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Activision Sued For Unpaid Overtime 78

In the wake of EA's employee settlement, Activision finds itself in a suit for much the same reason. Next Generation reports: "Activision's Computer Graphics employees, who work many overtime hours to produce Activision's profitable videogames, fully deserve to be paid all the overtime compensation to which they are entitled under the law ... Excessive overtime is endemic in the videogame industry, but we hope that this and other lawsuits will spur major changes in the way employers treat their employees."
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Activision Sued For Unpaid Overtime

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So Activision still exists? Didn't they make Pitfall?
  • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:05PM (#15249877)
    The entire notion of unpaid overtime is complete bollocks.

    It's bad for the employee, since they can be taken advantage of.

    It's bad for the company, since it provides a method to ameilorate poor planning by providing unpaid labour, thus badly weakening one of the main incentives to plan properly - COST.

    Companies like unpaid overtime in the same way drug addicts like their fix; it feels good ("phew, project saved!") which in fact being terribly harmful.

    • Not to mention:

      - Most people are less efficient and effective the longer the hours they work.
      - Lots of unpaid overtime is one of the quickest ways to a disgruntled workforce, which in turn is one of the quickest ways to send a company down the tubes.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      In some places it gets even better. Consider folks logging extra hours against projects. Those hours get expensed but who is paid for those hours when you're salaried? Work gets capitalized but what happens when someone logs 41+ hours that are capitalized but you still only get paid for 40...

      HMMM...
      This is all conjecture of course.
    • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @03:26AM (#15251762)
      Actually, from my own personal experience of having worked as a software developer both in 10h/day (2h unpaid) jobs and 8h/day ones (different countries), after about a month of continuous working 10h/day your total dailly productivity (in those 10h) is actually lower than would be (in an 8h working day) under an 8h/day regime.

      Even more important is the fact that tired people make a lot more bugs than rested ones, and bugfixing can easilly be 10 or 100 (or even 1000 or 10000 if the software gets released with the bugs) times more costly to do than doing the work right in the first place.

      Of course, the project might still have been released on time with the help of overworking ... only to stall for months in beta testing, be rejected by clients which are not interested in buggy software or have a long tail-period where bugs are being reported and bugfixes are constantly being developed and released to the customers.

      From what i've seen, overworking prospers mostly in companies with clueless middle-management or industries with clueless clients (which are used to buggy and/or incomplete deliverables) and where developers are mostly young, male and single (easiest ones to convince that "this is the normal way of doing things").
  • They used too many words in Excessive overtime is endemic in the videogame industry. It's just as accurate to say Excessive overtime is endemic, at least for most of the jobs that I have had.

    As for changing the attitude of employers, it's not likely to happen. Employers enjoy getting as much work for as little outlay as they can, and once they burn people out they feel no qualms about getting rid of "the deadweight".

    • More people who get burned out ought to get guns- then maybe the corporations would begin to take a different attitude towards "deadweight". I wonder how many C-level executives would have to die to make the change?
      • More people who get burned out ought to get guns- then maybe the corporations would begin to take a different attitude towards "deadweight". I wonder how many C-level executives would have to die to make the change?

        Here's an idea -- once you get burned out at a stressful job, try quitting instead of murdering some middle managers (who probably hates their jobs as much as you hate yours).
        • Here's an idea: don't stay in a stupidly stressful job in the first place. Really, there's plenty of good employers out there, particularly when the market is growing as it is today. The only reason to prop up bad employers with your hard-earned skill and expertise is laziness. If you don't have the skill and expertise to make this choice, perhaps (quite sincerely) you're in the wrong line of work, and be better investing your time in gaining experience or useful qualifications in another field.

          • If you don't have the skill and expertise to make this choice, perhaps (quite sincerely) you're in the wrong line of work, and be better investing your time in gaining experience or useful qualifications in another field.

