I would be interesteed in your thoughts on something:

Why is unionizing in IT so difficult? What can we do to facilitate it?

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@andrej I would be happy to join a union, but its tricky cause I work remote. I live in Spain while my company is in France. So far I dont know any union that would cover this (admittedly I havent looked very closely).

@felix @andrej always the country which issues the law for the work contract. and yes, remote unions are not established yet and freelancers coops are a minority in most countries.

@syndikalista Yeah, the language barrier would make that difficult. And if I change jobs at some point and work for a company in a different country, I have to switch unions as well.


@andrej As someone who works in IT in the UK, Iโ€™d say... pay is still relatively good, and past high demand for skills has created a culture where people prefer moving on to fighting for a better deal where they are. A mobile workforce makes for less solidarity, and existing unions here are usual sector-specific rather than job-specific, which makes them invisible to most IT workers.

@andrej Where I do see interest in unions, itโ€™s from workers who tend to stick to one sector - the games industry, government, or my own university sector.

@bugbear @andrej Theyโ€™re starting to, yes, but itโ€™s still a grassroots thing as far as I know. (Not that thatโ€™s a bad thing - the established unions can be complacent and donโ€™t pay much attention outside their existing core membership.)

@andrej Part of it I think is because there's a lot of subcontracting. In the automotive industry I remember there was often multiple layers of outsourcing for producing the software and although this created logistical chaos it must also have been good at keeping workers compartmentalized and interchangable.

As described in the book Cyber-Proletariat the hacker occupies an ambiguous location in the class structure. Startups are embedded in the world of Capital but the contended category of "Real Hacker" usually comes from the lumpen rather than the middle classes. Survival in the underclass requires the kind of continuously innovative approach which Capital can then easily appropriate.

But I think things are changing beyond the Cyber-Proletariat narrative and software work is becoming a lot more proletarianized, which brings more possibilities for unionizing.

@bob @andrej Another aspect IMO is programmers thinking they're too smart to need a union. A narrative that has been happily exploited by owners.

@andrej I was in a union as a mold maker. While I do believe unions are necessary in some professions, I also think they have a tendency to have ridiculous rules. For example, one time my machine was broken so I was waiting for it to be fixed and started cleaning up my work area. Shop steward came over and told me to stop because that wasn't my job.

Another time, my work table shifted 2 inches so I couldn't slide the part. I was reprimanded for moving it nyself. That's an iron hauler's job.

@andrej Been a contracted programmer in a union shop. I noticed things like bugs not being fixed because they were easy to fix and if you got called after hours to spend 5 minutes fixing an abend, you still got paid for 4 hours.

I do think companies will abuse workers if allowed.Unions can help.

I think the reason is people think IT workers are in position to negotiate better working conditions or leave.

I'd join a union but I would fight bad actions by the union as well as the company.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej Indeed. We must learn from history. There may be a bargaining collective structure that works, but the union is not that, as we can *clearly* see from history.

โ€œNot your job,โ€ is just the tip of the iceberg with unions. And every single union Iโ€™ve seen does not stop until it becomes a mob, at which point incentive to be reasonable stops.

Eventually they hurt more than help, driving hosts to bankruptcy and putting the whole group out of work. ๐Ÿ˜

@andrej @Jason_Dodd Planet Earth. You?

Like, wow. Didnโ€™t feel like following up, so youโ€™d rather search for ad-hominem fodder. Real mature, that. Forget I said anything.

@SuperFloppies @Jason_Dodd Why ad hominem? o_O I simply try to place the different comments where they are from as it seems like there is a lot of culture influence on it.
This is not meant to be an attack on you at all. I asked that many of the people that commented. Look it up.

@andrej @SuperFloppies I've lived in a lot of places around the world but for the most past, I feel the midwest US is where I'm from.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I do'n't agree with that. I think they can hurt more than they help but I think both of those unions helped more than they hurt. Actually, IT union shop is the only one I've seen in my 25 years in the industry which actually had good work/live balance across the company because of the union.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I do think that some unions don't do they job they should. In my mind the solution in those cases is better laws on the treatment of workers. It's seems that normally people who are against unions are also against laws which protect the worker, too.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej Not at all. But I have seen firsthand the damage a union with its heels dug in can and will do. Nobody is protected when the business theyโ€™re working for goes bankrupt or gives up and begins importing rather than manufacturing locally.

Then everyone loses. Plain and simple. Hungry is hungry. And young children do not care why they are hungry; they just know they are hungry.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I'd argue that those are things to correct in unions. Not reasons to not unionize.

