Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Government News

Tech Firms Oppose Union Organizing 715

Posted by kdawson
from the fears-of-a-40-hour-week dept.
cedarhillbilly passes along a piece from TheHill.com on the chilly reception that tech firms and lobbying groups are giving to a bill promoting union formation, which has a chance of passing in a more strongly Democratic congress and with a Democratic president. "Up to now, large tech groups have been on the sidelines in what is likely to be one of the roughest fights in Congress next year. A few, however, are preparing to weigh in. That makes other tech lobbyists nervous that, by doing so, the industry could sacrifice relatively good relationships with Democrats and, therefore, jeopardize some of their other legislative priorities."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tech Firms Oppose Union Organizing

Comments Filter:
  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:12AM (#26144017) Homepage

    What we need instead is a professional guild association, much as the legal and medical professions have. Unions are more appropriate for low skilled industrial professions.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:16AM (#26144035)
    What are "professional bodies" if not unions? Do you really want a world in which anybody can call themselves a teacher,physician, an accountant, a lawyer, an airline pilot, or a civil or electrical engineer? What are these but unions? My wife, like most such people, cannot legally work in her profession without regular compliance assessment by her professional body. I can...but it has still been worth my while in terms of establishing credibility to add a few more postnominal letters after my Masters.

    Manufacturer certification (MCSE cough cough) is not a substitute for an organisation that takes care over assessing credentials. Here in the UK we have the BCS and the IAP, and perhaps others. My own feeling is that the main opposition to proper regulation of the software and IT industry comes from (a) managers who are unqualified and would not be able to get certification, (b) managements who want to cut corners on the job and (c) contractors who hop from one job to another without ever picking up a serious core competence.

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:17AM (#26144037)

    Funny how Unions are also the reason that we have safe working conditions and a reasonable minimum wage in the UK.

    I'm not denying that unionisation can bring downsides - strikes, unreasonable pay demands, political grandstanding etc - but without it we wouldn't have a lot of the benefits of collective bargaining that we have now.

    I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive. It seems in the US that the party with more power (the employer) should be allowed to tread all over the weaker individuals in society (employees) because every last one of you is going to be that guy next.

    You aren't. You're turkeys voting for christmas. Just to bring a seasonal theme in :)

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canUbeleiveIT (787307) * on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:19AM (#26144067)
    I too was in the UFCW and came away from the experience with the opinion that bad employees need unions more than good employees. Good employees are so hard to come by at the wage level of UFCW members that employers are loathe to lose them for almost any reason.

    Unions tend to put companies at a competitive disadvantage--auto industry, steel, etc. IMO, this isn't because they necessarily pay a higher wage, but also because it costs so much to have to keep a crappy employee. Higher admin costs, workplace morale, etc suffer. If you look into Trader Joe's, a non-union shop that pays the highest wages in the industry, you will see how well a company can do if they 1) pay a livable wage, 2) choose employees wisely, and 3) have a company culture that rewards effort and efficiency.

    One of the most ridiculous things that I have ever seen was the UFCW paying people minimum wage to picket a non-union store that was paying a higher starting wage than the union store.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:21AM (#26144073)

    Except the unions will make it harder on the employees whereas the guild will allow us to charge exorbitant prices to everyone else!

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elevtro (1012599) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:22AM (#26144075) Homepage
    I couldn't agree more with what you've said. I was a member of the IBEW and while entry level wages were higher, top end wages were lower. Not to mention the dues and other contributions that were expected. Then the near pointless meetings. In every other labor job I held they were non-union and the starting wages were lower, but the overall environment was more friendly, and we got a lot more work done. In the end that lower starting wage when you compare the take home, was about the same. So basically in the union you made more to give it to the greedy people running the union. Now working as a sys admin, I would hate it I were somehow forced to be in a union. I might have to climb the management ladder just to stay out of one.
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:22AM (#26144079)

    And this is why I'm for a Constitutional Amendment adding "2 term" term limits for all electable positions. We all know the old saying about power corrupting. Let's not give ANY politician of ANY stripe the amount of time in office needed to consolidate his or her power into anything approaching "absolute". We all know what happens then.

    Far too many of our politicians have been in office far too long. Political office was SUPPOSED to be a "volunteer" short-term position. Now our "Imperial" senators and house members have platinum-plated health care, platinum-plated private schooling for their kids, and SOLID PLATINUM retirement plans. It's GOT to stop. Our senators have already proven time and again that they don't feel beholden to us as they should. It's time to remove them all and START OVER. This time with term limits and minimal pay.

    Return power to where it belongs: The states and the People.

  • by JBMcB (73720) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:22AM (#26144081)

    Skilled trades unions are similar to guilds and seem to work quite well. Membership is optional, you can still be a freelancer if you want, and there is enough competition that rates stay competitive and there is plenty of work for everybody.

    What you don't want is a behemoth like the UAW or teamsters barging into your business and telling you how to run it.

