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Law Firm Fighting For White Collar (IT) Overtime 573

Posted by Zonk
from the they-work-a-bit-too-hard-as-it-is dept.
Maximum Prophet writes "Programmers and System Administrators typically don't get overtime. A law firm based in Nevada is looking to stand up for white-collar workers around the country, trying to reverse decades-old (and incorrect) thinking about what it means to work in an office. 'Computer workers of various stripes, for example, have commonly not been paid for their extra hours ... But under California law, the exemption applies only for workers whose primary function involves "the exercise of discretion and independent judgment." In numerous lawsuits, Thierman and other plaintiffs' attorneys have alleged that legions of systems engineers, help desk staff, and customer service personnel do no such thing. Of programmers, Thierman says, "Yes, they get to pick whatever code they want to write, but they don't tell you what the program does ... All they do is implement someone else's desires.'"
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Law Firm Fighting For White Collar (IT) Overtime

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  • Total compensation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:30AM (#20742149) Homepage
    Overtime is one of those things both the company and the employee has to consider when taking a job and the salary is based around those terms.

    If companies suddenly had to start paying overtime, salaries would have to be adjusted.

    Personally, I'd prefer to stick with the deal I have.
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#20742289)
      Thank you! Someone who gets it. TANSTAAFL. When the company hires you as salaried, that time you're 'giving' them is factored into the pay. If they had to pay hourly beyond it, you wouldn't get as much in the first place.

      The company I work for thinks I put in a lot more overtime than I do because I'm so productive. I do put in -some-, but not nearly as much as they think. The deal works out great for both sides. If this law goes through, I'll get a huge paycut (or fired, and someone else hired) and no overtime as well. I'll just lose money no matter how it goes.

      Of course, I'll have more free time... But not a lot more.
      • by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:01AM (#20742607)
        When the company hires you as salaried, that time you're 'giving' them is factored into the pay.

        Bullshit. Only one company I ever interviewed for told me up front that overtime was common. I didn't even bother to go back for a second interview. Most companies tell you 40 hrs, but then expect more, and more and more.

        If they had to pay hourly beyond it, you wouldn't get as much in the first place.

        What nonsense is this? They'd either hire someone else, or adjust to more realistic timelines. If the company is constantly giving you 60+ hours of work. I've been lucky to have all my employers pay me the rate I want and still not expect more than 40 hours.

        The company I work for thinks I put in a lot more overtime than I do because I'm so productive. I do put in -some-, but not nearly as much as they think. The deal works out great for both sides. If this law goes through, I'll get a huge paycut (or fired, and someone else hired) and no overtime as well. I'll just lose money no matter how it goes.

        That's your own fault; you're letting them think you're less productive than you really are. You need to fix that.

        That said, this would be a great idea if they also tarrified outsourced labor. If they don't, it will only drive companys more to China.
        • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:19AM (#20742851)
          Most companies tell you 40 hrs, but then expect more, and more and more.

          I've had a pretty similar experience. When I was interviewing for my last job, one of the company's managers explicitly told me that there would be about two weeks a year of 'crunch time' in which everyone would work longer hours, but otherwise it would be a 40 hour week. They offered me a salary that I considered fair for that amount of overtime, and I took it. Flash forward to actually being on the job and finding out that working a few hours of overtime every Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday was expected, and a full day+ every other Saturday and Sunday was mandatory.

          Of course, that being said, I didn't need lawyers to straighten that out for me; I just found a better job ASAP, as did nearly all of the more skilled people who were given a similar bait and switch by that company. Market forces can't fix everything, but in this case it worked out all right. (My exit interview included the same manager, who flat out denied his earlier fradulent claim, although he'd made it to many of us. Weaselly jackass.)

          Anyway, the point being, the 'You agreed to the contract!' sentiment I'm seeing in some of the posts on this article is something I can only agree with if overtime was presented accurately during the interviewing process. I've rarely seen a company that does.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by esaul (686848)
          I would have to agree with the parent here. Not sure how it works in the states, but in Canada such laws are already in place (not that they are working well), and many IT companies routinely pay overtime. In Quebec, for example, we have a government agency - La Commission des normes du travail, whose job is to educate employees about their rights, and catch companies that mistreat their workers. Indeed, the whole reason why the 40/hr weeks were set as a standard is to prevent the potential abuse coming fro
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Contract worker or not, when one has been employed by a company for more than 3 months (maybe 4, I forget), they become eligible for all of the standard employee benefits including sick days, overtime pay, etc. see here [gouv.qc.ca]."

