Announcing: The International I.T. Workers Union
May 1, 2007 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Today is May 1st, also known as International Workers Day. International Workers Day began when 340,000 in Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities struck for the eight-hour day in 1886. Flash forward to today where for many workers in the I.T. industry, years of 60-hour weeks and taking classes on your own dime to keep up with technology leave you in the unemployment line, after being laid off with no notice. For years, people have been calling for the I.T. Workers of the world to unite and form a unified labor union. I.T. workers should form a union for the same reason that workers have always formed unions: together we have more power to improve the terms and conditions of our employment than we do as individuals. This is an announcement and a call to action to the world-wide IT worker community to become involved in the development of a new resource — The International I.T. Workers Union that will represent the interests of I.T. Workers around the world.
posted by Babylonian (73 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Red flag it and move on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on May 1, 2007


Thanks for that... it'll be interesting to see if this ever comes off.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:09 PM on May 1, 2007


Sorry, working conditions in 1886 were a tad worse than a modern IT worker. When you can post on Metafilter during work, it is slightly different than being locked in a room full of flammable material and performing monotonous and often dangerous work for 10-hours a day.
posted by geoff. at 1:10 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


When's International Idler's Day?
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on May 1, 2007


Workers of the world unite!

I want a red and yellow keyboard and mouse flag.
posted by chunking express at 1:11 PM on May 1, 2007


Every day is International Idler's Day.
posted by taosbat at 1:12 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, working conditions in 1886 were a tad worse than a modern IT worker. When you can post on Metafilter during work, it is slightly different than being locked in a room full of flammable material and performing monotonous and often dangerous work for 10-hours a day.

This is well and good, but not a good reason to not look for more security. Progression is our business, no?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:13 PM on May 1, 2007


Today sure is a lot of Days.
posted by amro at 1:14 PM on May 1, 2007


"IT Workers" is a a really, really, really wide umbrella. Maybe Taiwanese PCB-assembly-line workers could benefit from some collective bargaining, but I'm not sure how much they have in common with an $80k/year contract programmer.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 1:17 PM on May 1, 2007


No, thank you. I can represent myself just fine based on my own skills and knowledge.

I have no need to resort to union thuggery to get a pay raise.
posted by tadellin at 1:17 PM on May 1, 2007


talledin: why do you hate America?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:22 PM on May 1, 2007


"Hi, is this the Pinkerton Agency? I was just wondering if you guys were hiring... yeah, I have my own club... "
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:26 PM on May 1, 2007


Awesome, so instead of being able to fire the 75% of IT workers who are completely incompetent and who add to the workload of the good people we can have them file grievances instead?

Instead of my raises and bonuses for being more productive than my peers I get to get a standardized 3% raise along with everyone else regardless of skillset?

I get standardized vacation time instead of being able to take the time I need off and work remotely when I need an extra week of working vacation or something?

For these privileges I can pay a certain amount of my pay in union dues to a bureaucracy who aren't looking out in my best interests in any way and will just roll over whenever an issue I should be represented in is brought up?

Yeah, this will work really well. They tried this at one of my former employers. Everyone competent absolutely hated the idea; and the only people who really wanted to hop on the union bandwagon were the people generally known to be really incompetent or lazy. The rest of us were content with our vacation time, bonuses and pay raises.
posted by mikesch at 1:27 PM on May 1, 2007


I don't see how an IT worker's union can work. The vast majority of the IT people I've worked with have been some of the most strident right-wingers I've ever met. Of course, this is in Indiana...ymmv
posted by Thorzdad at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2007


Look, son - it's a herd of those people who think that unions are the Great Satan. They're the ones who always trot out the arguments that All Unions Always Force Everyone To Conform To The Lowest Common Denominator. Let's just stand and watch for a while, and see if any of them acknowledge that unions were instrumental in ending abuses like child labor and company stores that charges workers more than they earned for staples they couldn't buy somewhere else. (Don't hold your breath, son.) Maybe one of them will mention overtime pay, or paid vacations, or sick days, or some of the other things they would not have if there had been no unions. Probably not, though, and probably none of them will realize that if the people they work for had their way, all those bennies they're so used to would evaporate like a CEO's verbal promise.

Looks like we're wasting our time, son. It's the same old play.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:43 PM on May 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


"talledin: why do you hate America?"