    I have some friends in IT that are unionized under the UAW and it's a joke. They get paid less than average, they don't have much more job security than anyone else, and the benefits the UAW campaigns for are worthless to most of them. A group of their co-workers had some legitimate concerns over a few work policies, and the union blew them off.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <.moc.nosduh-arab ... .nosduh.arabrab.> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:24AM (#26144097) Journal

    The article speaks about people possibly being intimidated into signing a petition to unionize.

    Let's see how many people already feel intimidated to the point where they have to post as AC if they want to say anything good about this idea.

    And for all those that blame GMs' problems on the unions, wake up - GM makes crap cars nobody wants - THAT is the problem with GM.

    Have I ever been a member of a union? Yes - the Steelworkers (they don't just organize steel plants, you know :-)

    Would I ever again join a union? Sure, depending on the circumstances.

    Do I think unions are practical for IT? Yes. The image of the code-worker who is "too independent-thinking" to join a union is a self-defeating myth. Get over yourselves already. If nurses and bus drivers can have unions, why not IT workers?

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:26AM (#26144109) Homepage Journal

    I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive.

    Because:

    Good for employees at a cost to employers ==
    socialism == evil

    Flawless reasoning!

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:29AM (#26144127)

    That unions were the mechanism that helped bring about safe working conditions and better wages doesn't mean that they were the only possible mechanism, just that they were the mechanism that became part of history. They deserve credit for this, but it doesn't necessarily make them relevant going forward.

    At this point (in the U.S., I don't know about the UK), many of the worker protections are codified as law, and there is much greater recognition from employers that employees are an expensive resource, and that safety is often cheaper than training someone new.

    Wage rules are trickier (their are plenty of employers that are happy to pay reasonable wages, but there are also plenty of employers who will do everything possible to dick over their employees). The claim that there are jobs not being done because of minimum wages rules is often made, but who knows.

    I don't find unions offensive, but I am arrogant enough to believe that tying myself to Jim-Bob is going to weaken my negotiating position, not strengthen it, so I don't like it when people start talking about unions as a panacea.

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmack (197796) <gmack@in n e rfire.net> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:29AM (#26144129) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that under the current rules unions now have the upper hand in bargaining and union management tends to have their own agenda that often doesn't take the financial health of the employer into account.

    Facing a choice of either losing gobs of money now due to a strike or sacrificing long term profitability is not an enviable position to be in.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:29AM (#26144133) Homepage Journal

    I tend to agree with you about term limits, if for no other reason the fact that politicians almost universally oppose them. How bad can they be if that is the case?

  • Is it 1988 again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:32AM (#26144167) Homepage Journal

    Jeez I've been listening to this for 20 years. IT workers resist unionization. Why? I don't know but I suspect it has something to do with believing that each of you is more capable and special than anyone else. Even in companies like IBM who in the early 90's laid off a quarter million people, still, the remaining workers resist unionization.

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:35AM (#26144217)

    "I don't find unions offensive, but I am arrogant enough to believe that tying myself to Jim-Bob is going to weaken my negotiating position, not strengthen it, so I don't like it when people start talking about unions as a panacea."

    Oh, absolutely agreed, I'm not a member of a union myself, don't see the advantage to me personally. I just don't like it when people start saying they're useless/abusive/evil, as they've done good in the past and continue to help people. Usually people in low paid and less skilled jobs, who need help more than me and my software engineer buddies.

  • by Dobeln (853794) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:36AM (#26144221)

    I know - just look at the UAW! That's what the entire US economy needs right now.

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canUbeleiveIT (787307) * on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:37AM (#26144233)
    But it was a time and place when the employers really didn't care if they kept you or not and didn't want to give us decent insurance and the union helped that to happen - so I felt they provided more pros than cons. But it's easy for it to tip the other way.

    I understand that. I guess that I was less than clear. When I started in the late '70s, the grocery store business was a regional industry for the most part and the company I worked for paid one of the highest wages of any employer in the area. In fact, my wages were so much higher than that of any of my friends'--even the college grads. So, management's attitude was that workers were "a dime a dozen," which, quite frankly, was true since there were hundreds of people behind you waiting for a shot at your job.

    However, those higher wages left the door open for competitors to undercut the company I worked for, which is what happened. By the time I left the UFCW, the starting wage at the UFCW company was significantly lower than the non-union places.
  • Re:UAW (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jabster (198058) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:42AM (#26144285)

    You know, if you guys are so sure that all employees really want unions, explain how eliminating the secret ballot is a good thing?

    The big problem with that bill is that it essentially creates a union if 50%+1 people sign a "yes to the union" card. Currently, it just means that there then has to be a vote, again by secret ballot.

    How many people are really going to NOT sign that card when Vinny, surrounded by his two goons, "asks" them to sign it. After all, that's a nice car you have there. It'd be a real shame if something happened to it. And what a beautiful wife and lovely kids.

    This thread should not be about the validity or need for unions. It should be about how employees should have the right to -freely- choose if they want to unionize.

    And that means a vote by secret ballot. Not this new proposed method.

    -john

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:47AM (#26144313) Homepage Journal

    When your workers have good pay and benefits, that takes away from profits, and in a plutocracy such as ours the profits always outstrip any consideration for human beings and their needs.

