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Nearly Half Of IT Pros Would Consider Joining A Union

Nearly half of the nation's IT specialists would consider joining an IT union, according to a recent online poll by TechRepublic. Of those IT pros participating, 45 percent would join a union.
Drew Douglas or Liz WarinCorporate Technology Communications(312) 832-9300ddouglas@ctcomm.comlwarin@ctcomm.com
TechRepublic Poll Finds Surprisingly Strong Support for Representation
LOUISVILLE, Ky., January 22, 2001—Nearly half of the nation’s Information Technology specialists would consider joining an IT union, according to a recent online poll by TechRepublic (www.techrepublic.com), the leading online destination developed exclusively for IT professionals by IT professionals. Of those IT pros participating in the poll, a surprising 45 percent of respondents—significantly more than expected—said they would join a technology workers union if one existed.

Typically considered too independent to formally organize, the results suggest IT pros may be beginning to realize the potential power of collective bargaining. It is likely, based on the poll results, that entry-level IT workers are more interested in organizing than are higher-level workers like programmers. TechRepublic plans to conduct follow-up polls to further determine attitudes and differences in the IT workforce.

"Organized labor sees a real opportunity to introduce IT services professionals to the power of collective bargaining for issues such as fair wages for all New Economy employees, H1-B visas, and job security," said Ted Smith, vice president of community research at TechRepublic. “With an increasing amount of entry-level IT work moving offshore, I wouldn't be surprised to see the first significant union of IT workers in the next three years."

There has been much debate recently as to whether IT workers will be among the next group of workers to unionize. IT is the fastest-growing segment of the economy, accounting for 8 percent of U.S. employment and one-third of U.S. economic growth. And now many IT workers are looking for organized representation.

"I feel that an employee-protection organization (like a union) could address and hopefully remedy problems such as IT pros' lack of company loyalty, technological emergencies for which IT pros are inappropriately blamed, and the lack of experienced IT pros in the workplace," said Mark Chiampi, MIS systems specialist for Polk County, FL, public schools and a TechRepublic member.

By contrast, organizations such as the National Association of Computer Consulting Businesses (NACCB) point to the significant bargaining power of individuals in IT compared with workers in other service occupations.

"If I didn't like the way I was being treated, I would first try to resolve the issues with my employer," said TechRepublic member Mike Sullivan, senior systems manager at Merge Computer Group, Inc. "If I was unsuccessful, I would leave."

For further discussions on this and other IT-related issues, log on to the TechRepublic site at http://www.techrepublic.com.

About TechRepublic
TechRepublic is the leading online decision-support company developed exclusively for IT professionals by IT professionals. It was acquired by Gartner Group, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB) in March 2000. With the Gartner relationship, TechRepublic provides its members with the largest and most comprehensive source of IT community, content, and research available anywhere. In August 2000, TechRepublic acquired ITRadar, the leading IT marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of Information Technology services. TechRepublic’s services include IT industry news, analysis, columns, articles, downloads, career-management tips, forums, a job directory, a peer directory, a vendor directory, auctions, e-commerce offerings, event listings, and electronic newsletters.

Content on TechRepublic.com is categorized by IT job segments. CIO Republic provides analysis and insight for an organization’s chief information officer, chief technology officer, and other IT executives; IT Consultant Republic features content specifically tailored to today’s IT consultant; IT Manager Republic provides information and resources for IT managers; Support Republic’s solutions assist help desk professionals; and NetAdmin Republic features content written specifically for network administrators.
47 comments
jkameleon
jkameleon

The field is just too diverse. The expertise goes from art and craftmanship to engineering, from quantum mechanics and information theory, to psychology and practical philosophy. Skill levels range from plugging cables and and answering phones, to PhD stuff. There is no way to put all this into one union. Hell, even the field in the are I'm working in, application development, is too diverse for unionizing.