Burhanistan, why do you hate tadellin?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:46 PM on May 1, 2007


Actually, unions are banding together: Unions Gone Global -- ... The United Steelworkers -- that venerable, Depression-era creation of John L. Lewis and New Deal labor policy -- entered into merger negotiations with two of Britain's largest unions (which are merging with each other next month) to create not only the first transatlantic but the first genuinely multinational trade union. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:48 PM on May 1, 2007


Kirth, need a step down from that horse?

Yes, labor unions have been instrumental in addressing enormous injustices in the workplace for all sorts of people all over the world.

If someone is going to acknowledge all of the (undeniable) good that unions have done, it's only appropriate for you to acknowledge that they are not without significant problems.

Which great injustices are there in I.T. that need a union to address? Furthermore, which of those injustices is so appalling that it's worth taking on the (undeniable) baggage that comes with a union?
posted by DWRoelands at 1:53 PM on May 1, 2007


Unions for industrial workers make sense because the factory owners own the means of production. (Standard Eugene V. Debs socialism and--you heard fuller say it here--entirely correct in that instance) Among computer workers, however, the owners can't monopolize the means of production so the socialist argument is irrelevant and there's nothing for unions to do but protect the incompetent.

Consider what the NEA has done and is doing to the teaching profession (not to mention the schools, and the students) while you're deciding whether unionization is a good thing for knowledge workers.


> unions were instrumental in ending abuses like child labor and company stores

Yes, yes, and Christians were instrumental in ending slavery. Shall we remain unionized and Christian forever, because those groups did some good stuff back in the day?
posted by jfuller at 1:53 PM on May 1, 2007


I have no need to resort to union thuggery to get a pay raise.

What is this union thuggery that you speak of, and how does it apply to IITWU?
posted by Anything at 1:55 PM on May 1, 2007


What is this union thuggery that you speak of, and how does it apply to IITWU?

You don't want to know what those jackbooted thugs can do to you with your keyboard. They'll torture your mice in their spare time and threaten hard drives with seven-pass wipes. They make the Russian mafia look like Mother Teresa.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on May 1, 2007


Consider what the NEA has done and is doing to the teaching profession (not to mention the schools, and the students) while you're deciding whether unionization is a good thing for knowledge workers.
So it's the teachers that have been cutting funding and allowing infrastructure to crumble while pushing for vouchers to private schools! Damn them to hell!
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on May 1, 2007


You know, I'm a fan of unions in many instances. As an IT worker, this is not one of them -- specifically because it is painfully easy to replace unionized workers with scabs, because you have a worldwide pool of scabs from which to draw, not just people living in your local area. Without pressure from unionized workers living in your town, there's no incentive to avoid being a scab.
posted by davejay at 2:05 PM on May 1, 2007


Unless I'm following the wrong trail, the guy who owns the IITWU site, Nicholas Merrill, is actually president of his own ISP/web hosting company, Calyx, here in New York.

Anyone know if his employees have unionized? Genuinely curious.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:05 PM on May 1, 2007


> What is this union thuggery

Strawberry milkshakes in the punch card readers. And they don't toilet-paper your trees, they 9-track tape 'em.
posted by jfuller at 2:06 PM on May 1, 2007


Let's just stand and watch for a while, and see if any of them acknowledge that unions were instrumental in ending abuses like child labor and company stores that charges workers more than they earned for staples they couldn't buy somewhere else. (Don't hold your breath, son.)

I don't doubt that at all. I recognize what the early unions did to aid the workers of the US. I also support them (in theory*) for workers who are essentially human machinery. An assembly line moves at the same pace as the slowest person working on it; there's not much chance for a worker to differentiate himself. IT is a different animal and the productivity difference between an OK programmer and a really good programmer is exponential. The same holds true for system administrators. I don't see how a blanket organization can cover the interests of all the parties they're supposed to be "representing."

*I support them in ending unsafe, unethical working conditions. My problem with the way they're implemented is evidenced by baseball union strikes, grocery union strikes, and unions working to force employers to give drug addicted employees their jobs back and pay for their treatment. Something's wrong when a construction worker can file a grievance because his project manager jumped in a truck and moved it 20 feet to clear the way for a backhoe. (true story, the worker got a few hundred out of it that he didn't earn.)
posted by mikesch at 2:13 PM on May 1, 2007


Look, son - it's a herd of those people who think that unions are the Great Satan. They're the ones who always trot out the arguments that All Unions Always Force Everyone To Conform To The Lowest Common Denominator.