    If WalMart was unionized, you wouldn't have to pay those taxes that go to food stamps. The poor are REQUIRED to work in the US under TANF (which ended AFDC welfare in 1996), so those food stamps are another government giveaway to the rich, like that 700 billion that went to the banks who still aren't making loans.

    Unions are good for everyone except the corporates.

    The head of a major non-union airline in the early 80s (I think it was Eastern, whatever company it was has since become union) said wisely "any company that gets a union deserves one". Your workers create your profits and your wealth. Bargain unfairly and they will come to bargain collectively.

    You owe your workers, the generators of your wealth, a living. If your business is sound you owe them a decent living.

    Want crime rates down? Raise wages. You'll find that most poor people are far more generous and honest than most rich people (not to say that many rich aren't honest or that all poor folks are).

    I've been re-reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol [literature.org], the story of a Republican who wakes up and finds that he's turned into a Democrat overnight.

    Humbug to you too, Mr. Bush.

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apathy maybe (922212) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:48AM (#26144323) Homepage Journal

    Oh, and the company that pays them wouldn't drop them like that if it suited the bottom line?

    The days of respecting and being loyal to the company have long gone, because the company doesn't respect, and certainly isn't loyal to, you.

    The union, on the other hand, will tend to be loyal to their members, will fight for their rights, and so on. (Unions aren't perfect, but under a capitalism system, they are often better than nothing.)

    ----

    More generally, it amazes me that so many "free market" types hate unions. But they don't have any trouble with corporations and so on colluding to keep wages down.

    That's the trouble with those who want a perfectly free capitalist market (a contradiction in terms). The want to give all the power to the bosses, and screw the workers, even when joining together in a union is good for the workers interests. They don't like unions because they don't really want a free market, they want a bosses market.

    Fuck that.

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by famebait (450028) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:49AM (#26144331)

    That unions were the mechanism that helped bring about safe working conditions and better wages doesn't mean that they were the only possible mechanism, just that they were the mechanism that became part of history.

    Yeah, well, if they're the only mechanism in recorded history to achieve that in any significant way, that might be a good reason to take some note. Wouldn't it at least be a good idea to work out in very clear terms what other mechanisms are to take over and how and why they are likely to work, before kicking out the only thing we know works?

  • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:54AM (#26144391)

    Even in companies like IBM who in the early 90's laid off a quarter million people, still, the remaining workers resist unionization.

    Good call. Lay off a few workers when the clone makers got away with reverse engineering the BIOS. IBM is still in business and doing reasonably well. With a Union "protecting" the workers, IBM may have failed much like the auto industry without a bailout.

    The auto industry has been under strain of a huge retired population and unable to shed the load as the demand for large high profit vehicles has dwindled. They are unable to compete in the Honda, Toyota, VW, etc market at the margins they need to carry the weight. They imploded under the need to downsize, but unable to shed obligations negotiated with the Unions. The golden goose is cooked unless bailed out.

    Are you ready to be next? Is your company ready to learn from history, or are they condemmed to repeat it.

  • Globilization (Score:2, Insightful)

    by djdbass (1037730) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:56AM (#26144399)

    How can unions work in the era of the global market? Creating artificial scarcity of labor only results in pricing yourself out of the global market, right?

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by famebait (450028) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @09:56AM (#26144407)

    At this point (in the U.S., I don't know about the UK), many of the worker protections are codified as law,

    How did that come to be? How long do you think those laws would last under conservative government if the unions were gone?

    and there is much greater recognition from employers that employees are an expensive resource, and that safety is often cheaper than training someone new.

    Are you joking? This is supposed to be the sole drive for safety? What if somehow that equation changes? What if you're in a line of business where it does not work that way?

    I don't consider unions a panacea either, but I do think a lot more people would be better off as members than currently are.

    There will always be people who, as you say, are better off on their own. But most of the people who think they are in that group only think so because they haven't chanced to find out yet.

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:02AM (#26144477)

    What's interesting is how often the union's improved terms for labor increases labor's productivity. Which means a larger total profit, so even a smaller share of it to the owners can be a larger total amount than before the union, when worse working conditions produced less profit for everyone.

    So, when a railroad union demands that a railroad hire firemen and brakemen that site around all day, they are increasing productivity?

    Or when a union demands a camera operator for robotic cameras in a television studio, they are increasing productivity?

    Or how about the fact that the Japanese automakers here in the States can change a production line to make small cars from SUVs in a matter of hours; whereas, Detroit takes months? Yeah, management has to take a hit on that one too, I agree, but much of that delay is union rules.

    Don't get me started on the pilot's union. $250,000 for a 777 captain? Yeah, I realize the career path of a commercial pilot and how they live in poverty while working up to that for years, but so do artists - it's their choice. I'd do it for $50,000 and be ecstatic! But, if airlines could reorganize and pay less (getting rid of the pilot seniority for one), we wouldn't be giving them tax payer handouts every few years. (There's going to be another next year - I guarantee it.)

