union, file a lawsuit, or quit. Whining does nothing but make you sound like a whiner.

      File a lawsuit? WTF!? Ahh, the American answer to everything. I would rather someone complain about something than file a lawsuit. Damn, no wonder this country is becoming so F'd up.

      When I first read this article, I thought - wow, that sucks for them. But you know what really sucks

  • Stop whinging (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:42AM (#5692438) Homepage
    Psychological effects of having to wear an orange badge whilst other people have blue badges...? For god's sake, get a bit of backbone.

    I'm a contractor. I don't get benefits from the company I'm working for and nor should I - I'm not its employee. I would expect it to treat employees better. Frankly, I can live without 'promotional swag'. I don't get invited to company parties? Well, guess what? The client company doesn't get invited to mine either...

    As a contractor, I am the boss of my own company and I have an explicit business arrangement with the client. That's it. Doesn't go any further, shouldn't go any further. I have no interest in whether they give me blue, orange or sky-blue pink with polka dots security cards - their choice and privilege. Now sign this invoice here...

    Cheers,
    Ian

    • by grub ( 11606 )

      Psychological effects of having to wear an orange badge whilst other people have blue badges...? For god's sake, get a bit of backbone.

      "You've worked with Open Source? Here's your yellow star."

      "You don't like XP? Here's your pink triangle."
    • When I was contracting in New Zealand, we weren't invited to the staff Christmas party, so the contractors all joined together and organised their own. The work organised party was a very civilised dinner, with lots of corporate speeches, whereas the contractor party was the wildest nearly 24 hours of drunken debauchery I've ever been to.

      I've never been so happy to be excluded.
  • Uhhh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:43AM (#5692440)
    I'm a little lost - when I've been temping almost exactly the same has happened to me. Lets see:

    withholding full-time benefits and pay while working them like full-time employees

    Check. I did a 9-5 like everyone else and was paid according to the contract. Which, if it was less than others, I was SOL.

    Microsoft does not allow these workers to use employee discounts for products they help to design

    Check. So? They're a temp, that perk it would appear if for perminant staff. I don't see a problem here.

    They aren't invited to company parties. They don't get promotional swag.

    Same again. I was never invited to parties nor did I get swag from anyone. Because I was a temp.

    Contractors must wear orange name badges to contrast with the blue of full-time employees.

    Check again. Been in places where security needs to identify you as either perminant, contract, intern or whatever.

    a nickname borne from the "a-" that precedes any Microsoft temp's e-mail address.

    They're lucky they got an email address. Often I wasn't even on the network.

    Maybe the working laws are different in the US to the UK - but i've been through all the above and people here go through all the above on a daily basis without complaining.

    I can't really see what they're complaining about.

    • Re:Uhhh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blitzrage ( 185758 )
      a nickname borne from the "a-" that precedes any Microsoft temp's e-mail address.

      Yep, and I have a 9 in front of my email address to designate me as temp as well. And the problem is....?

      If I was a full time employee, and the temp was treated exactly the same as me, same perks etc... I'd probably be a little PO'd.
    • The main place where these guys got screwed was when they had the settlement, they can only work like 200 days, and then they cannot work for the company for 100 days. (I may not be exacly right on those numbers). It is really messy. I had a lot of former coworkers go and work in Redmond only to run into this brick wall. MOst of them thoguht they were doing well escaping ISP support hell.

      Now I am a little more free market than the next guy, but that kinda messed up.

      Granted if you get hired on full time o
    • Re:Uhhh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CharlieG ( 34950 )
      RE Swag:
      One Gent I used to work for (who is here on /.) has a novel paragraph in his "standard" contract. If the company gives out things like posters/ad materials (aka swag) the MUST offer him the sawg, or else they are in breach. BTW He has also carefully worded his contract that his work is "work for hire" - they don't hold up their end of the bargin, copyright remains HIS

      Remember, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for
    • The point is that Microsoft is using the temp status to get around labor laws. The aren't really temps, they're being used as permanent employees, but designating them "temps" allows MS to get around having to give them certain benefits.
  • by art123 ( 309756 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:49AM (#5692470)
    I have a friend that is party to this lawsuit. Of course he is all giddy that he will be getting some money (maybe... someday...). I told him then that this was going to be terrible for all future contractors. Of course he doesn't care because he is not there any more.