Gee, Dad, I think you're in the wrong thread.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:20 PM on May 1, 2007


Shall we remain unionized and Christian forever, because those groups did some good stuff back in the day?

Excellent point. Banish the unions at once, because we're no longer back in the day. No way could progress ever go backwards. Pay will never drop. Time at work won't ever increase. Benefits will only increase. Now that management has seen the light, everybody's pay will go up when the company does well - not just management's. How could I have been so stupid that I couldn't see that?

Forget unions - who will think of the powerful?

You know, I'm a fan of unions in many instances. As an IT worker, this is not one of them --specifically because it is painfully easy to replace unionized workers with scabs, because you have a worldwide pool of scabs from which to draw, not just people living in your local area.

So a non-union job is more secure than a union job? A replacement worker is a replacement worker. Your job status has no bearing on that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:21 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


If nothing else some kind of union (these don't have to be modeled after the Teamsters for chrissakes) will help standardize salary ranges and job descriptions for IT positions. I've seen some smaller companies, that are not cash strapped, just make up their own position and pay what they feel like with not bothering to check market value. That's their right, of course, but some criteria is useful.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:27 PM on May 1, 2007


It wasn't just Joe Hill who never died; Mr Block is hanging on in there too, I see.
posted by Abiezer at 2:36 PM on May 1, 2007


FWIW, in my first job out of college, when I was learning programming on a dumb terminal and all that cool 1980's stuff, I was a member of and represented by the OPEIU: "the first and largest labor union in the United States and Canada dedicated to professional, technical and office workers. "
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:45 PM on May 1, 2007


At Microsoft, individual "permatemps" asked their agencies for several years for better medical plans and greater employer co-pays. Those requests always fell on deaf ears - until they began organizing.

A union can do more than just collective bargaining for pay or benefits. It can lobby governments for changes in the law which give I.T. workers fewer protections than other types of workers, it can provide training, it can give legal advice and aid, etc.
posted by Babylonian at 2:57 PM on May 1, 2007


> So a non-union job is more secure than a union job?

Not impossible, is it? If I, filled with optimism and cupidity, was doing a web2.0 startup and I found I had coders who weren't so hot, I'd be tempted to fire just those and keep the better ones. But if my shop unionized and I couldn't fire even the featherbedders, I'd then be tempted to walk away from the whole enterprise and start over with contract coders in Bangalore.
posted by jfuller at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2007


> So a non-union job is more secure than a union job?

Not impossible, is it? If I, filled with optimism and cupidity, was doing a web2.0 startup and I found I had coders who weren't so hot, I'd be tempted to fire just those and keep the better ones. But if my shop unionized and I couldn't fire even the featherbedders, I'd then be tempted to walk away from the whole enterprise and start over with contract coders in Bangalore.


But is that the kind of job security you really want? I mean, you can get some amount of military security by surrounding yourself in nuclear weapons, but ... oh wait, nevermind.
posted by scottreynen at 3:06 PM on May 1, 2007


Not impossible, is it? If I, filled with optimism and cupidity, was doing a web2.0 startup and I found I had coders who weren't so hot, I'd be tempted to fire just those and keep the better ones. But if my shop unionized and I couldn't fire even the featherbedders, I'd then be tempted to walk away from the whole enterprise and start over with contract coders in Bangalore.

Not impossible, but improbable. It takes all kinds of employees to make a good company. No good company consists of only superstars.

If you closed down shop and contracted with Indians, you'd probably be making the same mistake American companies make every day: You are forgetting all the "invisible" costs. By the time you close up shop, pay severance, spend your time finding contract workers, train them, and get them up to speed, you've probably saved little (if any) money -and lost a whole lot of time and productivity.

Tortoises and hares, my friend.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:11 PM on May 1, 2007


mikesch:

IT is a different animal and the productivity difference between an OK programmer and a really good programmer is exponential. The same holds true for system administrators. I don't see how a blanket organization can cover the interests of all the parties they're supposed to be "representing."