            I for one hope they NEVER pass something like that here in the US. Why contract if that is what will happen to you? I figure my bill rates to cover myself for insurance, investments/retirement, vacation and sick time. I'll do perfectly well doing it myself, and would hate to

    • Overtime is one of those things both the company and the employee has to consider when taking a job and the salary is based around those terms.

      I agree that if you are offered a salary, then that's it. The job is estimated at a standard work week, you work until the job is done, and you can only expect a certain constant paycheck in return. If you have to work longer hours, suck it up, that's part of being a professional.

      I also think that if the staff are hired as "contractors" for per-hour fees that are above the usual salary pay ladder, then that per-hour fee can't go into the stratosphere if the contractor works more than the standard work

    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:03AM (#20742627) Homepage
      If companies suddenly had to start paying overtime, salaries would have to be adjusted.

      The ethical thing to do would be to adjust executive salaries down and let everyone else's stay the same. Not going to happen, but I hope everyone realizes that this is a result of institutionalized greed, not a case of not enough money going around.

      Go back to the 1950's and the difference between the CEO and the janitor's salary was a hell of a lot smaller.
      • by dwarfking (95773) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:06AM (#20743617) Homepage

        Something many of the folks don't like to admit on /. is that most of the executives at successful companies put in as many if not more hours than the average worker.

        In every successful company I have been employed, the executives almost always were the first ones in in the mornings and the last ones out. They regularly had weekend meetings and multi-day off site meetings, where yes they actually worked. I know because I'm in that tier now and attend these. Granted there is higher compensation at this level, but most of them worked their way to where they are today by being driven and putting in the extra time.

        Now before you go flaming me with anecdotes about how so many executives are clueless and got their positions by being family or friends, note that I am referring to what I consider successful companies. I have also seen companies that failed because of the true clueless executive who worked bankers hours and spent most time on the golf course. Those are not the ones I'm referring to.

        And interestingly enough, you have average workers that are also not as driven, who seem to regularly complain when others move up and they don't. The question you have to ask yourself is do you feel like working hard either independently or to lift the company as a whole, thus helping yourself, or do you just want a paycheck and nights and weekends free. You can have either, even in technology, but they require different sacrifices and lead to different lifestyles.

        If you are working for an organization that regularly expects you to work nights and weekends, look at what the executives are doing. Are they working long hours too? If so, your company may be at one of the various growth points companies hit that take major efforts to break through.

        Usually they aren't making quite enough money to afford hiring more staff, but they have the potential for more revenue that will then kick them into the next level where they can grow, but to get there they have to work current staff harder. Those layers vary, but I've seen they generally hit at the $100mm, $1b, $10b and $25b marks. Hopefully when they break the barrier and now get into a new growth spurt, there are new opportunities for the hard workers, higher salaries and potentially bonuses.

        However, if the execs aren't putting in heavy hours but expecting you too, then they may just be looking for a quick payout and are keeping labor costs down by not hiring additional staff. That is when you need to start looking.

        And I know some folks will say that even working hard, the executives may still be looking for a payout. If the company does breach one of the barrier's they are often a more appealing target for a buyout or merger, which could impact you. Keep in mind, however, very few driven executives actually retire after these events. They tend to go on to a new endeavor and when they realize they need help, they remember names of folks that were hard workers.

        Speaking very generally, these value barriers also coincide with the skillset of the executives. You have those great at creating ideas and founding companies, who are just horrible at running large businesses. You have those who are great with Wall Street and large organizations who can't start a business. Same as tech skill levels. So what often happens is the early visionaries or founders, if they are smart, relinquish control to others more qualified and then move on. And it is these folks that might call you to join their newest idea.

        • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:03AM (#20744513) Homepage
          Something many of the folks don't like to admit on /. is that most of the executives at successful companies put in as many if not more hours than the average worker.

          But I didn't imply otherwise. My point isn't that executives don't deserve to be well-compensated, or that they don't put in the hours their subordinates do, but rather that the level of compensation has reached ridiculous levels.

