The San Francisco Chronicle reports
A San Francisco technology company laid off a group of software engineers as they were trying to join a labor union, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
The Communications Workers of America [CWA] claims Lanetix, which makes cloud-based software for transportation and logistics companies, violated federal labor laws by cutting 14 software engineers in January in San Francisco and Arlington, Va.
Most of the engineers were fired [January 26], about 10 days after they filed a petition seeking union representation, according to the complaint filed by the CWA's Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. A hearing to determine a date to hold the union vote was scheduled for [February 1].
[...] While unions have made inroads in representing Silicon Valley bus drivers, security officers, food service workers, and custodians, the Lanetix case could break new ground because union activity is still unusual for software engineers, who are generally highly paid and in short supply, labor lawyers said.
[...] there are [reasons other than gripes about pay, whereby] unions can attract higher-paid tech workers, including "if you feel mistreated by the company or if you feel there's favoritism going on or lack of job security", said labor law attorney Steve Hirschfeld, founding partner of Hirschfeld Kraemer of San Francisco.
"There's a myth that if you're a highly paid employee, you either can't join a union or wouldn't be interested", Hirschfeld said.
The Lanetix case is "significant because it is a tech company and they're well-paid engineers", he said. "That's still a rarity today for that group of employees to be organized. (But) the feeling among many tech workers is that they're viewed as being expendable."
[...] The Lanetix engineers signed union cards to join the CWA's Washington-Baltimore News Guild. (The Pacific Media Workers Guild, which represents some San Francisco Chronicle employees, is also affiliated with the CWA.) According to the complaint filed with the board, the union said Lanetix began "threatening and coercing employees" for engaging in union activities starting in November. The complaint said one engineer was fired for participating in group discussions on Slack, an internal messaging service.
The union filed a petition with the board on Jan. 16 to represent the workers. The company terminated "all engineers and senior engineers in retaliation for demanding recognition", the complaint said.
The engineers were called into a meeting and told of layoffs due to the company's lackluster fourth quarter performance, CWA organizer Melinda Fiedler told Bloomberg Law.
"By the time they left that meeting, their computers were gone", Fiedler said.
Cet Parks, executive director of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, said the workers were told the company was moving engineering offices to Europe.
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(Score: 5, Informative) by fyngyrz on Monday March 12 2018, @01:55PM (9 children)
Found the problem with your post.
So, I signed us up to a(nother) computer show in Chicago. We set up a nice booth, nice curved backdrop liberally salted with our software and demo images, a couple computers to live demo, a couple of technically sophisticated lovelies, and were all ready to go, except one of the bulbs on the backdrop was burned out. This not being our first rodeo, we had brought spares. As I was reaching up to unscrew the bad bulb, a fellow approached from the floor and told me to stop what I was doing. He then informed me that as replacing the bulb was an "electrical task", one of the union electricians would have to do it, and the fee would be a one-hour minimum, which was $75 at the time. I gave him some argument, because (obviously) this didn't require an electrician, but he insisted, and in fact said that if we would not comply, we would be removed from the show. So I capitulated; but we never went back to Chicago, and I try to find the time to recount this... adventure... whenever someone tries to paint unions in a positive light.
I also led a life as a rock musician for a while; played a lot of bars, etc. I have lots of union stories from those times, too. None of them good.
My middle kid is an engineer (train driver) with Burlington Northern. He's a union member. He has absolutely nothing good to say about their union, either.
A good friend here works for the local telephone co-operative in the field, basically deals with POTS and Internet service issues. His anecdotes of what their union does are not encouraging.
My general feeling – gained entirely from my own direct, personal experience, and that of those people I know well – is that unions are inherently of a nature that tends to make them corrupt on the one hand, and leads them towards using inappropriate leverage (often compounded by being for the wrong reasons) on the other. I'm reasonably sure there are exceptions, but in my 60 years, I've never personally run into one, which I find somewhat chilling.
