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View Diary: Wage theft hits software engineers as well as fast food workers (70 comments)

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  •  Union aren't just for the assembly line (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe you've never heard of unionized college professors?  Surely there work is not (entirely) rote and is often creative.  The problem is that the tenure and hiring system makes it very difficult to vote with your feet.  Universities typically don't want journeyman professors and even if they hire them, they frequently require working to regain tenure.  Because of this, non-union faculties receive salary raises equal to inflation in good years and no raises in subpar years.  Benefits and working conditions also tend to get worse over time.

    And consider this, in software, once you age past 35 or so, the ability to vote with you feet decreases year by year.  Unions are about protecting workers from exploitation no matter what job they do (see also airline pilots unions, professional sports unions, etc.).  


    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
    "Shared sacrifice!" said the spider to the fly.—Me

    by KingBolete on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:46:56 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  The alternate point of view is this... (0+ / 0-)

      Most of us are lucky/blessed/privileged enough to make enough that we care more about the tech we're working on than the pay.  Most of us that put in the 50-60 hour weeks do so because that's OUR infrastructure or code that's going to be out there and we love what we do.  In the Bay Area, we generally do get stock/equity/some form of ownership as well.

      And speaking for myself here...if someone's doing this for the pay rate alone and not because they love this shit, that's not the person I want working next to me, because that person isn't going to put in the extra time to solve a particularly hard problem, or take the extra time to closely review code, or want to keep up on the latest and greatest tools and technology.

      We are lucky enough to have the privilege to be choosy about where we work and how often we do it.  And there are definitely some terrible shops to work for.

      But at the end of the day, there's not that many of us.  Even in tech-heavy San Francisco, tech workers are just 6% of the workforce, and outside of the larger companies.  If our core skill is in a commonly used language or technology that hasn't changed in years, it's easily outsourced.  If your skill is the ability to become the instant expert on new tech, you'll always have work no matter how gray your hair gets.

      If there was a way that unions could actually help tech workers out, I'd be all for it, but the nature of the work and the wildly varying skill sets required for the different portions of the field at the level this article is talking about isn't a fit for it.

      Now, the men in women in the data centers and doing the physical work of IT most definitely need unions.  Tech support? Union helps.

      Software engineering or system architecture?  Give me the use case where a union can help and I'll be happy to support it, even at the cost of my own advancement, because the better off everyone is, the better off I am as a whole, even if not financially.  But I haven't been able to find one.  I'd love to be able to defend the idea of an IT Engineering union, if only because union training and union certification ensures that there's at least a portion of a candidate's skill set that they aren't completely BSing about.

      Everyday Magic

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      -- Clarke's Third Law

      by The Technomancer on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 08:15:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. Unionizing definitely improved matters (0+ / 0-)

      for the faculty at my university.  And the more administrations encroach on traditional faculty responsibilities, the more important it becomes.

      You’re certainly right about voting with one’s feet.  In my experience it’s only a bit of an exaggeration to say that there are basically two ways to change schools if you already have tenure: become a department chair somewhere (if you can stand the thought), or be a star.

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