That's inaccurate, and it is becoming more inaccurate as time goes on. The overarching tendency is for skilled work to become de-skilled over time, and IT work is no exception. Programming (my line of work), for instance, has generally been modularized and broken down to where individual tasks are routine, though results may vary; this is no more or less than what my friends who are union carpenters do with different levels of strength, speed, and mathematical skill. And they make a good deal more than I do.

The whole idea that unions are outdated is idiotic and backward. Shit in this country is getting worse. Job security and pay rates are going down, and the amount of hours and productivity (read: more work in the same time) are going up. All the things that the unions won are being slowly and deliberately eroded. It's a tragedy, but if workers forget the old lessons – an injury to one is an injury to all – we'll be forced to learn them all over again.
posted by graymouser at 3:16 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


But if my shop unionized and I couldn't fire even the featherbedders...
Well, that's utter bullshit and a complete misunderstanding of how a union works. You most certainly can get slackers fired. Yeah, there's a process to go through, but so what? The process assures everyone is protected. Your assertion that you couldn't get rid of them is as fucking false as WMDs.

You think unions today actually want to protect slackers? This isn't the 50s and 60s. There's probably more deadweight being sheltered on the executive levels these days than on the workfloor.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:21 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


So it's the teachers that have been cutting funding and allowing infrastructure to crumble while pushing for vouchers to private schools! Damn them to hell!

Heh. Yep. Got nothing to do with incompetent or even dangerous teachers maintaining their jobs and getting rewarded for seniority.
posted by chlorus at 3:26 PM on May 1, 2007


Sorry, working conditions in 1886 were a tad worse than a modern IT worker. When you can post on Metafilter during work, it is slightly different than being locked in a room full of flammable material and performing monotonous and often dangerous work for 10-hours a day.

By this logic, there's no need to look for a cure for AIDS now that penicillin cures pneumonia.
posted by DU at 3:28 PM on May 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


"I have no need to resort to union thuggery to get a pay raise."

Collective bargaining isn't necessarily union thuggery.

The idea of many people, working in unison, having more power that the same people working unorganized is an old one, and a good one.

The the corporations themselves can "unionize" and employ the same lobbyists to buy off the same politicians, why is it so evil that the working man and woman unite to protect their share of the pie?
posted by rougy at 3:44 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


So a non-union job is more secure than a union job?

It certainly can be. My father - a union man - found that out the hard way. He was in the US Merchant Marine, which for all intents and purposes no longer exists. Merchant shipping has all been outsourced - Liberian flags, crews from all over the world, etc.

The whole idea that unions are outdated is idiotic and backward.

The idea that all labor is fit for unionization isn't an improvement on that.

Shit in this country is getting worse.

For IT workers? You've got to be kidding! IT is one of the few areas where you can be successful without higher education (or frankly any measurable qualifications), you can change career paths easily if you choose, and you can easily move from labor to management (and back again!) repeatedly in your career. We're not slaving in the mines here.

Frankly, I'm surprised that you were able to escape the overseer's lash long enough to post on Metafilter.

Well, that's utter bullshit and a complete misunderstanding of how a union works.

If you think that it's no harder to fire unionized workers for incompetence than non-unionized workers, you're the one with the misunderstanding.

By this logic, there's no need to look for a cure for AIDS now that penicillin cures pneumonia.

That is the worst analogy I've seen in some time.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2007


The International I.T. Workers Union that will represent the interests of I.T. Workers around the world.

Great - I'm glad they'll finally have someone who will step for the collective and demand more internet porn, MMORPG, and Cool Ranch Doritos.

Seriously though, good luck with that. India and China will appreciate having more of your jobs.
posted by Muddler at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2007


> You most certainly can get slackers fired. Yeah, there's a process to go through, but so what?