    I agree that in the past, unions did a great job for the health, safety, pay, and over all living standards of workers. I've read the business history and I read what those 19th and early 20th century industrial bastards did. But that before the labor laws and OSHA.

    I think unions need to be reformed dramatically.

  • Re:UAW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:07AM (#26144531)

    I also find it odd that so many americans find the very idea (of workers gathering together to form a stronger position for bargaining with employers) somehow offensive. It seems in the US that the party with more power (the employer) should be allowed to tread all over the weaker individuals in society (employees) because every last one of you is going to be that guy next.

    I don't believe that's true. First, organized labor has far more power than employers (see below). Also, I think that America, by and large, dislikes the state of organized labor as a practical matter, not a theoretical one. There are a few good reasons why many Americans - myself included - dislike the unions that exist in this country. That doesn't mean we dislike the notion of unions. Those are two very distinct points that you lump together.

    Here's why I dislike the major US unions I'm familiar with:

    *Many unions were run by organized crime for decades. Some still seem to embrace that legacy.

    *The balance of power is tipped very heavily toward organized labor and against employers due to the US's labor laws - companies are legally required to negotiate with striking unions, whereas union members can get jobs during a strike. That (and other) imbalances basically give unions a license to print money, bleeding companies dry until they go under or leave the US.

    *American unions are the antithesis of a meritocracy - they make it absolutely impossible to fire incompetent employees, and negotiate for pay based on time served as opposed to skill. Both tend to rankle Americans (such as myself) who believe in working hard to make something of yourself.

    *Lastly and probably most important, very often unions don't represent the wishes of their employees. Especially with big unions, they're very lucrative for the leadership which is very often out of touch with the rank and file. It's easy to rip off the workers (which is one reason the mob got involved with unions early on). Now, the unions are pushing for rules that eliminate secret ballots in union elections, the most fundamental tenet of any democratic process. There is no possible reason for that except to intimidate workers and prevent them from keeping the union accountable.

    I'm not against unions in theory, I'm against the ones that exist in the US in practice.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:19AM (#26144677)

    Period. They had a purpose in the era of "wild" capitalism, but those times are over.

    Where have you been for the last two years? Isn't unrestricted lending and a $50 billion Ponzi scheme operated from Wall Street, no less, evidence that wild capitalism is still going strong?

  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:31AM (#26144825)

    No.

    The government has no business telling private citizens what they can earn. That's Communism, and antithetical to freedom. Politicians, on the other hand, serve their people. The public SHOULD demand that there be a limit on the financial rewards for serving. Again, being a politician is supposed to be a TEMPORARY SERVANT position for people passionate about their country. It's not supposed to be a career or an exclusive club for dynasty families lining their pockets off the public till.

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:43AM (#26144999)

    Why should the vote be binding at all? Let workers bargain collectively - but don't force it on them.

  • by mich.linux.guy (1271564) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:44AM (#26145011) Journal
    I watched labor unions in Michigan drive manufacturing out of this state into more friendly states like Tennessee. Unions have destroyed Michigan and given us the highest unemployment rate in the country.
    Destroying one state isn't enough. Let's all drink the kool-aid and perish together.
  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:52AM (#26145101)

    I too am living somewhere with similar union laws to the UK.
    Employers don't like them much and I know a few places where conditions improved when talk of a union stared but I've never heard of unions pushing non-members out.
    We have a massive (far too powerful) teachers union here which causes some problems but only about half the teachers in my school when I was younger were actually members.

    Unions don't have to be the mafia.
    They dont even have to have many people running them.
    At one of my workplaces I was a member of a nationwide office workers union and the main contribution from the union was a professional negotiator when there was some disputes over wages.
    Which was all that was needed. He got a very decent deal too.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:52AM (#26145103)

    I've been re-reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol [literature.org], the story of a Republican who wakes up and finds that he's turned into a Democrat overnight.

    Humbug to you too, Mr. Bush.

    I'm sorry, but Scrooge is a Democrat who wakes up as a conservative.
    "At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. "Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?" "They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not." "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge. "Both very busy, sir." "Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."
    As a good Democrat he is all for the government programs that provide a basic "safety net" out of taxes, but he doesn't give anything to charity. Check the statistics on charitable giving to see what I mean.

  • by clam666 (1178429) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:54AM (#26145137)

    When your workers have good pay and benefits, that takes away from profits, and in a plutocracy such as ours the profits always outstrip any consideration for human beings and their needs.

    Wow, that's right out of the Mickey Maoist handbook. The plutocracy? Are people still using that term? I'm assuming you'll give examples of where you've given away all your wealth above the poverty line to those who just can't get a break.

    At some point you'll learn that, because of the highs and lows in life, you need to build something called a "nest-egg", in order to have a little breathing room from the bumps in the road. In order to do that, you have to spend less than you earn, in essence, having a profit you could put away. I'm sure you don't believe in saving to get through the rough years, so I assume you'll never need to put anything away for a rainy day, as you'll never need profits in order to take care of unexpected issues in life.