            Most people don't have the extra money to get thousands of degrees until they find out what they're good at- they have to make a decision by the time they're 18, and do their best to gain that training by the time they're 28 at the latest.
            • and that's your employer's problem how, exactly?
              • and that's your employer's problem how, exactly?

                Consumers need to pay for what they use. In other words, if my employer chooses to burn me out on my chosen profession, then that employer owes me the full value of that education- and the full value of the expected career thereof. Not burning me out is cheaper, as it means that my education and talents can be sold to the next employer down the road.

                It's basically the idea of "Thou shalt not make money off of other people's misery"- an ideal that admitedl
                • I know, snide little one-liners aren't actually helpful, but I couldn't resist.

                  What I was trying to get at was that it's not the employer's responsibility to make certain that the employee is sufficiently compensated for their work. It's the employee's responsibility to negotiate for themselves compensation which they feel is sufficient.

                  Not everyone will succeed. Some people have unreasonable views on what is sufficient compensation. However, if you feel that you can make more money, or simply have a bet
                  • Your arguement depends on the actual existence of the theoretical "free market." Whether or not the market is "free" is up for debate. There is quite a bit of evidence that it is not.

                    "H1b," among other things...
                  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @01:00AM (#15251457)
                    I ain't seeing it, is there a website to look at? Some GPS coordinates?

                    How many times do you have to quit a job and move maybe and get another job, etc, before you notice that most employers today are ..well.. rank assholes. Nice employers with a fair and honest system in place are the exception, not the rule anymore, because they can get away with it. remember Wallstreet, the movie "Greed...is good!" that is their motto and how they do things now. if it means the CEO makes an extra 50 million-that is what happens. if it means the company gradually goes down the tubes-they don't care, they are in in for what they can loot-short term profit mentality.

                    We don't have a moderation system for employers in this nation, nothing official anyway, and most states are "right to fire you because we are assholes" rule.. The government rarely forces a corporation to just cease business, no matter what things they pull or how many people they screw over. The government gives *tax breaks* for corporations to move their labor overseas, this is free trade..how? The government lets corporations publish completely bogus job help-wanted specs that no human could hope to fill-purely as a paperwork compliance scam, so they can import cheaper white collar labor under the HB-x rules. This is free trade-how? Anything that isn't white collar they have for years allowed unlimited massive waves of illegals in to dilute the labor pool and drop down wages-this is "free trade"-how? And corporations can and do act as cartels, and also have the large chunks of cash money *bribes* that they use to pay for legislation. Yes, bribes, no other word for it, bribes. How is joe little guy supposed to come up with 50 grand apiece per representative and senator to "lobby" for this or that law that might make his labor "free trade" more effective and "profitable"? And heavens forbid people want to unionize so they might have an equal footing with management, goes against "free trade" rulezz somehow, you are supposed to "negotiate" against a billion dollar corporation which has an illegal immigrant or a foreign worker at 1/10th the going rate to "negotiate back" against you. Free trade?? It doesn't exist. Scam trade, corrupt plutocracy and high level collaboration to destroy the US middle class worker is the system in place now. They want two classes of humans, worker drones so desparate they will take any job at any wage and have a dismal living situation-then the bosses and owners. That's reality now, that's what the 'free trade" globalists want, not some fantasy "free trade" bullshit where your individual labor is somehow "equal" to the power and influence a billion dollar transnational corporation has.

                    Want to see the proof? In a very few words, and this is near universal now, about every company out there. You are a "human resource", like the copier or a mop or a ton of coal. That's it, you have lost your personhood, your humanity, you are no longer part of the "person-ell", you are a "resource" and resources are by definition "exploited".

                    The only "free trade" is the big companies are "free" to trade us around. This is called slavery in the old days, now all they do is tie into a phony credit/money/debtors prisoner-in-place scam, you are "paid" to go into debt forever, you can never pay it off, you have so called personal debt and "national" debt. Try to pay it ALL off, go ahead, try. They will never let you do it. Look at your car, you don't have title, you have certificate of title, the state owns the title. Same with your home unless you are one of the very fortunate and lucky ones to have a land patent. they own the house-that's why they can tax you on it forever. Make you pay rent.