    But you can now expect all large employers to operate the same way MS is. Maybe not to the extreme of party invitations but definately with regard to length of service.

    The simple fact is that there are a lot of people that prefer to be contractors and this now limits their opportunites.

    This was mainly caused by a bunch of whiners who missed out on the stock options granted to employees. Sorry whiners, this is a free market; if you wanted the stock options then you should have tried harder to become a permanent employee or looked for another place to work. It's not like the employee benefits were withheld from you in secret.
    • Bah, the economy would be better off without contractors or temps anyway. Lets start seeing some employee loyalty again!

    • Sorry whiners, this is a free market; if you wanted the stock options then you should have tried harder to become a permanent employee or looked for another place to work.

      art123,

      While I agree with much of what you say, your point would have been better served if you had left off the "this is a free market".

      This is not a free market. If it were, the government would not be confiscating half our wages. This is a mixed economy, part "free", part socialist.

  • by fuzzybunny ( 112938 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:52AM (#5692492) Homepage Journal

    \I live in Switzerland, so this may not apply to you.\

    I'm an IT security and unix consultant/contractor here. Aside from a few years before 2001, when massive numbers of low-skill kids decided to make a quick buck as contractors, consultants are held to a far higher standard than "permies". Much as I hate to say it, there's a sense of elitism among "real" contractors here--these are the hardcore tech guys whom you bring in when something is gefuckt beyond salvation by mere mortals.

    N.b. that I don't count myself as a Superman like that, just lucky to be in the right places at the right time so far.

    I've never contracted in the US, but I recall looking at contract sysadmin jobs during college, paying $17.50 US per hour. Most of my American contractor colleagues' conversations I overhear involve an ambition to go permie, and how shitty contracting is.

    This surprises the hell out of me, as I think contractors/consultants here generate sort of a sense of "awe" (crappy word, but I can't think of anything better), as the outsider who comes in to do the _really_ hard stuff, among employees. This can develop into resentment if not handled carefully.

    One of my project managers taught me a good lesson for consulting--never cease looking at a job as an "us-vs-them" situation. Deliver more than you promised ahead of schedule and raise the bar all around, but consider yourself as providing a good example. Stokely [stokely.com] offers what I consider to be some excellent guidelines of how to go about this.

    The idea of a 'caste' system, where the permies look down at contractors amuses me to no end.
    • Coming from a large SW Engineering corporation, this is EXACTLY the role of the contractor; they are considered highly skilled and are brought in because it would be too costly to grow that level of skill from within the ranks.

      We don't pay for their vacation, we don't pay for their education. Boo Hoo. They have their own company to do that!

      SO if the contractors at MICROSOFT are having such a bad time, why don't they apply for a job and become full time MSFT?!
    • by robbo ( 4388 ) <slashdot.simra@net> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:04AM (#5692568)
      I think there are two kinds of temps. The first, the specialist, is responsible for making the perms look stupid and lazy, whereas the second, the indentured slave, is responsible for working like a dog to deliver the product and routinely grovel before his overlords...

      Somebody throw me a bone here.. :-)
    • Even these days, companies hire people unskilled in the language/situation you are coding in. Not sure why, but once they've been around as long as a perm is going to be, there is no difference... except the ability to get rid of them with maybe less nastiness on their part.
    • That's also true in the US. I work with a small company of career contractors. We are always the top tech guys in the client environment, and most of the other serious contractors I've met are the same way.