    You may also learn that a company is not your surrogate parent, who's job it is to care about your every concern in life. They have work they need done, they offer to pay you to do it for them. If you don't have any consideration about the company making money, or your role in achieving that, why the hell should they give a crap about you and your considerations?

    If WalMart was unionized, you wouldn't have to pay those taxes that go to food stamps. The poor are REQUIRED to work in the US under TANF (which ended AFDC welfare in 1996), so those food stamps are another government giveaway to the rich, like that 700 billion that went to the banks who still aren't making loans.

    The $700 billion isn't for making loans BTW, although politicians are hoping that it will thaw the credit market (apparently back to the levels that they shouldn't have been at before). The credit "freeze" means, "let's not give 100% loans to people who's monetary experience is knowning how much crack costs."

    If the poor are required to work, this is the first I've heard about it. I thought they were poor because they weren't working?

    Unions are good for everyone except the corporates.

    You DO realize that unions are corporations too right? And that unions are created by people because it's a business model that uses "workers" as a sellable commodity don't you? And they can only gain power by blocking out any competition and becoming a monopoly for their product right?

    You owe your workers, the generators of your wealth, a living. If your business is sound you owe them a decent living.

    You only "owe" them what you've contractually promised them; such as an annual amount of money that's broken up into bi-weekly segments that you pay them with the knowledge that either of you can sever the relationship.

    What's a "decent" living? Having a family of four and an Escalade while working at McDonalds? Who determines that? Oh that's right, instead of determining that yourself, giving your power to a union or government to do the thinking for you is the solution. Since you don't mind giving that decision away anyway, you might as well let your employer determine that for you.

    Want crime rates down? Raise wages. You'll find that most poor people are far more generous and honest than most rich people (not to say that many rich aren't honest or that all poor folks are).

    I've heard drug dealers make "decent" money. I guess our inner cities will be safe any day now. If the poor have more money, do you really think they'll start making good decisions or just blow the money and be right back where they were 6 months later? Take a look at lottery winners someday. I think in the real world you'll find that people that want to get out of their situation in life will actually methodically plan their way out of it rather than bitch about it or just magically stay poor their entire lives.

    I see you've had at least 12 years of marxist doctrine shoved at you. Poor people are generous and honest?

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:54AM (#26145139)
    Maybe he honestly believes that unions are a good thing for the American people, and he bemoans the fact that few people agree with him. Maybe he thinks that if this bill passes, more people will agree with him that unions are good, and they'll thank him later for passing this bill.

    Just because something is unpopular, doesn't mean it's wrong.
  • by SaDan (81097) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:58AM (#26145171) Homepage

    Or maybe those of us who are anti-union already don't get abused where we work because we stand up for ourselves? Maybe not all of us in IT put up with employers who expect unreasonable hours?

    I create the environment in which I work. I don't have to put in crazy hours (40 a week is the norm for me), I get excellent benefits, catered lunches, a free gym at work, no questions asked family leave for sick kids/school functions, top of the line equipment to work with, my own office, etc. No, I'm not self-employed either.

    The only reason people have a sucky job in IT is because they let it be sucky. Grow a spine, and stand up for yourself. Don't wimp out and run to the unions for "protection".

    Honestly, if you can't be proactive towards your happiness at work, then you won't be proactive in your job either. Go find a new career if IT doesn't suit you.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:02AM (#26145205) Journal

    When I mention ideologues, I mean those that adhere to every plank, nail, and splinter of the party platform. It's one of the things that's gotten California in so much trouble. Democrats will not cut any spending (unless it's for something Republicans want), and Republicans will not raise any taxes. It's a deadlock on something where there cannot be a deadlock. I'm generally against raising taxes, but the state has a projected deficit over the next 18 months of $42 billion. Both sides have to give ground, whether or not people and business will be taking a hit. The current crop of ideologues simply figures that they can out-wait the other.

    This is the worst situation we've faced, but it's not the first where this has happened, nor will it be the last.

  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:06AM (#26145273) Journal

    I love how the pro-union stance is always how we poor, benighted IT workers are just too stupid to know how good we could have it if only we signed away our future and a chunk of our paycheck to some self-aggrandizing, self-perpetuating entity that is out for itself and its own power first and foremost.

    There is a reason highly trained, highly skilled workers don't tend to unionize. It's because we're hard to replace, and relatively highly paid. I may not make a mint, but I'm in the top 10% of employees in my business unit; I'm paid more than most managers. I don't get overtime, but no one complains when I take a 2 hour lunch, or work a 6 hour day.

    You can hold out for a pension until hell freezes over; private pensions are a thing of the past, because all modern industries can see what they did to the steel, airline, and auto industries. Frankly, private health insurance ought to go the same way.

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deraj123 (1225722) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:07AM (#26145297)

    To start, I agree 100% with the first half of your post. Company loyalty doesn't make sense (at present). The company is looking out for his bottom line - as an employee you should be doing the same (looking out for your own bottom line - which may or may not include more than just money).