                    It's modern gussified up slavery, that's all. You are "free" to quit asshole company A to go work for asshole company B, c, D or E. What a good deal! Wait you say, just quit all of them and go move to the woods? Sorry, that is "illegal", you can get arrested if they feel like it for being pennil
                  • "What I was trying to get at was that it's not the employer's responsibility to make certain that the employee is sufficiently compensated for their work. It's the employee's responsibility to negotiate for themselves compensation which they feel is sufficient."

                    That said, I think not being an asshole should be everyone's responsibility.

                    So what if it is not legally required (probably shouldn't be, because that leads to worse things ;) ).

                    I rather have a world where it can and should be assumed that the other
                  • What I was trying to get at was that it's not the employer's responsibility to make certain that the employee is sufficiently compensated for their work. It's the employee's responsibility to negotiate for themselves compensation which they feel is sufficient.

                    The problem with this theory is that the employee is negotiating from a position of extreme weakness. I don't care who you are- under globalization, there is somebody, somewhere, who is as smart as you are who WILL do your job for less if offered it
                    • Are you paid more than minimum wage?

                      Do you receive any benefits beyond a simple wage?

                      If the Evil Corporations can do anything they want, why don't they refuse to pay you more than the legal minimum... after all... you have no choice but to work for them... since the market's rigged and you're not unique and someone else could do it just as well.
                    • Are you paid more than minimum wage?

                      Not by a corporations. Corporations have refused to hire me at all since 2001.

                      Do you receive any benefits beyond a simple wage?

                      Only thanks to the state- which has a vested interest in paying a living wage (seeing as how my job is keeping me off of welfare- they can pay me one way or another).

                      If the Evil Corporations can do anything they want, why don't they refuse to pay you more than the legal minimum... after all... you have no choice but to work for them... si
                  • Agreed. But that only works when you aren't tied down with bills to pay every month.

                    Which is why I am still living with my parents.

                  • It is certainly your right to complain, and to seek improvements from within. However, I have little (some, but very little) sympathy for people who say "my boss treats me like crap" but then refuse to leave because "it's too hard" to find a better place.

                    And for those with non-compete agreements?

  • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:16PM (#15249962) Homepage Journal
    If you are in a salaried position then you don't get overtime. Period. If you take a job with a contract involving completing a project in 18 months for $40k/yr then you are going to finish the project for $60k regardless of how many hours you work in those 18 months. The other side of this coin is getting better control of your time off (short and long term). If you don't like this then take an hourly position, duh.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This simply isn't true across the board. In the city I live in, a salaried woman sued her employer for a crapload of unpaid overtime and won. Even though her contract specified she would not get paid for OT, she won the case.

      Normally, if you signed such a contract, it would be under the assumption that overtime would be infrequent. Employers then take advantage of you and work you 9 hours a day if they like.

      Score one for the working stiff!
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:25PM (#15250034)

      Except that in our industry, the only hourly positions are contract jobs. It would be quite amusing to see the big names fall like dominos if all the good guys did turn contractor overnight, and suddenly charge what they were actually worth to the company rather than what was offered when they signed up, but for now, the "market forces" make this unlikely.

      That doesn't mean that the practice of saying someone's on salary and so should work unlimited hours is ethical. Indeed, many countries have laws that outright ban the practice, because the only people who think it's a good idea are incompetent managers.

      • if all the good guys did turn contractor overnight, and suddenly charge what they were actually worth to the company rather than what was offered when they signed up, but for now, the "market forces" make this unlikely.

        This is actually what seems to be happening in Holland at the moment, at least for senior software designer/developer positions.