      However, among many large companies, there is definitely a feeling that the contractors are "a level beneath" the perms, even if they are smarter and more productive. Because what it comes down to is that when the money gets tight, they're going to get rid of the contractors before firing any perms.

      I
  • by Iamthefallen ( 523816 ) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:54AM (#5692502) Homepage Journal

    Before the lawsuit: MS is treating us like fulltime employees when we're not!

    After the lawsuit: MS isn't treating us like fulltime employees anymore!

    Seriously, you get a paycheck? Good. You do not have a right to anything beyond that. That's it. Don't like it? Seek a fulltime position or find work elsewhere.

    • SLIGHT disagreement

      You say

      You do not have a right to anything beyond that.

      Maybe - you don't have a right to anything that is not in your CONTRACT. Your are a contract employee -when they offer a contract, you can negotiate terms - they may or may not agree to YOUR terms

      It all depends what kind of contract employee you are. There are the grunt type, and there are the type that are brought in for their specialized skills/knowledge. If your are of the second type, you can put all sorts of things in your
  • by rf0 ( 159958 )
    In a previous life I worked at Dec^W Compaq ^W HP as a low end grunt, Moving/installing PC's etc For this I was a temp but found the atmosphere to be really nice. Now admitally at the time I was very green but even then I noticed that for the christmas party them temps got left behind. We then had our own party where we paid for a meal out. From the on in I realised there was a definite them/us where opinions didn't seem to matter so much and ideas not heard

    Just my £0.02

    Rus
  • by GothChip ( 123005 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:56AM (#5692515) Homepage
    Of course they don't get the same benefits. Contractors are mercenaries who go from job to job working for whatever company will pay them the most. Most contractors I know boast about how much more they get paid than full-time employees.

    If they want the same benefits as the rest of the full time staff then they should show some loyalty for once and ask for a full time contract. The pay may be lower but I least they can wear the same colour badge.
  • Legal Restrictions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buffy ( 8100 ) <buffyNO@SPAMparapet.net> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:57AM (#5692522) Homepage
    Silly...

    Companies are required to make a distinction between contractors and full time employees. Even simple things like company-wide mailing lists are, in theory, supposed to be segregated between the two. When push comes to shove, the company has to be able to demonstrate that contractors are NOT full timers.

    Microsoft got sued for not doing things like this. They were exploiting contractors by using them just like full time employees, but not giving the all of the benefits like insurance. _That_ was/is a slimey practice.

    So now, they are required to conform with the letter and intent of the law, and it's a "caste system." You can't have it both ways.

    The differentiation between full time and contract are there to PROTECT the contract employees.

    Anyways, in this day, most people are just happy to have a job.

    Just my $0.02.

    -buf
  • To even more clearly delineate the role of contractors, Microsoft does not allow these workers to use employee discounts for products they help to design. They aren't invited to company parties. They don't get promotional swag. And many times they don't get the respect they deserve from full time Microsofties.

    They aren't full time Microsofties, simple....and if they are a contractor that feels they are getting taken advantage of by MS, then find another gig!

    [SARCASM]Yeah, yeah I know that that the Seattl

  • by zentec ( 204030 ) <zentec@gmail.HORSEcom minus herbivore> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:04AM (#5692566)

    It's truly unfortunate that the Microsoft employees started this "caste" system. While the corporate management could do more to eliminate this nonsense, the truth of the matter is that the Microsoft employees are mostly responsible.

    You only need to look at the moniker "dash trash" to see how a full-time Microsoft employee feels about a contractor. But why should this surprise anyone, Microsoft is one of the most arrogant and self-righteous companies on the face of the planet (superceding SGI at its peak).

    What's truly unfortunate is that Microsoft employees employ this "caste" system, yet they are largely a benefactor of contractors themselves. It's well established that Microsoft likes to compensate employees with Microsoft money (stocks, stock options). You do not need to be a Wall Street analyst to know that the biggest attraction of using contractors is reduced employee costs, which translates into more profit and better stock prices.