I also believe that the lack of unions is contributing factor the the decline in wages.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej Reasons for cooperatives, sure. Not unions.

Unions are an improvement over what came before them. But they should have been replaced with at-par systems that work decades ago.

As long as workers forget that an employer without employees is also without power, they will continue to band together in suboptimal ways. Ways that are capable of, and have, caused great economic harms to those they claim to protect, or those that the protected serve.

@SuperFloppies @andrej A rose by any name.

Your argument reminds me(not the same I know, of the people who argue a cap on a CEO's salary relative to the least paid employee would fail because the CEO wouldn't strive if he only made 200 times that workers salary. Which is total bs.

While unions might not be the answer, cooperatives surely isn't. They're too weak. You might argue that's something you can fix with coops Sure, and the flaws with unions could be fixed, too.

@SuperFloppies @andrej

I think the real answer is neither, but firm laws on the treatment of workers.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej Well, to each their own. I am not one for more regulation.

Instead, I wish people would realize their own power and not need to rely on crutches, such as unions and government, to do their dirty work for them.

Last time Iโ€™ll say it: An employer without employees is without power.

A business owner will, when unbound by ethics or resistance, get away with whatever it can. But, so will any person. This is basic economics and psychology.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I'm in line with that as a principal. However, I think it has no chance in practice.
For starters companies always have an incentive t cut corners or flat out break laws and risk their workers health and well being.

And too often the people that would band together can't because they need the job and the laws are not such that the can afford the time it would take to stand their ground even if they are strong enough.

@SuperFloppies @andrej It's easy to stand on principle when you have enough resources to do so. It's not so easy when you don't.

And, unfortunately, it appears the financial gap, and thus power gap, is spiraling out of control so that the ability to stand one's groung diminishes day by day for most workers.

regulation with teeth is, i'm afraid, the only solution with a shot at success.

I could be wrong but frankly I'm at the end of my 'trust the company' rope.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej It is not what it easy that defines us. The right thing is often not easy. But the right thing is the right thing, and so for me that makes the decision.

Also, just as people need to be judged individually, so do businesses. There are good people running big-dollar businesses who go far out of their way to take care of their employees and their customers and/or clients, all over the country and likely even the globe. Take the time to find one!

@SuperFloppies @andrej I agree. The right thing is the right thing. And the right thing is to pass more laws that protect the rights of people, workers being the people pertinent in this conversation.

The wrong thing is for the state not to pass laws protecting the weakest amongst us.

@SuperFloppies @andrej In the US we happen to be repealing many such laws and regulations we only recently managed to implement.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej Disagree. Laws donโ€™t change things. If you ban guns, people will still get them and use them. If you ban discrimination, it will still occur. Particularly in our modern, self-proclaimed โ€œenlightenedโ€, โ€œhumaneโ€ society that thinks a small financial punishment or some weeks or months in jail is going to be an effective deterrent. Jails are already overpacked and costing taxpayers a fortune that could be used to solve social issues instead.

@SuperFloppies @andrej My general feeling about all such social issues is of late, I'm tired of the position that we can't try for what we really think will help. We have to try for what we think will pass.

I say it's high time we face the ruling powers and demand fair treatment. I used to think that meant we'd be given an unfair advantage. But every day there is more evidence that the truth is the ruling class has the unfair advantage. Enough already.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej I get it. But that makes knowing the big picture that much more important, I think.

People will always be people, and most people suck.

So will most things run by people.

That can never change, so long as there are people, and so long as those people choose to believe they are powerless to their circumstances and environments.

@SuperFloppies @andrej That's all true but we have an obligation to regulate the areas the rich and powerful are currently using to abuse the not powerful.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I'm a big fan of change my view. So how about this?

You tell me a law or regulatation that is harmful to the companies and should be repealed or maybe implemented to be more fair to the company. and i'll do he same but for the worker.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 1/11: Iโ€™m not a persuasive type, so if youโ€™re looking for that, itโ€™s unlikely to happen. I analyze based on information, not the source or its persuasiveness.