        About 3 months ago, all of the sudden most companies decided the worst (of the recession) was over and that they really needed to do those software upgrades/implemen
    • True. I also don't work it. You want me to work more than 40 hours a week, and its not because I made a mistake that caused the overtime? Find some other patsy, I'm not that stupid. Salaried does not mean the company owns our lives.
    • If you take a job with a contract involving completing a project in 18 months for $40k/yr then you are going to finish the project for $60k regardless of how many hours you work in those 18 months.

      The lesson here is not to take any such contracts that lack provisions for any kind of project overrun.

      If the requirements change halfway through the project, and it throws schedules off to the point where it's going to take 24 months to finish it instead of 18, or will require me to work 70-hour weeks instead of
    • In some places it's nearly impossible to work hourly in the tech field. The real problem with unpaid overtime with salaried employees is that it generates abuse. A project sets an arbitrary deadline that can't be met. Tech-worker joe never saw the plan, never could contest the estimates, never sees a proper scope set for the work to be done; scope creaps, estimates are ignored and the plan is thrown out the window. But that's ok, everyone will work 60 hours a day for 2 weeks so a Project Manager can hit
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think so.

      First, according to the USL's FLSA, "**most** employees in the United States be paid [...] overtime pay at time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek."

      Also, there are only 5 categories of jobs that are exempt from overtime. Just this week, I know my employer illegally classified me as exempt.

      http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay /fs17a_overview.htm [dol.gov]
      • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @05:47AM (#15252135) Homepage Journal
        Do you even read your own links? One of the specific exempt categories:
        Computer Employee Exemption

        To qualify for the computer employee exemption, the following tests must be met:
        • The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour;
        • The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below;
        • The employee's primary duty must consist of:
          1. The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;
          2. The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
          3. The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
          4. A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

        $455/wk is a decent wage where I live, and I doubt many programmers make less. Duty #2 pretty much exactly sums up the job of your average programmer.
        • That may address computer programming specifically, but I believe that his post was in response to someone claiming that "If you are salaried, you are not entitled to overtime, period." In that context it is still valid, as there are many many possible salaried jobs out there that are not exempt from overtime by the Department of Labor.

          Furthermore, most states have additional employment laws that may be even more strict than the federal laws, and those laws may further limit who can be considered an "exe
    • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @07:50PM (#15250201) Homepage Journal
      The law - and the courts - have said otherwise. Abusive contract provisions are not enforceable, and are routinely struck down in cases like this.

      There is a difference between salaried and salaried exempt, after all. Were you aware of this?

      As a general rule (and it varies somewhat by state, though the feds set minimum standards), to be salaried exempt (without the exempt, you are very explicitly entitles to overtime), you must be one of the following:

      1) A regulated professional (as in, your profession is regulated by some government agency as to your competence).

      2) A manager - that means you must have subordinates, and you must spend at least half your time supervising them (among other restrictions).

      3) An executive - which means you get very broad discretion in how you do your job.

      4) A computer professional (who meets specific criteria in the labor code) who makes a minimum amount per week (which varies rather a lot by state (in California, for example, the minimum is the equivalent of $47.81 per hour, or nearly $100,000 a year).

      If you meet one of those criteria, you may legally be salaried exempt. Otherwise, regardless of what your contract says, you may not legally be classsified as salaried exempt.

      Of course, all this applies only to employees. What I would expect Activision to claim is that these folks are contract labor, but that can get mighty complicated, too. Microsoft got hit a few years ago on the same thing, and lost, despite what they thought were bulletproof contracts.

      I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Activision is paying taxes for these people, which will definitely make them employees, not contractors.

      (I am not a lawyer, and laws vary by state. If this matters to you, you'd have to be an idiot to not consult a qualified labor attorney local to you.)
      • Very useful info. Do you by chance have any links or keywords one would search for to gather additional info?
      • Are you sure about the manager idea?