    Of course, the full-time Microsoft employees know this. They know *everything*.
  • Serious Issues: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:05AM (#5692576) Homepage

    From the article:

    ... the use of temps also helps the stock value. When layoffs occur, stock prices go down. But because contractors are not officially employees, the company is not required to publicly disclose a large release of those working in these positions.

    "This," West says, "makes the company look like it is performing better than it actually is. It gives people a false sense of what's going on in the organization."

    When times are bad, Microsoft can lay off hundreds of contingent workers without a word to the analysts or to shareholders.


    See this also, about the practice of firing every consultant after one year, then hiring them after 100 days of unemployment:

    "Those who work neither as blue- nor orange-badges may wonder why they should care about Microsoft's practices. The answer is that from day 366 to day 466, Microsoft temps still get paid. Only the check is written not by Bill Gates, but by the State of Washington. [unemployment benefits from the state]

    As our state government faces budget crisis after budget crisis, there are legions of temporary workers that regularly go on the dole because their assignments have ended. Whether a Microsoft employee or not, every Washington resident pays for the company's unwillingness to put these people on its payroll.

    • This wasn't the case before the lawsuit. These are standard practices at every big company ever since the MS permatemp lawsuit went through. The MS contractors that are complaining have nobody to blame but themselves. They complained that MS was treating them like fulltime employees without extending the benefits. Were they dumb enough to believe that MS upon losing many millions of dollars in this lawsuit would make them fulltime employees and forget about the whole thing?

      Comeon now - bash MS all you
  • This article is BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gamorck ( 151734 ) <jaylittle A T j a y l ittle DOT com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:08AM (#5692590) Homepage
    Look I've been a contractor for awhile with a very large company and let me give you a little bit of insight into the reality of this situation. Before the permatemp suit with MS, contractors everywhere who worked for big companies had it A LOT better than they do now. When I first started at my current position, there wasn't anybody worrying about the 365 day limit or whether or not they should invite a contractor to a company party.

    When this suit went through - everything changed. 365 day employment limits came down like clamps and contractors became somewhat more alienated in the grand scheme of things. In the long run this doesn't bother me as I believe the pros of contracting still far outweigh the cons. Not to mention the fact that there are several loopholes which can be employed to keep contractors longer than a year (which incidently are currently keeping me employed here since I've been here close to 3 years).

    Does this situation bother me? Not too much. Does the linked article bother me? Damn straight it does. These contractors that work for MS really have nobody to blame but themselves for the current set of restrictions they work under. Frankly I'm amazed that these people complained in the first place. As a contractor you are typically paid by the hour rather than salaried. This means that (A) you either work less than your fulltime coworkers or (B) are better compensated for your time spent at work or even (C) both. What truly boggles the mind is that these people sounded like they were getting some fulltime benefits such as product discounts, party invites, and a few other things. So I have to ask, what was the problem? The answer of course is that they got greedy.

    Personally I have absolutely no urge to work fulltime for anybody again. Clamor on all you want about better benefits and other intangibles that come with being a fulltime slave but keep this in mind: A lot of contracting agencies provide a full benefits package (i.e. Mine) along with paying the actual employee more money and they still somehow manage to do this cheaper than their customers are able to. And to top it all off, in all of my three years in my current position I've only worked over 40 hours a week once. That leaves a lot of time for recreational and social activities that I otherwise would have to forego.

    Bottom Line: The MS contractors made it worse for everybody else so I have nothing to say beyond "fuck you" when I hear them complaining about what has sprung from the seeds they have sown. I know a lot of you will view this story as an opportunity to bash MS but keep in mind that everything was fine and dandy right up until the contractors got a little too greedy for their own good.

    J
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @10:38AM (#5693070)
      As usual, another completely uninformed opinion on slashdot.

      Here is a little history for you.