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12 2018, @03:43PM (1 child)
For your one story about shitty unions. Which I have heard before, not sure if that means chicago trade shows are a disaster or you're repeating something someone told you. For this one story I won't make it to the end of my day without encountering someone who is getting absolutely shit on by their crap work while the money rolls in.
(Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Monday March 12 2018, @06:16PM
I can assure you that is my own story, about my own company.
It is not, however, the first time I have told it.
(Score: 3, Insightful) by remoteshell on Monday March 12 2018, @03:59PM
I was a grad student with the CompSci department teaching assembler language, and joined the union. I got a job offer with the Clinical Psychology department to build human physiological instrumentation.
My department head told me I couldn't take the Clin Psych job, because I could only work for one department according to a rule that he probably made up.
I said "tell it to the union rep", and he backed down.
Oh, and there were actual women in the Clin Psych department.
Of course, in private industry, I never once saw management with arbitrary demands and restrictions, so unions are irrelevant there ;-)
(Score: 2) by hoeferbe on Monday March 12 2018, @04:33PM
A similar thing happened to me at a Detroit trade show back in the late 1990s. We were not allowed to plug our 3 desktop/workstation computers into the power outlets provided by the convention center since we were not electricians.
If I recall correctly, we had to note how much power we'd need in the booth & what kind of equipment we were bringing when we rented the space from the convention center. We had to sit around twiddling our thumbs for about an hour while waiting for a `qualified` union member to come by and plug our computers in for us. Did he check to make sure the computers would draw only the power we had requested? Nope. Just reached down, plugged our powerstrips into the wall and collected his fee.
(Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday March 12 2018, @04:34PM
FYI . . . I remember similar union stories from MacWorld trade shows in the late 1980's early 1990's. The show was held in both Boston and San Francisco. In this case, it wasn't about a light bulb, but about moving some largish container from one spot to another.
Roll models predict friction of different each type of bareing.
(Score: 2) by Gaaark on Monday March 12 2018, @04:57PM (1 child)
Unions need to be intelligent and work with management (and management needs to be intelligent and work with its employees so they DON'T need a union, or work WITH the union if there is one).
My story is of a Jamaican man in a union, delivering products (I heard this from one of his disgusted co-workers). He did some of his deliveries, then stopped at his girlfriend's (on company time) for some shtupping.
This delayed his deliveries until he was in overtime.
The company had someone follow him and take note of why he was consistently getting overtime and BAM, got caught and was fired.
The union fought it because it was 'racism' and he was reinstated.
What the union SHOULD have said was "Yup! He's GONE...but someone has to be hired to replace him." And then they should reinforce to the union members that STUPIDITY will not be tolerated.
Unions WERE VERY important in the past, but STUPIDITY has made them a joke (reminds me of that BBC show On the Buses.)
Unions need to go back to intelligence and relevance.
--- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
(Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12 2018, @05:51PM
Protip: unions have been on the side of the capitalist ruling elite for some time now. The function they serve to the ruling elite is to intimidate workers to prevent them from striking and to force workers to accept shit deals.
http://www.wsws.org/ [wsws.org] has been covering this for a few weeks now.
This is the reason for all those union horror stories above. The unions are trying to give unions a bad name, because the ruling elite knows that workers organizing is very bad for their sociopathic bottom line. These "unions" do not represent workers.
The workers need to organize independently of these so-called "unions." The price of not having the ruling elite's boot stamping on your face forever is eternal vigilance.
(Score: 2) by Snotnose on Monday March 12 2018, @05:49PM (1 child)
Similar story for a Bay area trade show in the 80s. We needed a couple power strips cuz we had a dozen things to plug in and only 2 outlets. We were plugging everything in when a guy comes over and told us to stop, a union guy had to do that. Boss argued a bit, we eventually let the union guy do it.
Never went to another trade show in the Bay area. Except for Siggraph, but my company didn't participate.
Relationship status: Available for curbside pickup.
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13 2018, @01:39AM
And what are the chances these draconian turf wars came about because of management's continual attempts to get more and more tasks classified as non-union. I'm sure it rounds to 0%, right?