        I heard of banks and Walmart experimenting with the idea of making everyone a manager in name so they dont have to pay overtime.
        I dont know if this is common practice but the big corps responded back by mentioning they would implement this if such overtime laws ever went into affect.
        • I am absolutely certain.

          http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/fairpay /fs17a_overview.htm [dol.gov] is a link to the Department of Labor's fact sheet on the subject.

          (Laws varied by state, but this is the minimum standard to protect employees.)

          I would be amazed if anyone with as much money as Walmart or any bank would ever consider such a blatantly illegal scheme (though many have tried other, more subtle schemes).
          • Walmart? Your kidding?

            You may want to google them and use the term unethical when your bored. Walmart is also using imminent domain laws and lobbying to create new super centers. That means Walmart is just taking land away from people.

            Also their headquarters was upgraded courtesy of our tax dollars of course costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Disgusting isn't it?
            • Walmart? Your kidding?

              Nope.

              You may want to google them and use the term unethical when your bored. Walmart is also using imminent domain laws and lobbying to create new super centers. That means Walmart is just taking land away from people.

              Simply untrue. Walmart is convincing various local governments to use emminent domain (which I can, at least, spell) to take land, where they can. Walmart does not have the power of emminent domain, not being a government branch.

              Mistakes like yours are one of the reasons
              • Simply untrue. Walmart is convincing various local governments to use eminent domain (which I can, at least, spell) to take land, where they can. Walmart does not have the power of emminent domain, not being a government branch.

                Fixed.

          • I would be amazed if anyone with as much money as Walmart or any bank would ever consider such a blatantly illegal scheme (though many have tried other, more subtle schemes).

            I don't think they'd do anything so risky. Read the expemption requirements. They'd have to give them the right to hire and fire other staff.
    • Yeah. Never works that way. If that were the case, you could leave early or not come in at all, and they couldn't say anything, as long as you were meeting your targets.

      Instead, "salary" workers are often required to work a minimum number of hours (often 45 or more per week) and fill out time cards, are given a limited number of sick days, and are not allowed to work from home.

  • EA: Hmmm...India is looking better and better every year...
    • .. And believe it or not Activision will do just this as they dont have to follow overtime laws in India where the cost of productivity is much much lower.

      These programmers are just shooting themselves in the foot unfortunately and this whole outsourcing thing sucks as it makes corporations a way out of following US laws and we get screwed when we want them enforced.
      • so the solution is for everytone to work in the conditions and pay of a guy in india, yet pay silicon valley rents? I dont think so.
        This is the kind of things that unions exist to fight against, so if your anti union, you have to accept that 3rd world working practices and conditions are the end result.
        • by Duds ( 100634 )
          And how do unions effectively fight outsourcing?

          It's actually a serious question. Becuause unions can't stop an employer making people redundant. They might make it more expensive but I can't see how they can prevent it.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:32PM (#15250417) Journal
    Yet the corps still dont get it.

    The accountants are still looking at squeezing the maximum amount of productivity for the least possible cost. This means making one man do the work for two for the same price.

    What they forget is that after 50 hours you get less and less work and when you approach 60 hours you get negative return.

    Coding is hard and error prone. You will only spend more hours debugging the code then implementing it properly by having sane hours.

    Also productivity does suffer as enough GOOD employees who actually do the work of 2 men because they are tallented quit. THis makes only the bad employees and newbies stay on which lengthens your projects longer.

    Most poor managers know this and jsut ship the products with bugs or look at India.

    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @01:07AM (#15251470) Homepage
      What they forget is that after 50 hours you get less and less work and when you approach 60 hours you get negative return.

      Actually, the curve is a little more complicated, which makes it deceptive.

      The first 60+ hour week you do is fine.
      The second week you do it you'll start to see strain and tear in people's performances.
      The third week people start falling apart and making really dumb mistakes, that other people need to take further time to clean up.
      The forth week your company is full of idiots, if it wasn't already.
      The eighth week, your company is full of zombies. Hardly anything gets done.