      1. Microsoft forces a number of employees to switch to contract positions as a means of reducing cost of benefits. Essentially these people are forced into a paycut through a change in employment method. It is either accept this change in status or lose your job. Back in the early 90s when this happened, there wasn't much of a job market to speak of so these people bent over and took it.

      2. Microsoft continues to treat these former employees exactly how they were treated before their switch to contractor status. Except not pay them benefits. Same responsibilities, same employer-imposed restrictions.

      3. The IRS comes along and says, "these people do not satisfy the 20 questions rule [synergistech.com] for distinguishing between contractors and employees." This ruling is largely the result of Microsoft treating these contractors exactly the same way before and after the switch from employee to contractor status.

      4. The IRS says, since they are employees, Microsoft must now pay back-taxes on FICA and Medicare. This is double-dipping by the IRS because the contractors have already paid those taxes and they won't get them back, but that is the way the law works. Plus, now Microsoft has to start to satisfy the 20 questions rule.

      5. The contractors that have now been officially reclassified as employees by the US government say, "If I was an employee, where are my benefits?" In particular, 401K and profit-sharing - the internet bubble was really starting to bulge and the money involved was enough to retire on for a lot of them. They go to court as the infamous permatemp lawsuit and they win a very clearcut case.

      So, all this grumbling about how the contractors screwed themselves is baloney. MS tried to screw some employees, the IRS busted their ass and MS started obeying the rules, meanwhile the screwed employees got what the benefits they were entitled to in the first place.

      Meanwhile the entire industry over-reacts and instead of being content to satisfy a majority of the 20 questions, most big companies want to get as close to 100% coverage as possible. Part of the problem here is that the IRS doesn't spell out what the minimum requirement is, that is left up to their discretion on a case by case basis. But the other side of the problem is corporate conservatism where they would rather shoot themselves in the foot than try to put together a reasonable policy.
    • by ojQj ( 657924 )
      I was an intern at Microsoft for 4 months, and I have to admit that the temp issue wasn't the major issue on my radar screen. Also the economy was a lot better while I was there. Still here's my take anyways.

      I was told by MS employees that temps get more in regular salary than full-time employees. MS makes up the difference for full-time employees with stock options. But people who prefer to be payed in cash were working for Microsoft as contractors solely for that reason.

      Stock options are cheaper for

  • Same Story at Intel (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pontiac ( 135778 )
    Contractors get about the same rap at Intel..
    The only thing different is we have a green badge instead of orange..

    When the president came to talk.. We didn't get invited.

    Team building.. Hey where did all the blues go??

    You had to be blue to use the on-site exersize room. Naturaly they held the blood drive in there so only blue badges could donate blood. I guess our blood just wasn't blue enough for them eh?

    Contractors had to swipe in every time they left the building.. Blue could come and go without sto
  • by LookSharp ( 3864 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:18AM (#5692634)
    As someone who has been interviewed by a journalist for a similar article (taken completely out of context by the New York Times, no less), I think I detect some serious fudging here.

    When a reporter goes to get "the story," they start with something either they THINK they can make a big hit with, or take some cruddy assignment and try to take off with it. They interview some people "in the thick" of the issue, and get some "expert" opinions.

    This particular article seems to be a re-hash of some old '90s era brou-ha-ha about FTEs vs. Contractors at Microsoft. And it starts out with "you thought you knew the whole story. But we have MORE horrifying, panic inducing rumor and speculation to throw at you now!"

    They then spin sound bites from their interviews to argue their angle for the story. And barring that, take a couple of really positive sound bites, like Jannell Myers did in this article, followed by "but others would tend to disagree!" Follow with the thrust of your angle, without any supporting opinions or evidence.

    Throw in the testimony of a psychiatrist who basically says "yeah, people outside of a clique often feel left out; and the people in the clique make fun of them."

    To flesh it all out, we go for the "public outrage" angle. We get the implication that all of these poor defenseless contractors go on unemployment when they leave Microsoft, and Microsoft is placing undue liability on Joe Taxpayer by their naughty employment practices!

