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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the unionize-now dept.

Computing is notorious for not having a worthwhile professional association. Some practitioners join the IEEE, the IET or the ACM. However, membership typically costs hundreds of dollars per year and offers little practical help to computer professionals working in small companies. If you're working for government or a large corporation or you're a super programmer in a well funded start-up then you probably have a union or you don't need a union. However, if you're the sole techie in a small business, appreciation for your dedication is just the start. What happens when you're asked to do something unethical or illegal? Where do you turn when a job goes sour? How do you avoid the problem? How can you avoid really toxic employers?

Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per year for talks and conferences, you require local experts who have first-hand experience of local employers and local employment problems. How can this be achieved reliably and cost-effectively? This is where our expertise should shine. Firstly, union entry should be at least as stringent as the conceirge union. Secondly, there should be a web-of-trust within each metropolitan region (and ideally between regions). In the best case, the network distance between all members should be four or less. Thirdly, an obligatory website should incur less hits than SoylentNews and therefore an upper bound for costs can be established for a volunteer effort. Essentially, it should be possible to run a union from donations of US$3000 per year or significantly less. Indeed, the major cost to members would be food and drink expenses when informally meeting other members.

So who wants to join a computer professional union with sensible fees and obligations?

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:43AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:43AM (#534104)

    As an admin, I have worked in union-driven environments.

    I have been in large utilities, manufacturing firms, and other unionised environments.

    I have never seen a union that struck me as worth the bother. However, I have seen union stewards violate the law with impunity, I have seen open abuse of non-union personnel (again, with impunity), I have seen flagrant misappropriation of union funds (again, impunity). I have even (although this wasn't universal) seen open mafia activity in concert with the union.

    If, starting tomorrow, every union I come across is scrupulously run, devoted to the welfare of the members, and upright in dealings with all others, in six or so months I might be willing to change my answer.

    But let me be clear: the unions that I have worked with have, without exception, done more to convince me of their undesirability than anything ever said by any management organ. And after decades of this crap, I am very concerned that unions will need to be entirely reinvented to serve their intended purpose once more.

    Footnote: this is in the US. Maybe other countries have it figured out (although my internationally based employers gave me no reason to expect this).

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @05:50PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @05:50PM (#534189)

    the unions that I have worked with

    It doesn't sound at all like you "worked with" the union.
    It sounds like you laid back and let things happen.

    ...and if you don't like what the union officers are doing, VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT.
    (If your ideas are so much better than what's happening, it should be a cinch to get yourself elected.)

    I have never seen a union that struck me as worth the bother

    ...because standing alone against management and their advisors and their lawyers makes so much more sense than a unified opposition with aggregated funds to fight back. /sarc

    -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:16PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:16PM (#534200)

      So GPP should have voted against the mob's chosen stewards, and run against the mob's chosen stewards... and this would make his life better, more comfortable and longer how? Your ideas fascinate me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Oh, and when the aggregated funds are split between mobsters and the democratic office of Clintonia, I'm sure that money will be dedicated to the welfare of the worker on the line. Hah!

      Go look for suckers elsewhere, gewg. Try middle school.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @06:32PM (#534203)

        The binary world inside your head is boring.
        It seems to indicate a limited intellect.

        -- OriginalOwner_ []

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @03:49AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @03:49AM (#534328)

        your argument goes from "unions bad" to "unions baaaaaaaaad" try to join next time and if it sucks, maybe the next one won't

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @05:51PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02 2017, @05:51PM (#534190)

    Obviously, Cafebabe shouldn't have used the trigger word “union.” (OMG unions! Fees! Corruption!… hmm… gonna have to work on that one.)

    Doctors are licensed and have the AMA. Lawyers are licensed and have state bar associations. These aren't blue-collar people. We aren't blue-collar people. The knowledge we need to do what we do is comparable to a doctor or lawyer. I've personally seen more than enough times that it is simply not possible for somebody to go “I wanna be a programmer!” who has been convinced by the media (especially when management has likewise been convinced by the media) that all they need is an hour of code to be able to do what I do and succeed.

    A professional association is what we need to establish to the public that we are experts with years and decades of experience, and that somebody cannot expect to be at the skill level of most here after an hour of code—they themselves will need years and decades of experience themselves. I also feel that for the person who does go “I wanna be a programmer!” but actually has some dedication, having a clear image in the public eye that gaining proficiency at what we do takes years and decades will help them understand just how dedicated they must be.