      The problem is that a lot of managers look at week 1, and say "We've got to finish this, so let's push ahead!" And with more drain comes less productivity. And with less productivity comes less hitting goals. And with less hitting goals comes the percieved need to work longer. They want week 1 productivity on week 10, and they're just not going to get it.

      Really, the sweet spot is about week 3. There is a burst of creativity and involvement that comes with that first week of crunch, and I recommend having both at least and at most two weeks of crunch every 4 months. But once you get to the end of the first month of crunch... no matter where you are... stop. Go back to 40 for a month. You're going to be late, nothing can help that anymore. Let your team recover, or you're going to get less and less out of them.

      I found a company that takes this philosophy seriously, and it is one of the reasons why our developers stick around for years.
  • by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @08:37PM (#15250441) Journal
    The whole notion about being salaried is that you will not receive overtime pay. If you are an "exempt employee" the notion of overtime means absolutely nothing. People should know this going into jobs and be ready for it. Most jobs I have applied for as an Electrical Engineer make it quite clear that overtime is not given and that you may be required to work 50 or 60 hr weeks.

    Many applications for these same jobs often ask how many hours per week you are willing to work; this is presumably used to weed out people who are totally unwilling to work overtime. My father was a salaried employee for the better part of his 20 yrs with his company and never earned OT. He was gone to work before I ever got up at 6am and wasn't home until 5pm. Did he ever complain about the long hours or lack of OT? Nope. The next thing you know these people will be unionizing (if they haven't tried already), and I will not get into my view on unions. This is absurd. The only reason people ever win these suits is because a group of 12 citizens, most of whom are probably hourly, will be like..."I get OT, don't they?" I wonder how many of these complaints are by people in their first or second jobs. It wouldn't surprise me if it was mostly those.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The whole notion about being salaried is that you will not receive overtime pay. If you are an "exempt employee" the notion of overtime means absolutely nothing.

      See, that's the entire thing though. Both this, and the previous EA lawsuit on the same issue, are about video game companies inaccurately classifying non-exempt employees as exempt employees.

      In other words, it's legal to make a programmer do unpaid overtime, and the lawsuit here is not complaining about that. However, graphical artists do not have
      • Programmers are not exempt either, unless they are direct managers, and spend some of their time actually managing people. Or they make a large enough salary to begin with (which is about 100k+).
        In fact, ONLY managers, supervisors, & execs are truly OT exempt employees. Corporate America sure as hell doesn't want their employees knowing that fact.

        My last company actually changed all of us from salaried to hourly for this very reason. Even though we had no real overtime qualms, they didn't work us lik
        • by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @10:58PM (#15251066) Journal
          To qualify for the learned professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met:

          * The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week
          * The employee's primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment
          * The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning
          * The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

          Straight from the source of US Labor laws. Now some states will have different and varying rules. But that nice broad definition covers almost anyone with a higher degree who is paid on a Salary. This almost certainly covers engineers and computer scientists.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Slavery used to be legal too. I guess that makes it ok?

      People used to get fucked because they didn't have an alternative. We're starting to live a better quality of life and thus can now fight back a bit.

      If your sole purpose in life is to grind away for someone else, it's a pretty shitty life. Let's not force that on people.

      Is there really something wrong with paying someone for the effort they put in? It's not like these companies work you 50 hours one week and then let you fuck off for 10 hours the next a
    • by enrevanche ( 953125 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2006 @11:10PM (#15251119)
      Dammit!, you're absolutley right. These commie weasels should stop their whimpering. As any red-blooded American knows, corporations know what's best and if left too much free time these marxist programmers might try writing some of that damned open source software which is a plot to undermine the stability of Corporate America and western democracy. And unions! Just think how much stronger and more free America and the world would be if those good for nothing unions stayed out the good old U.S. of A! So many trillions down the toilet. Without their interference, the average american family would have at least four cars and a tv in every room. If these tofu eaters think they can get away with that in my country, they're going to get a real rude awakening.
    • by jamesh ( 87723 )
      I thoroughly agree. And really, what is overtime anyway if you are expected to do it all the time?