jck
jck

If you wanted to start off with an IT union, here could be your 2 highest subsets of IT: - Hardware professionals - Software professionals QED.

jkameleon
jkameleon

No way I'm going to unionize with other software professionals. Most of them are losers.

jck
jck

I'm another one of those software professionals. See if I let you in if I go become a union leader somewhere!!! :p :^0

jkameleon
jkameleon

... and that's another reason I'm not going to unionize with them. :D

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

...probably feel the same as you! ;)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If I wanted to print a program out and the toner ran out, should I just do it or wait for Comrade Nikolai..... I wouldn't want to jeopardise a brother's livelihood by making him look unncessary.... :p

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

back in my data entry days. One of out jobs was to print a load of reports onto music rule, the use a copier to reduce it to A4, then copy that for every bugger who wanted to look important. Unfortunately the copier broke, so my colleague took it on himself to fix it. He was sat on the floor with about 200 pieces round him sweating (him not them). Bearing in mind back then the thing cost about a years salary, I was forced to cite that it wasn't my job and leave him too it. The only time I've ever said that.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Why? It's in the operator manual, not the maintenance manual. :p

jck
jck

Do you want to meet a deadline, or be a stickler? You could always call in a request, do it yourself, get the printout, turn it in, then when the tech gets there let him take credit. And, most places I have worked, the changing of toner is usually the responsibility of office staff...or a maintenance firm. Not the computer techs. I'm sure he wouldn't want to make you look unnecessary by telling your boss about the code farms in India either. :p :^0

jdclyde
jdclyde

Amazing how someone takes a negative and paints it as a positive. I would HATE to be in a union shop again. A GOOD worker is held back by unions, not protected, as updates get handed to the person who has been punching a clock the longest, not who is the best person for the job. If you are lazy, union is the life for you.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

turned into. They were set up to protect workers from management explotation, all they ended up doing was being the middleman in that transaction and getting us to pay for the privilege. Who's the last person to suffer from management the, shop steward. Who's the most active in promoting the union, the shop steward. When unions were originally set up being the leader / spokesperson was bad for your health not a sinecure. The Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers was a union, most modern ones are at best parasites.

jdclyde
jdclyde

I was low seniority, but found that the steward has super seniority when it comes to lay-offs. The company didn't like it, because I was the only non-company steward. The rest were all "good company men". the union didn't like it, because I would tell a lazy phuck they deserved their "ticket". Lets just say, I was a one-term steward.

C F USA
C F USA

in a earlier post. We had a great electrician working with us that had to PAY THE UNION just to work in a Non Union shop. Because he was fresh to the bench so to speak, he was to wait while the union tried to find him work. But if someone else found themself without work, but had worked on the union books longer, then he would be pushed back and have to wait. He ended up paying their "fee" because he still had kids to feed and bills to pay. Great Guy, just...yeah...anyway

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...protection money. Or, at the very least, pay-to-play-politics. I'll take a pass on that!

AV .
AV .

What a difference 8 1/2 years makes! Years ago, you could make out quite nicely with a union job. My brother-in-law worked at GM for 25 years on the line. 10 of those years he was laid off and collecting the same salary for not working. He retired with a pension and full benefits as a young man of 45 and now has another career. What non-union job ever offered anything even close to that kind of benefit package? Those days are over though. After 9/11 and the recession, I'm thankful just to have a job. AV

jdclyde
jdclyde

the stupidity of management that ALLOWED packages like that has a lot to do with the current condition of such companies as GM.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Its a crazy condition in the contract that allows things like that, but negotiations are a two way street and management is responsible as well. I think a big contributing factor was the fact that there was one union and three carmakers, and the union could play one against the other. If GM is this years strike target, they would rather give in than let their competitors continue to build cars while their plants sit idle. I remember hearing the interview with someone who worked for 4 years with GM in the 1960s. She went on to another career. But now in her late 60s, she is still entitled to GM medical benefits, and is of course at her age an active user of those benefits. How does this make sense? James

jdclyde
jdclyde

[i]"the stupidity of management that ALLOWED"[/i] Top to bottom, it was a recipe for failure.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Who the heck was she, the first female President of the US??? ;) Kidding aside, I think you're right about the 'whys' behind the various automakers seemingly caving in to the unions. Couple that with poor management foresight (both in controlling costs as well as product design), and it was a disaster waiting to happen.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