Additionally, itโ€™s rather a complicated topic; there are multiple types of businesses, under different laws and regulations, and furthermore field-specific laws and regulations which merit their own consideration. This is true both on the side of a business and the side of an employee.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 2/11: Also, I cannot see a meaningful separation between a business and its employees: without employees, you have nothing more than an empty shell. Employees share responsibility for the things they do as part of their work for the business, and we know from formal logic that an inanimate entity cannot be โ€œgoodโ€ or โ€œbadโ€, which means that the goodness or badness of the business is more or less the sum of all of its employees, management, and ownership.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 3/11: Comparing โ€œharm to an entityโ€ against โ€œharm to an individualโ€ is also difficult to do meaningfully, since while the most either an individual or an entity can suffer is discontinuation, that notion means different things entirely.The discontinuation of an entity simply frees up the individuals comprising that entity to create a new entity.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 4/11: So for an entity, "death" both is and isn't the end. It is the end of an instance, or an iteration, but not necessarily the "business" in terms of the people who run it. It is therefore much more difficult to make a fair comparison; itโ€™s more or less inherently apples-and-oranges.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 5/11: All that having been said, we live in an environment where Iโ€™d be hard-pressed to find a single โ€œlaw or regulation that is harmful to companiesโ€, because the ugly truth is that it is cooperating systems of laws and regulations which cause harm both to individuals and to entities, and not limited to those within the circle of the business/company/org or its employees.

Closest that I can come is to invoke a single coherent system of law or regulation set to a particular purpose.

@Jason_Dodd @andrej 6/11: To that end, I choose the one system that negatively impacts *both* entities and individuals, and that system is the Federal tax code.

Itโ€™s pretty easy to see how it is harmful to an entity, in particular a small one: the tax code is so complex that there is literally not a single human alive who understands the entirety of it. That means itโ€™s also unreasonable to expect a small business to understand all the possible deductions.

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@SuperFloppies @andrej This interesting and perhaps a key viewpoint I hadn't considered regarding this subject. That is not being to separate a company from it's constituent people. I think that might be the crux of the matter.

In my view it's essential to separate them. Moreover that since companies aren't people and people are, The laws should favor protecting the people over protecting the company. And, of course, I think more regulation is needed. But that's for later discussion.

@SuperFloppies @andrej Agreed. It doesn't make sense to compare them in most ways. Companies are not people ahd harm to each should be considered as separate. Which is one of the issues here in the US. The courts have ruled that companies are people. One of the legal changes I'm claiming is essential.

I do not think it's essential that bad acting companies endure.Regulation preventing growing too big to fail seems essential, too.

@SuperFloppies @andrej I think how you describe this relationship is true when the the pay gap between senior executives/owners and lower paid worker. It also helps if the salary of the lowest paid workers is enough to maintain a decent household.

However, when the pay gap is so high and the pay of the lowest paid workers isn't enough to sustain a decent household, the workers do not have the resources to push back when leadership abuses.

More regulation is needed to provide that support.

@SuperFloppies @andrej It is complicated. What I tend to do when something is complicated is try to decide on where it makes sense to start.

In this case it's regulation, unions, or coops. Since my going in position is a combination is needed but regulation is absolutely required, I figured ruling out regulation as being needed would be a good place to start. Especially since you disagree. You might have points I hadn't considered and can help me see what I'm missing.

@andrej This not to mention the worse thing. We got paid bonus if we produced more parts then the quota. I ran the machined during one of the time studies where the set the quota. The union steward adjusted the knobs on my machine so they read 100% when they were running at 80% and warned me not to say anything. The guy doing the study was either in on it or was an idiot.

That was the first good job I had and I was young. Today I would not have done that. But then I really needed the job.

Because 1/2 the people I work with are maga Chuds and the other half are libertarians. Jokes on them when they get outsourced

That was really weird timing but a few weeks ago I "joked" about unionizing in 3 hours after we all got sent an invite with only a location and some chud who I strongly suspect is a Nazi pulled the "we killed communist not long ago". Someone else also joked saying whats the point since they dont smoke.

@andrej my opinion: supply and demand. Right now there are too many people qualified and willing to work non-unionised. In the US itโ€™s often easy to fire people who talk about unionising before they become effective. India is probably similar. You need people willing to take the risk of getting both fired and blackballed to start a union. Sympathetic as i am to unions, Iโ€™m not ready to take that personal risk to form/support one.

@andrej Because there's always some outfit in Delhi willing to step in and replace you while you're on strike that's why.

@andrej Coders are ten a penny. University's are swamped with people taking Computer Sciences degrees.

If I didn't hate polls so much I'd prove it to you. How many people On Mastodon code? I suspect three quarters and that's just Mastodon let alone all the other Social media sites.

@dick_turpin Okay. (Not sure how it relates to organizing. I would see that actually as a reason to organize more.)

@andrej It relates in terms of "You're wasting your time."

@dick_turpin I still can\t see your argument here. Sorry. Maybe I am bit slow.
As i understand you, you are saying, organizing becomes futile when the labour is too value is low (which is in my experience doesn't ring true). So wouldn't that indicate that you should organize right now then?

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