          How much should the CEO of a Fortune 500 company make? It's a difficult job. Not everyone can do it.

          I think a fair salary for the CEO of a successful corporation should be several million. Let's be nice and generous, and say $10 million a year, with incentive bonuses. I think that adequately compensates someone who's working 80 hours a week.

          But $20 million a year? $30 million a year? Do you really think anyone is worth that? Especially in companies who refuse to pay overtime, or fire people to reduce payroll?

          This incredible disparity in salaries is new, a result of spineless directors and grasping executives. It's not necessary; the jobs are hard but not impossible, and for every CEO who makes $30 million a year, I guarantee you there are plenty of equally qualified people who would be content with a third of that.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            You know what fair pay is for an executive? $10 million in stock. Match that share-for-share--if the stock doubles in value, they get $20 million. If the stock tanks, they might only get $5 million. Pay dividends and the incentive bonuses take care of themselves. If you don't have a personal stake in the company, they shouldn't be making the calls.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by E++99 (880734)
            $10 million is okay, but $20 million is not? Based on what? The idea that there are "plenty of equally qualified people who would be content with a third of that" misses the point of a job with that level of responsibility. They people they are trying to attract are people for whom there IS no substitute. It's like professional athletes. If you lose your superstar ballplayer, there's not necessarily a replacement available in the workforce.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by no_pets (881013)
      Hopefully you have a fair/good deal with your employer regarding salary and working conditions. Perhaps your employer is not out to exploit you. That is great.

      The example that TFA mentions (non-IT example) is that of a store manager at Starbucks. That person has a salary and most would agree the position to be exempt. But, if that employee is spending a good chunk of time making lattes just like the baristas that do get overtime then the store manager should not be exempt as the position is basically a g
  • If you agreed to the contract you really dont have a right to bitch about it, in my experience there are just as many who pay overtime as there are that dont. My contract actually gives me time and a half for working overtime/weekends though I dont take advantage of it as much as I could. The only person in my department who gets no overtime is my manager, who at a 130 grand salary, and with nearly a months worth of vacation, I dont think he really gives a rats ass.
    • "If you agreed to the contract you really dont have a right to bitch about it,"

      Not necessarily. Many contracts have been thrown out by courts after it was determined that the bargaining power was so one-sided that the other side really had no say and was forced to sign. This also applies to cases where the signing party was unaware of what he/she was signing and was somehow coerced into signing. They'll probably use an argument along these lines.
  • FairPay Act of 2004 (Score:5, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:31AM (#20742159) Homepage Journal
    It sounds like they are only doing this in California, which has ad the IT exemption for decades. For the rest of the country, IT workers were getting overtime until the so-called Fair Pay Act of 2004, which exempts IT workers (and other fields as well) from overtime, in exchange for guaranteeing overtime pay for anyone making less than about $23,000 a year. Of course, there are no IT workers making such a low wage (except in India), so that means all IT workers became affected.

    I, myself was getting overtime pay until 2005.
    • by neverest (1154455) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:54AM (#20742513)
      In New York, HR came to IT and requested job descriptions of all the IT employees; which would ultimately decide who was and was not exempt from Overtime due to the Fairpay Act. IT Mgmt complied, and must not have been told the reasons for the request, because after which 85% of IT employees, HR deemed eligible for Overtime. Not only that, we were eligible for retroactive Overtime for time work since Jan. This was in April. I earned Overtime for a full year at Sys Admin hours, all the time knowing this was never going to last. At my next review, Mgmt gave me glowing reviews and "promoted" me. They gave me a new title, which then exempt me from Overtime pay - however my job duties and hours remained the same. My base salary increased by 3%, which is standard at my company. No matter what the law says and how it is written, Mgmt will always find ways around it. But you knew that going in. No one ever went into IT for the long lunches and 35 hour work weeks. Oh, and just to put this in perspective, my brother-in-law served in the US NAVY for 12 years, has held many jobs outside of the military, has multiple degrees in engineering, currently flies passenger jets for an international airline...and he makes less than I do. For what we do, it's not that bad pay.
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#20742789)
      Patriot act - unpatriotic
      Clear skies act - no controls on pollution
      No child left behind - everyone is left behind
      FairPay act - no more overtime pay