Oah yass, some little "process." As described by an unimpeachably lefty source:

Juliet Ellery is the Willie Horton of bad teachers—an extreme exception used to tarnish an entire institution, yet a mark of the system's imperfections just the same. As a veteran high school teacher in the Grossmont Union School District near San Diego in the early 1980s, Ellery refused to answer students' questions, assigned baffling work, and belittled her students. Parents complained and students transferred out of her class. "I had never seen a teacher that bad and the thing that was most damning about her was the complete unwillingness to accept any reason to change," Arthur Pegas, the principal who evaluated Ellery, told the Sacramento Bee. Yet it still took four years for the district to gather what it considered to be sufficient grounds for dismissal. Then, despite the overwhelming evidence against her, Ellery chose to fight her termination, even trying unsuccessfully to get the Supreme Court to hear her case. By the end of the protracted legal battle, which took eight years and cost the school district $300,000 in legal fees, Ellery still refused to admit to any wrongdoing, though she was in fact terminated and she did leave the district. In addition, her license was suspended in 1994—for one year.

posted by jfuller at 3:48 PM on May 1, 2007


rougy, nobody objects to collective bargaining, or even striking, when it is tempered by the employer's right to fire any employees who take it too far. It becomes objectionable when the employers are forced to continue paying workers who aren't working.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:50 PM on May 1, 2007


jfuller - what does what the teachers union did have to do with this new effort?

the way you're trying to use guilt by association seems like a logical fallacy
posted by Babylonian at 3:52 PM on May 1, 2007


what does what the teachers union did have to do with this new effort? the way you're trying to use guilt by association seems like a logical fallacy

How is it a logical fallacy to suggest that an IT union might make it harder to fire incompetent employees, by pointing out examples of unions making it harder to fire incompetent employees?

The shaky grasp of logic demonstrated in this thread is enough to make me fear for the IT industry!
posted by me & my monkey at 4:09 PM on May 1, 2007


The anti-union bias is predictable and planned. The union system has been systematically attacked and the NLRB has been effectively emasculated. Workers have lost their seat at the national table, and they are just beginning to pay for that. It will get worse.

Unions are not bad because they don't exist in a vacuum. They have a symbiotic relationship with management; but it only works when they can come to the table as equals. If necessary, the government acts in good faith as an arbitrator. Unions push for worker's advancement and management pushes for the status quo - but at the end of the day, the books have to balance. If the company is not viable, everyone loses.

Collective bargaining is a human right. It is the only sane, humane and nonviolent way to fight power. The powerful have never liked it - reason enough for me to know that it's right.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:13 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


If necessary, the government acts in good faith as an arbitrator.

Not in decades. The government hates the unions- the Republicans do so openly, the Democrats implicitly, by acting as if they are entitled to Labour's votes while cuddling up to the bosses on the other side.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:28 PM on May 1, 2007


[image]
posted by taosbat at 5:08 PM on May 1, 2007


[Unions] have a symbiotic relationship with management; but it only works when they can come to the table as equals.

That's the thing, I think most IT professionals are already coming to the table as equals without a union. The job opportunities for IT professionals are so plentiful that we can generally walk away from negotiations just as easily as our employers.

Collective bargaining is a human right. It is the only sane, humane and nonviolent way to fight power.

I don't see anyone arguing here against the right of IT workers to unionize. It's just not clear why we would choose to exercise that right. I feel like my saying "give me what I want or I'll quit and find an employer who will" is a perfectly sane, humane and nonviolent way to negotiate with my employer.
posted by scottreynen at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2007


The overarching tendency is for skilled work to become de-skilled over time, and IT work is no exception. Programming (my line of work), for instance, has generally been modularized and broken down to where individual tasks are routine, though results may vary;

Why not train and apply for the modularize and break down job, then? It's still an IT job, only higher up the value chain.

Organization is always a legitimate tactic. But sometimes people struggle to keep work, find work, or get promoted because they actually suck at the job they would prefer to do, and not because of some conspiratorial class warfare.
posted by FreedomTickler at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2007


The job opportunities for IT professionals are so plentiful that we can generally walk away from negotiations just as easily as our employers.

The key here is the word professionals. Not everyone in the IT industry is some hot-shot programmer, able to call the shots and "negotiate" with their employers. When I hear "IT", I think of the ranks of call center workers and so forth. And I know a pile of them. The examples I present are from Australia, but hey, this post is about the International IT Workers Union.

One person hasn't had their compulsory superannuation paid for over a year now, and their employers keep fobbing them off. And it appears a swag of other workers at the same company are being treated the same way.

Another person, despite giving 4 months notice, was refused a day off on the day of their sister's wedding.