    Of course, the minute we create something like that, the media will begin lobbing nukes our way. The misogynerd narrative will go absolutely fucking nuts, because like fucking shit anybody can make the cisfemale programmers precipitate out of the æther if I can't. We have to be prepared for it and stand firm. We have to absolutely dispel the notion that there's some secret that all assigned males, in a global conspiracy involving 3.5 billion people acting as a hive mind, that we refuse to reveal to cisfemales because we just “hate women.”

    …we do have one nuke we can lob back at the media. I'm not the only very talented (and good looking!) trans woman out there. (Brianna Wu doesn't count, especially since she seems to have completed some kind of magickal ritual to become cisgendered.) Forcing the media to recognize that trans women do just fine in our field ought to cause them to attempt to divide by zero in an “ohshi—” moment. I suspect they'll side with TERFs, but that leaves them wide open. What other field can point to a profusion of trans people in their ranks?

    Eh, but what the fuck am I thinking. It'll never happen. Sooooo many reasons it'll never happen. Good luck, misogynerds!

    • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Sunday July 02 2017, @09:46PM (1 child)

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Sunday July 02 2017, @09:46PM (#534262)

      Your first three paragraphs were spot on and had you stopped there your post would probably be modified +5 insightful or such by now. After that you wandered off into some sort of confused rant that seems to reveal some deep personal issues or something. Hopefully you feel better having gotten that off your chest.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @03:08PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @03:08PM (#534450)

        That's the part where he admitted some support for unions as a concept and it triggered you.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by ledow on Monday July 03 2017, @09:11AM (1 child)

    by ledow (5567) on Monday July 03 2017, @09:11AM (#534384) Homepage

    Unions are a way to pay someone to fight your battles for you.

    I don't understand that. If I have a genuine grievance, pretty much anyone professional will help me fight that battle - from outside agencies to lawyers to the relevant ombudsman. Sure, maybe the union has more resources, but I'm paying for those resources - on average - anyway. The average benefit from a union will be less than - or at most equal to - the contributions anyway, or it wouldn't be able to operate.

    I find that a union is the same as any other large corporate entity. Wrapped up in red tape, more worried about bottom-line appeasement than my cause, and subject to the same administrative overhead necessary to get out of helping those it should be helping.

    To be honest, I have also had any number of discussions with employers along the lines of: I negotiate my own pay and conditions. I don't just accept whatever the union accepts. I end up with the same - or greater - benefits without having to pay union fees or generate problems for my employers.

    Unions often operate on the "all members equal" policies - where one employee at a certain level should be earning no more than another employee elsewhere at the same level. I disagree immensely with that and such a policy would have cost me nearly 1/3rd of my current salary over the years. I'm often operating on an unofficial "don't tell the others" policy with regards to my pay because of it. If the unions get wind, they will demand that for everyone, including the idiot that can barely do his job but they can't get rid of "because he's union and it would be too expensive".

    And I work in schools. Almost every teacher is a member of one union or the other. I steer clear of such things. I don't see how it's prudent to lump everyone into a box and negotiate wholesale unless you are operating below-average anyway. And if you think you need a union to represent your interests against your employer, in legal or ethical terms, then really you need a new workplace, not a union.

    To me, unions are the antithesis of finding the middle ground. They are either far too powerful (e.g. London transport worker unions who strike more days every year than I get holiday allowance), or completely powerless. And I end up doing a much better job myself, including through some quite serious employment disputes and pay. I have reported my employers to relevant government departments before now who invoked their wrath upon an employer (when they were clearly doing illegal or highly dubious things), resulting in replacement of the entire management team. At no point did I need a union. And worst case, I would have just hired a lawyer.

    Either you're in the right, or it's not worth the effort to chase. A union can't change that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @09:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03 2017, @09:36AM (#534392)

      Unions are a way to pay someone to fight your battles for you.

      That may be what unions devolved to, but it is not what unions originally were about. Unions were not supposed to be organizations providing a service to the workers, but the union were supposed to be the workers. Basically, in the original idea, it's what you get if workers unite to fight together instead of against each other (guess where the word originates from!).

      Of course, like any sort of organization (note the origin of that word, too) it is prone to bureaucratisation and becoming a separate entity.