      Hmm. I would swear I can almost notice a pattern here!
  • by scubamage (727538) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:33AM (#20742185)
    Ok, I'm a salaried network admin/systems technician. When I applied for my job as a systems tech, I was assured it would be an 8-5 job. Well, about 2 weeks in I am asked to handle a week of after hours calls. This is fine, except my company is in the Medical/PACS industry. If radiologists can't get their images, people could die. Some nights I will get 10+ calls. Do I get comped? No. Do I get anything for this? No. I applied to build servers and be a backup for fielding calls and was assured a certain set of hours. I did my time on helpdesk and would like to think I'd finally graduated past it. I would just like to see some sort of gratuity from the company for me having to literally go 2-3 days without sleep sometimes because of late night calls. Its bad enough when I work from 8 until 10 at night, but then to get calls most of the night after, I think I deserve something.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#20742291)
      Have you tried setting the building on fire?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by walt-sjc (145127)
      Well, then ASK for it. Or quit. It's pretty simple.
    • by grommit (97148) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:42AM (#20742323)
      You don't need a lawsuit. You need to get your employment contract modified or move to a different job. That's all.
    • by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:45AM (#20742371) Journal
      When I applied for my job as a systems tech, I was assured it would be an 8-5 job. Did you get it in writing? If not, you have little recourse. You have a couple of options, though. You can either quit, or you can demand more money at your next review.

      Why do you let your company abuse and exploit you and then do nothing but complain to the internet about it?
      • by no_pets (881013) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:23AM (#20742907)
        I was in a nearly identical position as a sys admin at a hospital and I'll tell you why I stuck with it for a long time before quitting and probably why the original poster has stuck with it for so long. He is working two jobs. The after hours job is completely different from his daytime 8-5 job. He builds servers 8-5, gets paid well, likes the work, people, pay and he's happy. Then when it's his turn to be on call he becomes the fucking help desk. He's helping radiologists get their images, and other life-threatening bullshit that someone else should be doing. Say, a staffed, after-hours help desk employee that the company does not wish to hire. If the company had to pay the original poster for his overtime then they would instead hire a freakin' help desk person and then he would go back to his sweet 8-5 gig and be happy.

        He's probably sticking with it hoping that the eventually that position will be filled and he won't have to do it anymore.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Overzeetop (214511)
          The position will never be filled if they have people to work it "as part of their normal duties" (i.e.: for free).

          It's time to look for another job. If he hasn't backed himself into a corner (massive mortgage, kids, and a non-working spouse), he can always quit and look for another job, or start his own doing consulting. If he can't or won't do either, I don't want to hear complaints.
    • by Sporkinum (655143)
      I am a PACS Admin at a hospital, and fortunately those types of occurances are rare. Maybe 4 or 5 times a year. Yes, it does suck not to get overtime, but I will say it sucks more for the PACS vendor that has to answer my calls when I can't fix the problem myself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scubamage (727538)
      I think you're all missing the "kind of" qualifier. I do love my job, even if it is a pain in the ass. They don't care if I stroll in two hours late because they know I bust my ass. However, I think there should be something to protect IT workers because until there is, companies are going to be asking for more and more. I'm lucky I'm not one of the programmers here, one actually has a cot in an unused side room. Granted, he also makes about 3 times what I do. That said, the plumber example above is a good
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cthulhuology (746986)
      My best friend is a PACS admin for one of our county hospitals. As a county hospital employee he had to join the government union. Does he get overtime and flex time when he gets a pager call? You bet ya! Does he get paid "private sector" wages, yep (was a matter of having the job's classified as a higher grade). So I gues the solution to your problem might actually be a union.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bwalling (195998)
      So, if the law changes, your employer will not pay you any more than they do now. You'll likely run the risk of earning less. When determining your hourly pay rate, your employer will factor in the total number of hours they desire you to work, including the on call time. So, your pay will be the same as it is now, provided you work a full week, including the late night calls. The weeks where you don't get the calls, you'll get paid less than you do now.

      Think I'm being cynical? Watch it happen. Best
  • From a sysadmin point of view, the time spent on Service Packs, Patches and Antivirus (handling issues arising from above software) has to be the most unrewarding, thankless and useless in their careers.
    ZERO value addition - nothing useful learnt... except to understand how MS has found another way to screw up.
    ZERO appreciation from management or users ... the sysadmins are just doing a job!
    ZERO information / guidance to complete... everything is learnt in the field - support from MS or Symantec is close to
    • Any company led by half a brain ought to be keeping track of exactly what that paycheck is buying them, as in how much time you spend on what.