    I consider myself a free market type. To me, the free market represents the ability of individual entities to negotiate, between themselves, a fair (to both parties) exchange of goods and services. Unions are a way for one group to increase their bargaining power. I don't have a problem with this. I do have a problem when a union receives special government protections. I do have a problem when a business doesn't have the choice to NOT do business with a union.

    As for corporations colluding to keep wages down - I think this is a problem. It takes away the ability of the free market to communicate value through price. However, I also don't think it's sustainable. Without some law requiring that these corporations keep wages at a set rate, the low rates will decrease the size of the workforce. As the size of the workforce decreases, it will become more difficult to hire good people. And, corporations will subsequently "break" their agreements and start paying a little bit more to lure the better workforce.

    So...unions are great. When they're free. When both the business and the worker have the right to decide, based on the costs and benefits that the union brings, whether or not to associate with them.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphani AT dal DOT net> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:08AM (#26145301)

    Thats because Unions work well for labor industries, not white-collar industries.

    I know some people in a union locally, in a labor industry. Even they hate it - people fly through to better jobs and better pay based on seniority and not ability. If you want to be measured based on seniority and education purely instead of ability and skill, by all means, unionize.

    I can not imagine the tech industry unionizing. It would be like saying 'anyone can do this job, it takes no skill'.

    I have no formal education, but I consider myself fairly good at what I do. Unions would have crushed my ability to move up.

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:08AM (#26145311) Homepage

    The problems in tech have mainly been caused by short term thinking of employers. Unions by tieing employers and employees more closely can cure short term thinking problems.

  • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:11AM (#26145359)

    If you don't like the way things are being done, do something about it or walk away. Don't complain that the entire system sucks (even though complaining is one of my favorite hobbies).

    Complaining about it is doing something about it.

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:27AM (#26145573) Homepage

    The truth is that labor relations and labor LAWS had been changing for a good 50 years by the time unions arrived on the scene. Indeed, there is ample evidence to show that, rather than speed the adoption of improved safety and labor laws, the unions, and the backlash they produced, actually SLOWED the advancement of labor and safety laws in the United States.

    Excellent! I suppose you can provide this evidence, then? It's an interesting topic, and I haven't heard this claim before, so I'd be interested to read your citations.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:51AM (#26145985) Homepage Journal

    The plutocracy? Are people still using that term?

    It's a perfectly useful term. If you don't want the term used, reform campaign finance and make our nation a representative republic again.

    plutocracy [reference.com]
    ploo-tok-ruh-see]
    -noun, plural -cies.
    1. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.
    2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
    3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.

    I'd say that describes the US perfectly. Don't like it? Change it.

    You may also learn that a company is not your surrogate parent, who's job it is to care about your every concern in life.

    Use your condescending tone on a younger man, boy.

    You create the wealth your employer aggregates. He owes you a living, period. Not your parent, a fair return for your labor.

    If you work forty hours a week and can't support a family, you're being fucked over. Screwed. Cheated. Stolen from. Scammed.

    What's a "decent" living?

    Food, shelter, transportation, clothing, beer. There are workers who don't even have shelter.

    If the poor have more money, do you really think they'll start making good decisions or just blow the money and be right back where they were 6 months later?

    They're not where they are because of bad decisions, they're where life has put them. "There but for the grace of God go I".

    I see you've had at least 12 years of marxist doctrine shoved at you.

    You don't have a clue, son. I voted for Nixon. If you think Dickens was a Marxist you live in a fantasy world. I hope reality never hits you with an unforseen catastrophe, because you'd never make it in the real world.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @12:10PM (#26146357) Homepage

    Precisely. Unions have a long term interest in the company, the executives often have a mid term interest in the stock price.

  • by jorghis (1000092) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @12:37PM (#26146873)

    I don't think that's it.

    Ok, if you dont think that the purpose of this is to effectively eliminate the secret ballot then why do you think the unions want it so bad? If its such a non-issue why dont they take the elimination of the secret ballot out of the bill?

    In the 100 or so years of union history in this country, isn't it more common for corporations to strong arm employees out of a union than these magical union bosses?

    No, its really not. Unions used to be heavily infested by mobsters once upon a time. Its true that corporations do cross the line sometimes and there should be and are laws against that. But to say that only corporations resort to intimidation or that they do so commonly is not accurate. There are laws to prevent retaliating against employees who sign those petitions and they are usually respected. The United States is a country of hundreds of millions of people though so there are certainly exceptions to the rule.

    Here is the fundamental problem with your claim that bosses are intimidating workers into voting against the union on the secret ballot: The bosses DONT KNOW how an individual employee voted and therefore any threats of "you had better vote this way" have no teeth. This is the whole point of a secret ballot.

  • Re:UAW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @01:09PM (#26147413)

    More unrecognised benefits:

    • In Britain, Unions campaigned against indirectly supporting the slave trade [revealingh...ies.org.uk] elsewhere in the world through the use of slave-grown cotton etc. in factories.
    • Also, when Child Labour was outlawed in Britain, the Unions backed it. as well as some employers. There were still many employers who argued that it was the child's choice to work in their factory, that making it illegal would deprive their families of an income, and make business uncompetitive - arguments that are much the same as those made today against the minimum wage and other such concepts.