I sometimes wonder if MBA doesn't stand for Master of Banal Asininity. ?:|

C F USA
C F USA

how to take that post. Specifically "10 of those years he was laid off and collecting the same salary for not working" That I have a problem with. Not working, collecting a full salary, then on top of that retiring with a pension and full benefits? Whats wrong with that picture? What I do agree with is "After 9/11 and the recession, I'm thankful just to have a job. " I too am thankful to have a job.

AV .
AV .

Thats what he got as a UAW union member at GM. It was part of his union contract at the time. Now, after the recession, they lessened his retirement benefits, but he still has them. Ever wonder why GM went bankrupt? Its not hard to see why. Unions need to be redefined or they will become a thing of the past. Times are really tough right now for companies and everyone in general. AV

C F USA
C F USA

I just see major problems with it. I have a HUGE problem with someone getting paid for not working. "Its in the contract" HOW DID IT GET IN THE CONTRACT? My problem is there are so many things in the contract that the companies if they should run into a slowturn, can barely survive. And yes, I believe that is what happened to the big 3 in Detroit. They could not cut cost on union contracts. the UAW said "they had sacrificed enough". It is MY personal opinion that they should have been allowed to file bankruptcy (not the bailout/there is a difference) redraw all contracts, lay everyone off, and say, "Ok, here we are, a new company ready to get people working. Yes there will be less pay, less benefits, but at least we will still be open" Then at such a time when a profit is actually being turned again then get some more money out. But to let someone sit on their duff* and get paid for it. *Note: The only way I would be half way ok with this, if he was injured on the job and physically unable to work. Even then, it should be reduced pay. While he was sitting at the house, someone had to do his job. Even at layoffs. Nothing against you AV, just against the system that allowed it.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Unions 'generally' focus on work that requires a specific skill or training that is not found all over the place or workers where specialized training is needed for a specific product. IT is no longer in either category, with almost every other household having a trained MCSE or CISCO engineer etc. in them. If IT were still a sorta unique trade/skill and it was in high demand due to a limited pool of such workers, then yes I could see some form of union being worthy. As it is about as unique as being able to tie your shoes and walk in a straight line, I don't see how protecting the wages, training and respecting seniority in the industry makes any sense.

jck
jck

But from everyone I've ever talked to, the Cisco CCNA or CCIE cert is not even easy to get by a longshot. There are tons of A+ certs out there though. That's why the only cert I ever got was the Novell CNA 4.1. I studied 3 days and finished with enough to pass before I ever got to the end of the question list.

Fregeus
Fregeus

I strongly believe that we are prime for an association of professionals that would regulate and mandate our methods of work, standards and so on and so forth. Nothing to do with salaries or vacation time or things of that nature. I don't know if you have that in the states, but in Canada, to be an engineer, you need to be certified by the order of engineers. Only certified members can be called engineers or do engineering work. They are mandated and regulated in how they work and what they need to do to perform to standards. The big plus I see is that you are no longer at the mercy of the marketing departments of large companies. The order says how things should be. Not some private interest group seeking to make money off our backs. But that's just me. :-) TCB

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Nah, Unions are part of the establishment now. Sinecures for the leadership, and benefits for shop-stewards is about all they are good for. Bt the way I never realised membership of TR made me a professional, should I put it in the professional bodies section of my resume? LMAO

jck
jck

since I sent in the phone pic to TROLOV, I've put on my resume "Contributing Member, TechRepublic, 2009-Present" lol :^0