      You should consider keeping track yourself and making it available to your immediate superior. Worst case it's a CYA when someone further up the line complains.
    • by walt-sjc (145127) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:50AM (#20742453)
      Sysadmin type work is NEVER simply a 9-5 type job. Why? Because so much maint has to be done during off hours. That's the way it has always been. If you have an incompetent jerk boss that decides that you need to work 9-5 everyday PLUS do off hours maint with no comp. time or anything, then that's YOUR problem. My "night maint" guys start late the day of maint, get free dinner, and only work a half-day the next day (frequently resulting in a less-than 40 hour week.)

  • Never mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:36AM (#20742239) Journal
    Never mind contracts. It's the law who's king.

    If the la says overtime must be paid, contracts who say otherwise are null and void.

    It's not for nothing that there are laws, because companies cannot be relied to do the right thing.

  • by AbbyNormal (216235) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:36AM (#20742241) Homepage
    for a few years, I think companies have made out like bandits. Companies have always towed the "your a professional" line when expecting overtime from employees. While that may be true, try telling that to your plumber or mechanic. I'm wondering what the impact on general salary would be if some sort of legislation was put into place.
  • by cavehobbit (652751) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:37AM (#20742251)
    The problem is that IT are the only workers, non-professionals in the traditional sense, that are singled out as exempt from overtime, whether straight time or time and a half.

    State laws, like Californias, are all based off the Federal law.

    This exemption was written into the law way back in the 1970'or 80's at the behest of big corporate consulting firms based in NYC. Priot to that, IT folks were paid hourly just like most other office staff.

    This is a matter of basic fairness. Why should IT be singled out for different treatment from all other technical trades?

    I have been biatching about this for years. Equal treatment under the law is a Constitutional requirement in the US, and just plain ethical everywhere else.

    This is also the reason why most IT offices are 40 hour weeks on paper, but 50-60 hour weeks in actuality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tipa (881911)
      My previous job -- in California -- was just like this. An hourly wage except it was salaried -- exempt. What that basically meant is if I was under 40 hours a week, I got paid for the actual time, but if I was OVER 40 hours a week, I got paid for 40 hours, even when my boss had to go away for business (we were a two-person department) and I had to cover his job as well. Everyone else in the company at my level (bottom level peon) were hourly and got overtime. I was expected to work as much as them -- that'
  • All they do is implement someone else's desires -- I love this. i am no longer a programmer, bit pusher, or code grunt! I am an implementer of someone else's desires.
  • I think more jobs will be lost overseas while salaries will be cut or held stagnate over time to normalize programming/worker costs. That's one of the realities in our global economy. Rarely in our recent recent history have salaries simply and truly gone up across the board (accounting for true inflation).

    I mean, I can the other side - companies will not hire enough people in some cases and work their salaried ones to the bone in some cases, until they are exhausted and not of any immediate use anymore.

    B
  • Be really good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:40AM (#20742287)
    I used to work in a company that used to put a lot of pressure on the programmers to work long hours. One old guy there came at 9am and left at 5pm every day, and refused to work any later. They didn't get rid of him because he was good and reliable. In retrospect I realise all of us ambitious youngsters were being taken for a ride and the old guy just wasn't having it.
    • Re:Be really good (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CmdrGravy (645153) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:22AM (#20742901) Homepage
      Of course you were being taken for a ride, it's the companies job to squeeze as much out their employees as they can for as little as possible.

      It's your responsibility to realise that if you signed up for 40hours a week working hours then that's how many hours you should do. If you're not getting paid why on Earth would you work, this has always been a mystery to me.

      The best situation is where you can manage your time flexibly, do your 40 hours of work at a time which suits both you and the company best.

      I really am amazed that you all don't seem to expect overtime for working more hours, this is madness. I live in the UK and I can tell you I would never ever make a habit of working more hours than I was contracted for without expecting overtime and I think thats a fairly attitude here. If you're working for something then they need to pay you for the work, it's a simple as that. I'm not a charity !
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aceticon (140883)

      I used to work in a company that used to put a lot of pressure on the programmers to work long hours. One old guy there came at 9am and left at 5pm every day, and refused to work any later. They didn't get rid of him because he was good and reliable. In retrospect I realise all of us ambitious youngsters were being taken for a ride and the old guy just wasn't having it.