    Strict ideologies are unhelpful - in some cases the Unions have supported, or even demanded, reform to bring in fairer and safer working conditions, in other cases Unions have been obstructive, extortative and unrealistic in their dealings. Neither fact means that Unions are always good or always bad.

  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WCguru42 (1268530) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @01:30PM (#26147811)
    Unions have an interest in themselves. Look at the auto industry, if the unions would give concessions instead of asking for a yearly raise when the auto companies are clearly declining then maybe those companies could be competitive. Unions are wholly responsible for the failure of US auto companies but they aren't guiltless either. Unions were necessary to enact worker safety regulations but now they should just go away.
  • Why I Am Pro-Union (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srobert (4099) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @02:27PM (#26148673)

    As you can see from my four-digit ID, I've been hanging out on Slashdot for a long time. Whenever the union issue comes up here, I notice that there are an awful lot of negative comments against unions, more than there are favoring them. Since I'm firmly on the pro-union side, it's incumbent on me to chime in.
    First, regarding the Employee Free Choice Act, there is a lot of misinformation about this that is being unchallenged by the mainstream media. One myth is that this act will eliminate the secret ballot for union organizing. That is NOT true. The employees will still be able to request that a secret ballot election be held. It will eliminate the employer's right to demand a secret ballot for the purpose of delaying union certification, and in the interim, intimidate employees to reject the union.
    Now regarding the attitude generally displayed here toward organized labor, anecdotes prove nothing. Tired old tales about your uncle's friend's co-worker who showed up to work drunk, and caused your uncle's friend to lose his thumb, but couldn't be fired because of his union, may convince lots of people that unions are a bad thing, but they are largely apocryphal. Even where they are true in isolated cases, it is an indicator of incompetent management, not a necessary impact of the union. If you are managing a unionized work-force, and you are too lazy to even read their contract (which would tell you how to dismiss such an employee), then you are the problem, not the union.
    Fair analysis of data (e.g. http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/datazone_rtw_index [epi.org]) indicates that unions have a positive impact upon the distribution of wealth, and general level of prosperity. Moreover, as unions decline in influence nationally, living standards decline both in the unionized and non-unionized sectors. Median real wages among those of you who live in so-called "right to work" states are lower than for those who live in states that don't interfere in the membership requirement that is written into union contracts. Yes, I'm sure that you may have read some report from the Heritage Foundation, or Cato Institute that said otherwise. But if you believe those sources of information, you may as well watch Fox news. If you must rely so heavily on anecdotes, talk to older members of your family, and ask them about whether or not there was ever such a thing as a "stay-at-home" mom. Ask them how could anyone afford to live that way.
    I was raised in the '60s and '70s. When I was a kid, my father went to work in a factory every weekday. My mother did not work outside the home. This was typical among most of the families that I knew. Forty man-hours a week, for a family of four (six in our case), performed by a man without a college education, (in fact my dad didn't even have a high school diploma), was sufficient to maintain middle class living standards in typical American families at that time. We had health insurance, owned our homes, had leisure time, vacations, and typically, a full time mother. When my dad's company laid off workers temporarily during a lull, my father's seniority was honored. He felt bad for dismissed coworkers, but he didn't cut back spending, or miss any house payments. My father retired with a pension that kept him from falling into abject poverty for the rest of his days. That pension was bargained for by his union. It was not provided by his employer out of the goodness of their hearts.
    As for myself, as a young man, I joined a trade union, served an apprenticeship and became a journeyman. But recognizing the direction of the political viability of unions, I decided to go to college part time later in life, and become an engineer. I paid my own way, and graduated nine years ago without the debt of a college loan. That was one of the benefits of a union wage. Today, though, working as a college educated professional, I barely approach the living standards that my family had in my childhood.

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snarfer (168723) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @03:15PM (#26149355) Homepage

    The auto unions HAVE made huge concessions, lower pay, etc.

    In Germany and Japan THE GOVERNMENT provides health insurance and generous pensions. Here the auto companies have to pay that, so they are less competitive.

  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @03:38PM (#26149661) Homepage

    The US auto industry is one of the only US manufacturing industries that has survived, thrived and grown from 1970-2006. Look at Steel, textiles.... it doesn't appear that unionization and high wages were that destructive.

    And if the auto companies wanted (or still want) worker concessions one way to achieve that is employee ownership. They could have discussed stock plans with the unions as part of contract negotiations.

  • by mpascal (1158165) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @04:03PM (#26150031)
    I'm tired of reading comparisons of IT workers to steel workers, auto workers and pipe fitters.

    The arguments I read here go like this: "Blue collar workers belong to unions. IT workers aren't blue collar workers, therefore IT workers don't belong to Unions".

    I'd like to compare IT workers with film industry workers. Production designers, casting directors, location managers, writers and directors.

    Are you aware that those actors, directors, writers who get paid millions of dollars are also union members? So much for the "you can't advance to your full potential if you are in a union" argument.