      Take your salary for the year/month/week/whatever, divide it by the number of hours you worked over that period, and then adjust for superannuation contributions, fringe benefits, leave, public holidays, etc. That's how much you are effectively being payed per hour. If the figure is acceptable to you then stop complaining. If it isn't then discuss it with your boss and go from there. Certainly don't sulk about
    • by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:11AM (#15251336) Homepage
      You're totally missing the issue. The workweek is 40 hours. By law. Unless you happen to fall into certain professions. Software programmers do not. And frankly, 6:00am to 5:00pm is laughable compared to the workweeks I worked in the game industry. Try 8am to midnight. (Or if you prefer, 9am till 1-2 in the morning). Try not having a day off (including weekends) for 6 straight months. There are 168 hours in a week. I've worked 112 of them.

      We're not talking about a little 'wink wink' 'nudge nudge' "overtime" at the end of the project for two months to get it done. We're talking about the kind of hours that cause game industry employees to have a nearly 70% divorce rate. We're talking about 'gee I haven't seen my kids in 4 years' kind of hours. We're talking about crunches for over a year.

      Virtually every project is going to have some kind of push at the end to get all the lose ends tied down. But we're not talking about a little push, we're talking about a jackhammer.
      • Don't like it? Don't do it.

        I don't mean go get an hourly job. Work for a salary, and don't work overtime.

        I have no problem with unpaid overtime. I deal with it by not working overtime. I make exceptions based on my own judgment, not on my manager's.

        What's the worst that can happen? You get fired from your crappy 80 hour / week job? Right, because projects that are chronically behind schedule fire productive people every day.

        It doesn't take laws or lawsuits to solve this problem, it takes some backbone.
    • Its rather sad that you have such a poor belief of your personal rights such that you are willing to agree with a broken system. I mean come on! Just because your father was foolish enough to give more hours then he was paid for, doesn't mean it was the right thing to do. Why don't you just go and give back 1/5th of your salary to your employer while your at it! These people suing for overtime are doing the Just and Right thing. They are owed every penny and then some for the work they have done. Its
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:56AM (#15251445) Homepage
      Most jobs I have applied for as an Electrical Engineer make it quite clear that overtime is not given and that you may be required to work 50 or 60 hr weeks.

      Wow. That's a vacation.

      I interviewed at a place once (I won't name names... Ok, Atari) that had checked with their lawyer to make sure it was OK to require all employees to stay a MINIMUM of 60 hours every week (not including lunch) as a routine part of employment. If you fell under 60 hours, you were fired. Even assuming your father's commute was instantaneous and he never took a lunch, he still would have been fired from Atari for underperforming. And this was minimum... most people were expected to stay longer.

      I was hired on a company once to help finish a project. It was supposed to be a one-month job, but lasted for half of a year. During that time, I never worked less than 60 hours a week, and never saw both days of a weekend. My real average was in the mid 70's. for... six... loooooooooooooooo... oooooooooooooooo... oooooooooooooo... oooooooooooo... oooooooooooooo... ooooooooooooong.... months.

      One of my friends in the industry (whom I actually met on that job) has been crunching for most of the past year. I've only managed to see him once in this entire time, and only then I incidentally bumped into him while driving home.

      And these are independent companies. Big studios are notoriously worse. At least my crunch time ended after 6 months, and my friend's is within a realistic month or two of ending. At a studio like EA or Activision, they shuttle people around as they are needed for projects. And they're needed for projects as crunch time kicks in. Employees / slaves call it "permacrunch" or "crunchopping", the act of being bounced from one paniced 70 hour a week team to another paniced 70 hour a week position permanently for the rest of your life.

      Now remember that you take about a 50% pay cut below market rates to work in the game industry, and some of these companies are highly profitable, and you can see where the dissatisfaction arises.