      I'm usually that "old guy".

      Funny part is, i ain't that old - i'm in my early thirties.

      Even funnier than that, the reason i get away with it

      • by swb (14022)
        ...and fortunately I just turned 40, so I can actually half-sort-of claim to be old, too.

        I took a job at a small business consultancy and found myself IMMEDIATELY pressured to work for free after hours (returning emails, looking over proposals, as well as some miscellaneous work that had to be done after hours like reboots). Most of the pressure of course came from the principals, who have the most to gain from "extra" work.

        I pushed back immediately, not answering phone calls or email after 5, when asked w
  • Well I do. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samael (12612) * <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:45AM (#20742375) Homepage
    I get overtime as a coder. And I have no compunction about saying "Sorry, I'm busy this weekend, I can't do any overtime." when asked (not that I turn it down all the time, but I like to have my time off...off).

    You crazy Americans with your 5 days holiday a year, 80 hour working weeks and complete lack of overtime.
  • by mujo (1083177) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:48AM (#20742421)
    the problem is not whether the law allows the bosses to pay or not pay for extra hours, its all about availability of workers willing to not demand for extra hours to be paid.

    I mean if I start to insist on getting paid for every hour over 42h/week I work, my boss will fire me and replace me with someone that wont ask for overtime.
  • ...is that IT departments are simply not hiring enough people to do all the work, even when the outsource overseas. We hear all the time how productivity in the United States keeps going up -- it has to! One person is expected to the work of three now, and nowhere is that more evident than in IT. Companies don't seem to realize that for a modest investment in extra staff up front, they can save the cost of projects running late and over budget, keep downtime to a minimum by having enough technical staff ava

  • frigging idiots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:50AM (#20742455) Homepage
    An employer has a limited amount of money with which to compensate employees. The exact structure of counting the labor doesn't affect the pay in the long term. Long herre is about a year.
  • by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:59AM (#20742571)
    I have been following this for a bit. There has been overtime exceptions for decades for professionals like lawyers, doctors etc. One of the problems of the changing laws is they keep revising downwards what the definition of an IT "professional" is. I make $90k base pay, but the current definition of IT "professional" has overtime for IT workers thrown out if I recall correctly below $40k, or it may even be below $30k.

    As far as people who don't want government involvement - there are a host of laws limiting what we can do. The Taft-Hartley law allows the government to call off any strike. States are allowed to prevent certain agreements between workers and management (a "closed shop"). Overtime, at least below a certain salary level, is one of the things countering this. If you don't care about the ITAA etc. pushing the salary level for overtime down, down, down until it disappears, all that will exist are laws that give weight to the employer, and have the government take away your freedom in contract-making with the employer (Taft-Hartley, so-called right-to-work laws etc.) Even if you want to do away with all such laws, from our perspective it makes sense to keep these laws until the ones hurting us are done away with first, as in the meantime these just balance things on our side against the laws against us.

  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @08:59AM (#20742575)
    I'm a medical student who will be graduating soon and entering residency. I hope any progress from this affects us, too - currently the AAMC (which regulates the medical residency programs) limits interns and residents to an 80 hour work week. Yes, these are the people charged with learning to save lives WHILE saving lives. 80 hours per week. Most of us will sign some utterly unfair, incomprehensible, thick as a dictionary employment agreement with our hospital that basically signs our life over to them for the next 3 to 7 years. Choice tidbits of "policy" included in these contracts mention that we may be expected to be on call for anywhere from 18 to 36 hours - on hospital grounds - multiple times per week. The 80 hours limit, while "technically" weekly is only calculated on a monthly basis. Fun times.
     