    Honestly, this is one of the most transparent pieces of dispassionate journalism I have seen in months. If I were teaching Journalism 101, Jannell Myers gets an "F-."

  • by mbbac ( 568880 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:25AM (#5692660)
    The key point of the article is this:
    Those who work neither as blue- nor orange-badges may wonder why they should care about Microsoft's practices. The answer is that from day 366 to day 466, Microsoft temps still get paid. Only the check is written not by Bill Gates, but by the State of Washington [through unemployment insurance].
  • by wjsteele ( 255130 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:26AM (#5692666)
    First of all... I am a blue badge. And anything I say is MY point of view.

    But... I was a contracter in a previous life... and I worked for a company who outsourced me to other companies. My benefits came from the company I worked for... not the client companies.

    Secondly, the hours I worked were defined by my contract that bound me to my employer... not the client ocmpany.

    Thirdly, the unemployement benefits are NOT funded by the government as the article states. Companies pay into a fund that is used to pay these employees who are out of work. It's like an insurance fund, but it's required. Now... it is also up to the contractors employer to keep them busy... they know exactly when they will be let go by MS so it's not like it's a suprise or anything. If the contractors employer decides to lay them off, then it goes against their (not Microsoft's) unemployment account.

    Oh... and finally, the v- or a- or t- simply means that someone is a vendor, admin or intern. I've never heard the term "Dash Trash" in all my years at MS.

    Bill
  • by epsalon ( 518482 ) <slash@alon.wox.org> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:26AM (#5692671) Homepage Journal
    As mistreatment of constructors, and was looking forward to read about C++?
  • Company must hire to meet work demand in a fluctuating economy. Government regulates pay and benefits to full-time employees to make them very expensive. Company reacts by hiring more part-timers and temps.

    Government regulates temps to try to force companies to hire more full-time workers. Company pushes temps to the margins. Full-time workers given busier workload and longer hours.

    Arguably the company may eventually hire more full time workers, but at the expense of a lot of decent part-time and temp job
    • by The Ape With No Name ( 213531 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @10:38AM (#5693067) Homepage
      Company must hire to meet work demand in a fluctuating economy.

      Or is that to create supply? Funny how "free-market" capitalists can't make up their minds.

      Government regulates pay and benefits to full-time employees to make them very expensive.

      Right. Please demonstrate how the government regulates pay at a private firm.

      Company reacts by hiring more part-timers and temps.

      Because it is too concerned with short-term bottom-lining than long term growth of its company with dedicated employees who show up to do incredible work for a good wage and benefit package.

      Government regulates temps to try to force companies to hire more full-time workers.

      Again, show how the government does this.

      Company pushes temps to the margins.

      By definition, a temp is a marginal worker.

      Full-time workers given busier workload and longer hours.

      Because, company is too concerned about short-term bottom-lining to invest in more dedicated workers devoted to the company and rewarded with a good wage and benefits package.

      Arguably the company may eventually hire more full time workers, but at the expense of a lot of decent part-time and temp jobs.

      Part-time and temp jobs which do not pay benefits and are usually lower waged, thereby increasing the profits for the company at the expense of workers.

      See where this is going folks?

      Yes.

      I remember when the commie pinkos picked up the cause or the "temps" and "contracted workers" a few years ago.

      Wheeeeee! Red Baiting! Welcome back to the 1950s! Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party? No. But you were a member of the IBEW? Ummm, that's a union not a Soviet cadre.

      Only an idiot would doublt it would end in the same way the "benefits" of unionizing did.

      I am waiting to see how this ends... Waiting... Waiting...
  • by Ratbert42 ( 452340 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:37AM (#5692713)
    I don't understand how Microsoft can call these people "contractors". They fail many of the IRS's 20 points [proforce-staffing.com]. They do the same job as employees, are "hired" as induhviduals, sound like they work set hours and get paid by the hour, not by the project, work in MS's offices, get provided computers, phones, and email, etc.