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

was so I could post to a discussion. That's a contribution, isn't it?

jck
jck

and if you've posted on a regular basis, you could make it "regular contributor" lol

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

I was in a union (a long time ago) when I was a machinist. The dues were more than 10% of my wages and I didn't get any benefit from that. In the two years I was employed by that shop, I only actually worked about 11 months. The rest of the time I was either furloughed or we were in strike. I finally left there for a non-union shop for more money than I had been making PLUS no union fees, no strikes, and all the overtime I wanted. I will NEVER join a union, EVER.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I joined one as a steel worker in 81, it was just the done thing back then in the UK, for non management. In fact there were even unions for middle management. Contribution was about 0.5%. Did I really benefit from it, who can say. But certainly in the UK, all the real battles were won decades before I joined. From 70s onwards mnost of them were lost even when they were made to look like a win. Their time has gone. I'd have to say anyone who wanted to join one now, was just after lowering my salary to improve their's. Got enough problems with employers dumbing the job down to make me look less valuable... 10%, that isn't a union due, that's protection money.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

One of my previous employers had such a bad manager that we considered organizing under a union just to get rid of him. But we had to rethink that because we also knew that becoming a union shop would actually make things worse for us. Today, unions are offering little to the workers who are forced to join the union just to get a job. Many unions have a virtual stranglehold on the industries that the workers represent. I continue to see this every week on my service to the companies. The workers have become complacent and lazy, knowing that it is a complicated process to release any worker that the management deems has broken their rules. I can see no benefit for the IT industry as most hire their workers as salaried exempt and not eligible for a union as they are considered the be part of the management.

jck
jck

[i]I can see no benefit for the IT industry as most hire their workers as salaried exempt and not eligible for a union as they are considered the be part of the management.[/i] For the 4 I talked to, you had to have a supervisory section or departmental title. Team leads, tech leads, senior engineers, senior analysts, etc., were still eligible. Just our IS Supervisor would have been the only one not eligible because he was a direct report to the executive level.

hbdgaf83
hbdgaf83

Have you guys done any survey's on this recently?

bthrow
bthrow

Perhaps first we can push for better laws, and actual ENFORCEMENT of them. Including requiring companies to divulge some info that they're now very tight with.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And I wouldn't join a union without a gun to my head. I don't need a third-party between me and my employer. If I wanted that, I'd work for a temp agency.

jck
jck

If they started offshoring all the IT jobs in your area, you'd wish you had a collective bargaining agreement. Trust me, I know. I got sacked in 2001 in the tech downturn. I had to end up spending my retirement money to pay all the bills, plus took the 20% penalty and the taxes issue. If we'd have been unionized, the reduction in force thing would not have happened. BTW, my company had work I could have done with a week or two of training. My employer just didn't want to pay to send me to training for 1-2 weeks in Dallas. They just wanted all positive cash flow, no expenditures. Pretty typical of the pathetic attitude most companies have nowadays tho. That's why I see a well-formed, well-run union in IT being a good thing.

jck
jck

Unions aren't needed everywhere. But, there are places they are needed. I worked for a county government once, and they were cutting and cutting regular staff benefits, etc. While at the same time, administrators/directors/chiefs pay was going up and their benefits not changing. They were putting it to the masses to give themselves extras. Not a good thing to do to your labor force. But now, they are union there which helped people keep what they had. I think unions do have a purpose where the greed at the top has overrun the principles of proper operations and maangement.