      I hope we unionize. It was union labors that ensured for example that electrical engineers wouldn't have to abandon their families to work 70 hours a week every week for low pay no healthcare and and zero security.

      And if you don't know how bad it is in the gaming industry... do a little research before you judge us. We're not grocery store clerks that want healthcare, or graduate students lobbying for better pay. We're one of the last great slaveries in the so-called free market. And we deserve to be treated like human beings.
    • by olman ( 127310 )
      Most jobs I have applied for as an Electrical Engineer make it quite clear that overtime is not given and that you may be required to work 50 or 60 hr weeks

      Oh boy. As an EE PCB/EMC/Circuit/system/whatever designer, I have to say that my 40 hours/week job at around $60k/year (Finnish wage in euros so given 1e = $1.22) just started sounding whole a lot more lucrative.

      I get to work sane hours and get enough wage to get by.
    • What the government has said with the new labor laws introduced about 2 years ago it that companies have to too long abused the "salaried" position title, and they have now applied restrictive law to who may be termed "exempt" or "non-exempt." Computer programmers, field engineers, and such (along with plumbers, electricians, and more) have had steadily increasing work weeks with little or no increase in benefit compensation or pay.

      The government is basically saying that a companies unwillingness to invest
  • Quite a few comments read like that famous story from ea_spouse. It is hard believe that people are willing to put up with 60+ hours working weeks for several months a stretch without any kind of compensation.

    I don't mind doing overtime, as long as I am compensated for it. I usually prefer flexitime arrangements where you can save up the overtime hours you've worked and take days off in lieu after the crunch is over.

    Uncompensated overtime is work without getting anything back for it. That concept is not new
  • by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @09:04AM (#15253108)
    ...here's an idea for a flexible regulation:

    Nobody in a company may work more hours per week than either the manager to whom they directly-report. Developers wouldn't be permitted to work longer than their manager, their manager couldn't work longer than their director, their director couldn't work longer than their VP, and their VP couldn't work longer than their President/CEO, etc..

    That way, how hard the company works depends entirely on how hard the top-level management -- which is already paid hundreds of times more than the lower-level employees (and for skills which are not nearly as rare as they would have us believe, nor for performance that is often in any way competent or worthy of the pay). It would ensure that those who are most highly-paid are also the ones working the longest hours.

    It makes sense organizationally too (since virtually-all businesses have a top-down, hierarchical organizational structure -- just like the any socialist government): if there is work to be done, then the people doing the work need to be guided by management (just as if you have a couple threads running in a multithreaded app, you need a thread manager to ensure they play nicely).

    I'm sure some of my libertarian fans will mod me down "-1, Commie". But let's face it: the alternative is what? Contract disputes in court? For over 100 years, contract law hasn't the absolutist teeth that libertarians want to have enforced. Would it work if we did? Maybe -- and it's a nice ideal in any case.

    But such an ideal is not reality, and as the conservative writer Thomas Sowell likes to say, "reality is not optional."
    • Except that of course the top-level management will exploit that horrendously, as will the levels beneath it as needed. President: *after arriving at 10:00am* "Well... time to start another work day. Well... technically I woke up at around 6:00am, so I'll put that that as my 'start' time. After a 3-hour lunch, I'll head home at about 3:00pm, chill at home for a while, and fall asleep at about 10:00. Wooh! Looks like my workday will be another 16 hours long. Guess I'll go pass that down to the VP." *t
      • You're right: I forgot an audit trail of badge-in/badge-out times. Preferably it would be openly-viewable to all employees, but at minimum, it ought to be monitored by an independent auditor to ensure things are on the up-and-up -- just as financial records are (supposed to be) monitored by some reasonably-independent auditing entity.

        Any company of any significant size already has the means of this sort of time-tracking by way of building-access authentication. My employer stores badge-in/out records for
  • The harder you work, the lesser you get paid.

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