  • by Slowping ( 63788 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:38AM (#5692717) Homepage Journal
    Before we go too far into the MS bashing, or Other-Big-Like-Evil-Company(TM) bashing for caste mentality division in the workforce, remember that we have a similar problem in the OSS world.

    Anti-noob and RTFM mentality is a serious obstacle for the heavily geek-driven projects in the OSS world. Both on the side of new developers and new users. These are important people and a valuable resource for renewing project growth, ideas, and direction.

    Just something to think about...
    • Before we go too far into the MS bashing, or Other-Big-Like-Evil-Company(TM) bashing for caste mentality division in the workforce, remember that we have a similar problem in the OSS world.

      Anti-noob and RTFM mentality is a serious obstacle for the heavily geek-driven projects in the OSS world. Both on the side of new developers and new users. These are important people and a valuable resource for renewing project growth, ideas, and direction.

      Exactly [slashdot.org].

      We need to seriously look at how Apple has cultivat

  • Is it that bad? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by andy1307 ( 656570 )
    Microsoft does not allow these workers to use employee discounts for products they help to design. They aren't invited to company parties.
    . So they dont get to use Windows and go to office parties...Is this so bad..Most people would prefer to go from employee to contractors if they got paid more and didnt have to go to the inane company parties.
  • by zugedneb ( 601299 )
    that this is segregation. It means that your
    chance to meet someone interesting is reduced.

    The more people are invited to the party, the
    greater chance you have to find
    someone to have a relationship with.

    That IS the point with a party, or what???

    The rule of life: do not reject people for
    stupid and pointless reasons.
    Or live and die alone.

    zugedneb
  • I don't have a blue badge!
    I have a dash in front of my name!
    Nobody loves me!


    Geez, get over it people. You are contractors, not kindergarteners.
  • Who's the messenger? (Score:2, Informative)

    by LO0G ( 606364 )
    The article completely fails to mention that WashTech is a union that's been trying to organize technical workers in Washington State for YEARS with absolutely no success. Reading it carefully, the article appears to be a P.R. piece written by WashTech as a piece of propoganda to try to encourage people to join the union....
  • by mercenaryCoder ( 656282 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @11:35AM (#5693424)

    This whole thing irritates me. Allot of the "problems" I've seen have stemmed from these morons and their lawsuit in the first place. I know suing people to get something for nothing is becoming part of the American Way, but get a grip. Because of this stupid suit, my current client has a 12 month limit on contracts and a required 90 day break in service to regain contract elligibillity.

    Contractors are NOT employees. We get a nice fat hourly rate (if not, bend over and grab your ankles while your at it) for the work we do for our CLIENT. That's it. Want more, call your mommy and whine to her!

    I personally do not want any perks that are going to cut into my rate. I work to get paid. I do things for fun off the clock. I thought an honest days pay for an honest days work was part of our moral fiber.

    Want security? Join the drones and be an FTE. Just remember corporations will cut your throat to save their bottom line.

  • In '94-'95 I was both a Microsoft contractor (they called us "variable employees") and a full time employee, so I've seen it from both sides. Let me make one point crystal clear: my job duties as a contractor and as a permanent employee were identical. The only thing that changed upon being hired permanently was the color of my badge, increased employment benefits, and higher social status in the company.

    The management absolutely treated contractors as second class employees, as completely disposable. Here's a story to illustrate: I worked in the end user phone tech support division. After I was hired on as a permanent, the decision was made to cut ALL contractors due to low end user support demand. My roommate at the time was a contractor, and he was given his walking papers. He had more time at the company than me, far more recognition for his skills, was a member of the trouble ticket escalation team, etc., yet he was fired for no other reason than that he was a contractor. (along with about 400 others...)
  • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (traehtfiws)> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @01:41PM (#5693986)
    Most of the posts here have to do with consulting/permatemping in the IT field...permatemping in the non-IT field is slightly different, since the pay is usually quite a lot lower, and there are a few other things of note.