These hardly sound like people with the power to negotiate with their employers and walk away from deals - if they had other options, they would take them.
posted by Jimbob at 6:10 PM on May 1, 2007


You know, I'm a fan of unions in many instances. As an IT worker, this is not one of them -- specifically because it is painfully easy to replace unionized workers with scabs, because you have a worldwide pool of scabs from which to draw, not just people living in your local area. Without pressure from unionized workers living in your town, there's no incentive to avoid being a scab.
posted by davejay


That is why this union will fail. I grew up in a union town and saw the pluses and minuses of unions. Their abuses brought down the system and now the folks who really need them, like Walmart workers, have a Sysiphusian struggle to get unionized. Walmart is currently on the ropes from a corporate standpoint and there is no better time for the pro-union forces to unite to unionize Walmart. Even if they fail, they will help make conditions better for the Walmart workers. Walmart has already made some benefits changes etc. to stave off the unions. If the workers get what they need via the company's fear of the union then that is almost as good (probably better in the short term, but you lack the lasting payoff of unionization). Anyway, an IT union won't work.
posted by caddis at 6:18 PM on May 1, 2007


There also seems to be an attitude here that people only get fired because they're incompetent. "I'm a great worker so I'm safe, all the people who are crap at their jobs deserve to get fired!". It's not that simple; some people get fired because their kid is sick, and maybe they took one too many mornings off to take her to the doctor. Some people get fired because of a personality clash with an incompetent manager. Lots of people get laid off because of poor management decisions. Thats why there needs to be some fair protection for workers.
posted by Jimbob at 6:25 PM on May 1, 2007


Why would you want to continue to work for a firm with poor management anyway? Under any of those circumstances, what's wrong with finding another job? Why do people insist on imposing some paternalistic relationship on their employers? If your work has value, find a buyer!
posted by FreedomTickler at 6:36 PM on May 1, 2007


It's "Labor Day" in all of Europe. Sorry if I repeated, but I got bored of reading the entire thread.
posted by WaterSprite at 6:40 PM on May 1, 2007


The International Workers of the World used to be known as the "Wobblies".

I propose that we refer to this new incarnation, of International IT Workers, as Webblies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:13 PM on May 1, 2007


Not everyone in the IT industry is some hot-shot programmer, able to call the shots and "negotiate" with their employers.

The ones who are, however, have no incentive to tie their success to the rest. Organizing a union around the relatively nebulous idea of "IT" strikes me as a mistake, because of this.

There also seems to be an attitude here that people only get fired because they're incompetent. ... Lots of people get laid off because of poor management decisions.

I don't think so. However, unions make it harder to fire those who are incompetent, and can't really protect their members from poor management decisions anyway.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:05 PM on May 1, 2007


Why do people insist on imposing some paternalistic relationship on their employers?

Because picking up and leaving is a lot harder when you have a family to raise. It's hard on your SO, it's damned hard on your kids.

Or your job doesn't pay much, and you can't move to Boston or NYC without an accordingly higher salary which you know isn't coming because Bush's cabinet-level administrator in the FTC encourages unfettered mergers and globalism (i.e. moving jobs overseas) at the expense of taxpayers.

Or you feel that you're a better worker, that you are a valued human being, when the organization you work for has some stake, however minor, in your well-being, and in the well-being of your family.

There's self-interest in capitalism, no doubt. But anyone who loves their work knows that it isn't all about self-interest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:08 PM on May 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't think so.

Well, for what it's worth, you're not correct, anyway. Sunbeam is a classic textbook example of how to run a company in the ground through massive layoffs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:10 PM on May 1, 2007


Bravo, Mr. Pileon.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:20 PM on May 1, 2007


Or you feel that you're a better worker, that you are a valued human being, when the organization you work for has some stake, however minor, in your well-being, and in the well-being of your family.

All the more reason to leave an employer who does not treat you respectfully. Whining about your treatment at the hands of an employer is giving away too much of your own power. If you don't behave like a servant, then you won't be treated like one. I would never, ever let an employer gain the upper hand over me.
posted by FreedomTickler at 9:24 PM on May 1, 2007


Jimbob, I don't know exactly what's going on with your friends super, but they really shouldn't be trying to deal with it themselves - the ATO is responsible for super and has a process for collecting from employers if necessary. They can call the Australian Taxation Office Superannuation Helpline on 131 020.