C F USA
C F USA

"I can put an H1B visa person in from India in the USA" Yes, that can be done. US Gov't does it for translators and foreign language instructors. As far as the rest. Here are my problems with Unions: 1. I have personally had to be led into a construction site protected by the police because we were being "stoned" and "bottled" by local union folk who decided that since we were not a union shop, we were garbage. (Just an FYI, we were an open shop with a core of travelers building / remodeling department stores, and we would hire any qualified person union or otherwise) 2. Those who scream "Its not in our contract" No offense, but that is what lead to a lot of companies going overseas to begin with. Being forced to raise retirement benefits for people who have not worked for the company in more than 20 years. 3. Personally witnessing people who were in unions take organized slowdowns because we were 3 weeks ahead of schedule. 4. Personally seeing an electrician have to pay a penalty to the union for working in a open shop instead of waiting on the bench. (He had a wife and 3 kids to support) You also stated "Oh and btw, not all jobs are as simple and clear cut as an assembly line tech in the world. Some people in unions actually have to do more than stand around and put seals around windshields. " Yes, its like everything else. There are some who bust their rear every day, and there are some who sit there and take advantage of the system. There was a place and time for unions. And I am sure that in some instances there still are. That being said, I personally see NO reason to join a union. As stated by someone else, if I wanted to have a middleman, I would work for a temp agency. As far as the reply that unless you are an exec you can't negotiate your terms of employment, that is incorrect. I have negotiated the terms of employment for every job I have had from telemarketing the high level corporate management job. And lastly, try firing someone in a union. As bad if not worse than a corporate employee or state/federal employee with tenure. **edit for additional comments** Stepping off my rant against unions. Remember they are not all bad, but I still would'nt join one.

jck
jck

I can put an H1B visa person in from India in the USA, put the phone support center in India, drive the support request system over the internet, and you sir...are out of work. It isn't that hard. And once the high tech positions are all taken in tech sector, beware of what jobs they will fill next with imported labor. It's shocking what a company in the USA will do to an American to make an extra buck. When it comes to it, I hope you never lose your job to offshoring/imported labor pools. Oh and btw, not all jobs are as simple and clear cut as an assembly line tech in the world. Some people in unions actually have to do more than stand around and put seals around windshields.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"If they started offshoring all the IT jobs in your area, you'd wish you had a collective bargaining agreement." Yeah, and when they have to keep all of us, or determine who to lay off based on seniority and not skill, then the whole shooting match goes under and nobody has a job. Look how close Detroit came. Besides, it's pretty hard to offshore hands-on hardware support. It's possible to outsource it, but that outsourced firm has to get staff from somewhere. As I noted earlier, I don't see much difference between working in a union shop or working for a temp agency. I've worked for a contracted support firm; it can't be much different from those other two. There's still that unnecessary level of administration interfering with my desire to do my job. Battle cry of the Union Rep / Contract Administrator / Temp Agency Supervisor: "That's not in the contract!" Screw that; let me get the job done.

ACGPHX
ACGPHX

With all due respect thats one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. I'm a consultant and have been for 12 years. A union is nothing more than a pack of lawyers who seek to leetch money from you in the guise of working on your behalf. I know this because one of my largest clients is a Union and I see these people first hand regularly. What is it that you think you can't get that a Union representative will provide, Respect? health insurace? paid time off? Set raises? These are all things you can control at the time you agree to work for someone (or some company). I would think a standard scale for wages that reward the inept at the expense of the knowledgeable would be repulsive to IT people. Freedom is one of those things IT work provides. Perhaps I've been in IT too long.

jck
jck

Not all unions are the same. In fact, some unions get pro bono representation from the ACLU and what not. I tried getting a union in where I worked a couple of years ago. It didn't go in and I left, but since then they have unionized. I've thought about going back to work there so I could join a union. Oh and BTW, individual people usually can not negotiate terms of employment with a firm unless at the executive level. As a full-time, exempt employee, you are set in what you get vacation, insurance, and raise wise to fit into a profile with other staff so that there is no liability with a "discriminatory practice" claim. But, I have heard more and more over the years of IT unionizing. I think with all the offshoring and outsourcing of the past decade, more and more IT people have gotten the message that trusting your employer anymore to do what's right isn't a good way to protect your best interests.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]... according to a recent online poll by TechRepublic (www.techrepublic.com), ...[/i]

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