    But I wanted to talk more about the average film industry worker who makes $70,000-$150,000 working 100-200 days a year. I'm one of these people. I've worked for a total of 20 years. 15 years non union and five years union after we organized our sector.

    We are still freelancers. We may work for 5-20 different employers every year. There is no seniority. Each party chooses to work with whoever they want for whatever amount they want. There is a "minimum" pay scale but 90% earn above the minimum.

    Except on shooting days when we have to be on set a certain time we choose how we spend the day, how many hours and what type of work. Sure we have to complete a given task but it's up to us how we go about it. If it takes too long or we don't do it right we get laid off or we don't get hired again.

    This is how it was before we became union and this is how it continues to be after we became union. Nothing has changed.

    The only thing that changed is now we have health and pension benefits with one of the best health plans in the country.

    Couldn't I afford to buy my own health insurance? Yes, I could but with insurance companies repeatedly wiggling out of their obligations when you need them the most I wouldn't want to. One person vs Huge Insurance company = FAIL

    BTW when we were collecting cards to unionize the only people that refused to sign where those who were already receiving union health benefits through a spouse or a second job.

  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @04:05PM (#26150057)

    Unions are run by people and people in power are generally selfish assholes. It's sort of like saying that politicians have the country's long term interest in mind at all times. They don't. Their interest is to get money and keep getting elected into their office. The times they do care about something they're usually so misinformed or have such a short attention span that the country would have been better off if they hadn't done anything. That's assuming they're thinking at all rationally and people in general don't think rationally when they want something.

  • by shaneFalco (821467) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @04:10PM (#26150143)

    I'm actually a community organizer who, until very recently, actually worked on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). Having talked to literally thousands of average people day in and day out for 18, the vast majority of people given the chance would join a union (studies have backed this up- a full 86% of people would join a union given a chance).

    Granted, as an organizer I was actually in management and sometimes the union contract got in the way of removing a problematic employee; but at the same time it serves as a deterent to unfair practices by management.

    I'm seeing a lot of opposition to the removal of the secret ballot. Let me clarify. Under the present system people need to sign union cards- until you hit 50%+1 to say 'We'd like to vote on the issue of whether or not we have a union.' The company then knows exactly who has expressed interest in a union and usually target those folks with intimidation/firing/coersion up until the election... which is held on the employer's home turf.

    Furthermore, EFCA also greatly increases the fines for union busting activities. Right now, someone is fired in America every few minutes for union activity; Wal-Mart has a whole corporate department dedicated to union busting. Violations usually cost a company about 5,000 bucks- and when you're Wal-Mart that's nothing; but under EFCA- those penalties rise to as much as $250,000 per incident. Something tells me Wal-Mart might actually play by the law now.

    As for me, my dad was a union guy, I'm a professional, couple of advanced degrees, yet I worked in organizing and did management there. I've seen how a union paycheck allows people to live at a decent level (we weren't rich- but we didn't have to choose between getting the car fixed and only buying the store brand cookies rather than Chips Ahoy. And for me its a little personal. My dad worked at UPS- when I was in high school I developed a very severe case of scoliosis- without a major surgery I wouldn't be able to walk today. Because the union fought for better health benefits during the 1997 labor dispute with UPS I had the surgery (keeping track of the bills that came home during a 4 month recovery the sticker price is a little more than $300,000) and I can still walk.

    Of course there is always that free market arguement. If any of the free-market apologetics have ever actually read Adam Smith- they'd notice he calls for a self-imposed limit to the hours and excesses of large business- that clearly hasn't happened. Also, he was writing in a time where labor relations played out in a small shop- sure it was easy to go to the cobbler across the street if the one you were working for was treating you poorly. These days (and especially with what has been going down lately) that is no longer possible. Companies have all the leverage to make the average employees life a living hell.

    Also, while unions do protect crappy and lazy employees, studies have suggested the quality of work from union employees is much higher in union made products than in non-union ones. If anyone would like the stats and citations... I'll be happy to get them for you- just not in front of me right now.

    Although I will probably be back in academia by the time EFCA passes (which I have little doubt it will) I am proud to have worked on this campaign- it is high time workers are treated as humans and not tools of excessive corporate profit.

    I'm reminded of a T-shirt I saw once for one of the local unions, "United we bargain- alone we beg."

    Full disclosure: I served as the Assistant Canvass Director of Working America, AFL-CIO, Cleveland from June 07- November 08.

  • Ward Cleaver (Score:4, Insightful)

    by srobert (4099) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @05:31PM (#26151165)

    "...but back then you could DEFINATELY live the "Leave it to Beaver" life without having a union job."

    Absolutely true. But the only reason that the Ward Cleavers, who didn't join unions, got decent paychecks was because the unions had raised expectations for everyone. Ward would only become a professional, if professionals made significantly better money than carpenters. And carpenters, both union and non-union, were doing well because of unions, thus Ward was able to command upper middle class living standards as a professional.

* * * * * THIS TERMINAL IS IN USE * * * * *

Working...