    It's great that such important people as those who maintain our information technology infrastructure are about to get a financial boost... what about those of us earning $55,000 a year or less with 8 years+ of college and post-graduate education and charged with taking care of you and your family? Everyone envisions doctors as Corvette-driving, boat-owning, million-dollar mansion homestead people. I assure you that in today's marketplace, NOBODY goes into medicine for the money - unless they're making drugs for a big-pharm company or doing boob jobs.
  • by techpawn (969834) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:01AM (#20742585) Journal
    ...In a given week I do 15 hours of REAL actual work...? Let's be honest with ourselves. We work overtime because a LOT of what we have to do must be done during non production hours. There are some days where we're in support mode and just read websites all day...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Boogaroo (604901)
      If I'm required to sit at work, and not allowed to go home, it's still using my time. It's not my fault if things are maintained and running properly, oh wait... :)
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:33AM (#20743061)
    IT Managers have no way of knowing if an IT person is productive or not. The only way they know when they are being ridiculous is when you fail.

    Fail earlier and they will not push so hard.

    You can make the same money working 40 hours a week as you do working 60 hours a week (6 figures +).

    Oh-- and those indian programmers got 10% more expensive last week in one day because of currency changes. And we have at least two more interest cuts on the way that will damage the currency but save a lot of homeowners so further currency depreciation is likely. I recently saw a burn rate for Infosys personnel from a project estimate. For onshore resources they are now more expensive ($65/hr + $1k a month housing allowance) than US resources including our benefits.

    I think the great offshoring wave is going to stop quickly now... and maybe our wages will start recovering.

    The fact is good trained experienced programmers are worth $100k regardless of the nation they are sitting in. As a result of that fact, labor costs in india and china have been going up 40% a year before you take into account the dollar dropping and their currencies rising.
  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:39AM (#20743165)
    It's really necessary for something to be done about the current environment for IT people. I've been hit by this at several jobs and it really sucked. The worst are integration companies, where you are paid a salary but billed to the client hourly. Deadlines and workloads are setup such that the "engineer" is expected to work 60 - 80 hour weeks for a flat rate salary while the company is being paid for the service, often at an "overtime" rate.

    And woe be the guy who isn't back in the office again at 8 AM sharp after working on a project until 1:00 am the day before. I've been threatened with losing pay and even possible termination for just that very thing.

    • by rk (6314) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @03:43PM (#20748339) Journal

      "And woe be the guy who isn't back in the office again at 8 AM sharp after working on a project until 1:00 am the day before. I've been threatened with losing pay and even possible termination for just that very thing."

      If they fired you, it would probably be the best thing they could do for you. I had a job like that once, and because I dared to leave at 5pm one day for a doctor's appointment, they fired me the next day even though I came in to work at 4:30am. Yes. Twelve and a half hours wasn't enough.

      My next job had no overtime, better pay, tuition reimbursement, better health plan, and flex time so I could schedule college classes (I hadn't finished my degree at the time). Seeing how a company could be GOOD, I vowed to myself that I would never work in the bad conditions I came from again. Sure, I've had crunch overtime, and even had to work weird hours for a bit when I was doing a little work for the Mars Rover team, but I've only had one other shitty job since then when a reorganization made me (a Unix software engineer) into an NT sys admin andwebmaster (pronounced "glorified typist"). Even then, I worked damn little overtime (restart, reboot, reinstall wasn't an arduous job).

      It helps to be excellent (not merely good) at what you do, though. In the last 17 years, I've only spent about 16 weeks jobless, only 6 of which were without another job lined up at the end of them. Most of that in 2001, which was a lot of us.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @09:45AM (#20743259) Journal
    It has always astounded me how people will cheerfully accept the ideology of the ruling class, when it is clearly not in their own interests. we can laugh at the blue collar dorks who slave away at WalMart for crap wages and crappier benefits and then turn around and vote a straight Republican ticket. Sure: making fun of people like that is like dynamiting fish in a barrel.

    But when one starts to push it a bit farther and point out to the so-called intelligensia that they are wilfully lying down and getting screwed by The Man, then everyone gets all touchy and pissy and the mods start in with Troll or Overrated or Flamebait ratings because the point hits close to home. And this happens in "the Real World" as well as this little nest of geeks here at Slashdot.

    People were litereally shot dead for the right to a weekend. This is all extremely well documented, even wikipedia [wikipedia.org]documents a few examples.

    So, when people cheerfully surrender to the Boss to do unpaid overtime, they are completely disrespecting the sacrifice of countless millions of people who have struggled to turn our society into something other than cheap wage slavery and a race to the bottom to benefit the few.