(sorry if they have already followed this process)
posted by jacalata at 10:32 PM on May 1, 2007


jacalata; long story short, they've contacted the ATO, who said "Yeah we are aware of this, we're looking into it."... a year ago. I keep telling them to get the lawyers onto it, but unfortunately, that costs money they don't have.
posted by Jimbob at 10:34 PM on May 1, 2007


When's International Idler's Day?
I have no need to resort to union thuggery to get a pay raise.
Shall we remain unionized and Christian forever, because those groups did some good stuff back in the day?
But if my shop unionized and I couldn't fire even the featherbedders
what's wrong with finding another job?
unions make it harder to fire those who are incompetent


Ronald Reagan has done his job well. I hope you enjoyed the kool ade.
posted by caddis at 4:08 AM on May 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lots of people get laid off because of poor management decisions.

me & my monkey wrote:
I don't think so.

I am astounded that someone could make that statement. I have to think the person who doubts that poor management is common is a young person, with little work experience. I was laid off several times because the management of the company had made bad decisions, or had a bad business plan. In most cases, my immediate boss said something along the lines of, "It has nothing to do with your work, which is fine. I wish I could keep you." Bad management that I have seen resulting in layoffs included:
*Overestimating the company's growth and investing in larger buildings that sucked down so much of the revenue stream that the company had to chop expenses somewhere. In today's MBA-laden business world, that usually means layoffs of a bunch of non-management people. This happened several times.
*Failure to diversify, so when a profitable niche market went to a competitor, the company had no revenue at all. Result: massive shrinkage of the company accomplished by rounds of layoffs, and a lingering death of the company.
*Falsely representing the progress of a start-up to VCs, by stating that the product was "in production" when it was really still in development. This led to shipping unreliable, not-ready units to customers, which poisoned the market for the company. Result: several rounds of layoffs, followed by a buyout by one of the customers, and eventual liquidation.
*Outright corruption. It's more common than you think for top management to skim huge amounts of money illegally, or to make illegal arrangements of one sort or another. Example. Example. Example. Example. Example. (Note that none of those is WorldCom, or Tyco, or Enron.)

The vast majority of new businesses fail. That's not because of unions.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:06 AM on May 2, 2007


My first example link doesn't work; this is a different story about the same bunch.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:31 AM on May 2, 2007


I am astounded that someone could make that statement.

OK, I really screwed the pooch with that. That's not what I meant at all. I meant that in response to this:

"There also seems to be an attitude here that people only get fired because they're incompetent."

Trust me when I say this, I am intimately aware of the abundance of poor management decisions. I don't think that unions provide much protection from those decisions. I'm generally in favor of unions, but don't think that IT workers would benefit from unions as much as registered tradesmen, etc.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:06 AM on May 2, 2007


Same old, same old.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:22 AM on May 2, 2007


It's odd that so many are Indispensable Superstars at work, able to leap from one fulfilling position to another at a moment's notice.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:06 AM on May 2, 2007


It's odd that so many are Indispensable Superstars at work, able to leap from one fulfilling position to another at a moment's notice.

It's not a matter of being an "indispensable superstar." Do you honestly think that, overall, IT workers don't have more job flexibility than most other white-collar workers? In many cases, IT workers don't require specific degrees or certifications, and can move from one field within IT to another relatively easily.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:48 AM on May 2, 2007


Honestly? Yes, I honestly believe you're mistaken about those things. I think it's possible that you have a circle of young, mostly-single IT-job friends, and that you're projecting that circle's circumstances onto the industry as a whole. Admittedly, I have no knowledge of your circle, nor any data that refutes your view. I do have my own experience and observations, which don't jibe with what you're saying.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:15 PM on May 2, 2007


I think it's possible that you have a circle of young, mostly-single IT-job friends, and that you're projecting that circle's circumstances onto the industry as a whole.

My circle is 40+ married IT job friends, and I've been an IT worker for about fifteen years. As a trainer and consultant, I've met, literally, thousands of IT workers; very often, they've been in the process of changing from one field within IT to another at the point I met them - DBA to developer, for example.

While I realize that your own experience might well be different, I stand by my assertion that there is more fluidity within IT than within other white collar professions. Accountants, lawyers, etc, require certification, education, etc. Very often, IT workers do not - there's a lot of "on-the-job" training in the IT world, and a lack of formal standards compared to other professions. That has its drawbacks for the IT profession, certainly, but it also has its advantages.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2007


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