    I worked for the financial services arm of a large european auto company (whose name begins with B and ends with W) and the cost to the company for me was just a little bit lower than for a regular employee, when extra administrative costs and temp company costs were added in. The claim was that headquarters in Germany specifically authorized headcount, and apparently that took ages to do, so the only solution was to have permatemp employees.

    They did make some effort to move employees over, except for the fact that, since we were a "bank" of some type, they took credit issues seriously. You could get hired as a temp with bad credit, but you couldn't get hired as a perm with bad credit, and worse, if the company found out about your bad credit in your application, you jeopardized your temp. position.

    That essentially meant that we had permatemp employees making a lot less than regular employees stuck in permatemp positions, and oddly enough, they sorta of worked up the ladder in the permatemp system, so they were often people who were somewhat key to the system based on their knowledge and experience.

    The other odd thing was, after I left, that temps could apply for full time positions in the first month they worked in a position there, or after a year of working there. They could not apply for a full time position in months 2 through 11. This apparently was to reduce the amount of talented temps jumping into perm jobs ahead of other perm employees. The reports I've had are that if the temp is talented and realizes this, they just go elsewhere after month 1.

    I do have some sympathy for the badge issue, in that it can be symbolic (we didn't have the same issue ourselves per se, temp badges did not have photos on them, and I was ecstatic to have a non-photo badge, and the perm employees were always cheesed off that they had to have photo ones. Perhaps a person who liked being photographed would have had a different attitude on it.) Our symbolic issue was the car, in that a perm employee could get a really great lease on a car after one year of working there. When I first got there, the time working as a temp was counted toward your one year...however, shortly before I left, it was decided to change that so that only the time working as a perm employee would be counted for that year. It caused a bunch of us to leave, since it was such a symbolic disappointment. (I drove a Saab anyway, a vastly superior car, which admittedly kept me on their shit-list.)

    I volunteered to be a notary public (we had a use for a few of em.) The cost of training a notary was $40, but the company didn't want temps to be trained, no particular reason why. If a temp came in as a notary, all the cooler; and it would have made a lot of sense for them to train me, since I was there at times when most of the other notaries werent, yet, they didn't want to.

    In the long run though, it was the pay...the difference between the $17/hr of a perm employee and the $10/hr of a temp was heartbreaking at times. I'm glad I'm no longer there.

  • by StyleChief ( 656649 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:17PM (#5694288)
    Contractors at IBM are not even allowed to talk to their own managers. They must communicate through their contracting firm. The badges are different, the e-mail addresses are different, they are not allowed to go to group functions, including their own department's meetings. Like many Very Large Corporations of America, they treat valuable and important workers as if they were third class citizens in a caste system. We have the legal system and the greed of lawyers to thank for this (not to mention the folks that worked at IBM as contractors and decided to sue the hand that fed them).
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug.geekazon@com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @06:38PM (#5697048) Homepage
    I've been contracting mostly at MS for about 5 years, and yes, contractors are treated differently in all the tangible ways mentioned in the article. But I haven't noticed any caste system, or a demeaning attitude on the part of full-timers I have worked with. I expect that, like most things, it depends on individuals. Some people probably look down on others for wearing dorky clothes.

    One point I strongly disagree with was the assertion that we are all on the dole for our 100-days off. I sat out my first hiatus because I could afford to. I didn't even collect unemployment that time. The second one happened during the dotcom crash, which hit the Seattle area especially hard. I did go on unemployment that time, and it took several months to find another contract job (which turned out not to be at Microsoft). Next I came back to MS and am now looking for another job as my year is about to end.

    Maybe my experience isn't typical, but I fail to see how being a temp at Microsoft should stop anyone from looking for jobs elsewhere when the year is up. Any contract job anywhere could end after a year, and then you move on. You don't just lie there until the same company hires you back. How difficult is this concept?

In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter

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