    So, it's about fucking time IT professionals grew a spine and started demanding their rights. And if the jobs get offshored, then organise the offshore workers as well. No one deserves to be exploited, and we can, by co-operative direct action, invent a better world for ourselves and our descendants. It just takes the ability to see oneself as a responsible citizen in an active democracy, instead of a mindless taxpayer/consumer who pays for services.

    RS

  • View From Canada (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @10:24AM (#20743925)
    The notion down in the US seems to favour the company far more than the worker as opposed to where I am (Manitoba Canada). Here in Manitoba, the only exemptions to paying overtime involve management, which is specifically defined as having the power to hire and fire, control your own work and discipline others as well as control your own hours. For everyone else, including salaried employees, the exemption where you don't get paid occurs only if you make more than 2-1/2 times the industrial average in the jurisdiction.

    The introduction of these laws came after a worker successfully sued their employer over unpaid overtime and the terms under which she was hired. The terms being vague, essentially meant that because she was salaried, she could be compelled theoretically to work 24/7 with no compensation for the extra hours. The court found this unacceptable. Further review by the province found that the number of people in similar situations was huge and this was remedied this spring through legislation.

    I find it interesting that in the US, there is not even a legal requirement to pay vacation for full time workers. I find it more interesting that many individuals in these replies seem to support the work until you drop mentality. I also find it interesting that apparently down in the US, your employer can walk up to a desk clerk and force them to pee in a bottle for them. Talk about intrusive. Weird, people don't seem to care about that, but are wound up over google taking picures of people in the street who no one will ever likely recognize or know.

    I would think there should be some fairness in how companies treat workers.
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:23AM (#20744781)
    I worked for a medical device manufacturer in the 90's and they had a small NOC of about 4 people (2 sysadmins and 2 techs). As fate would have it the 2 sysadmins both found alternate employment about the same time so they offered one of the techs a "promotion" to sysadmin. During the meeting to discuss the promotion the tech was given the terms of his role as the new sysadmin. He looked it over, started laughing and handed the proposal back to them. When they asked why he was laughing he replied "I make more than that now!". Techs were Salaried Non-Exempt and eligible for overtime whereas sysadmins were straight salary.
  • by csoto (220540) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @11:33AM (#20744963)
    So, you want to be subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (rather than "exempt")? Then be prepared to be at your desk for an actual 8 hours (minus two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break). Be prepared to punch in and account for every minute of your time. Be prepared to be a glorified custodial worker...

    Don't bitch about what you've got, until you realize what you COULD have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RembrandtX (240864)
      Sounds like heaven compared to sitting down at my desk at 7:00 am. Then working until noon, taking 5 mins to get my lunch from the refrigerator and heating it up, then eating it at my desk. Followed by working straight through until 6:00 PM or so. Only to be on call if anything 'comes up' that evening.

      $70,000 a year is based on a 40 hour work week. If your working 60 hour weeks or more, you are probably worse off THAN a custodial worker. With more stress, and less family face time.

      Do not try to make us thin
  • by dfint (907009) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @02:24PM (#20747295)
    Why must I suffer as an IT professional because your lack of management forethought. If we are a 24x7x365 company, act like one. Spread the work to multiple shifts. I volunteered to work a night/later shift. I was denied because we are an 8 to 5 company. Well then why am I putting in 8 hours during the day just so I can schedule my real work for a 3am maintenance window that night, and then they would really like you to be back to work at 8am. Companies don't change unless it's painful for them not to change, or the government tells them to. Your forgetting that we are the little guy and the company is the big guy we have no power. my 2 cents
  • by Aram Fingal (576822) on Tuesday September 25, 2007 @03:05PM (#20747801)
    About a year ago, there was a finding that the institution I work for had misclassified about 300 positions, including mine, and we should be eligible for overtime pay. I'm a sysadmin, DBA and a few other things. We are also now eligible for membership in the union. I did, in fact, decide to join the union, mainly because of one particularly bad manager, who is going to become my direct supervisor starting in a few months. Most of the people who I work with are fine people but this manager is well known to have had problems with many employees.

    It is also interesting to note that salaries do seem to be being passively adjusted because of the change. June is the time that we typically get pay raises and every year, up until this one, there were both general pay raises (which essentially adjust for market conditions, inflation and cost of living) and merit pay raises. This year, after the overtime decision, there were only merit pay raises.

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein

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