Tech & Work

Unionization? Not for these IT pros

Although unions are designed to form a collective voice for the rights of workers, many TechRepublic members believe that unions fall short of achieving this objective. Read ahead and find out why some IT pros would decline offers to join a union.


Recently, we asked TechRepublic members whether they would join an IT union if one existed. Out of the 725 members who responded to our poll, 60 percent said that they would not join a union. Although unions are touted by many as an effective way to form a collective voice for the rights of workers, the CIO community mailbox here at TechRepublic proves that many IT pros are unconvinced. This selection of member mail highlights reasons why some technology workers would forego unionization.

When slackers excel
Although one of the fundamental goals of unions is to create equality and promise fairness for workers in a trade, many believe that unions miss the mark when it comes to fostering such an environment. CEO Gregory Hensley once belonged to a union and confesses that the experience was unpleasant at best.

In Hensley’s opinion, unqualified and undeserving people were being promoted and rewarded solely because of either seniority within the organization or union rules. “The hardest work I did was still judged by the laziest coworkers. I could not excel [because] the ‘everyone’s equal’ foolishness held me and other high performers back.”

Seniority is a sign of status in union environments that, according to Hensley, ignores an individual’s capability to perform in a job and hindered his progress in the organization. Despite an employee’s education, professional training, or experience, Hensley said, he or she would be passed over for someone less qualified based solely on the fact that the other person had been at the job longer.

David J. Marcovitz, a CIO and vice president in Cleveland, OH, also believes that unions diminish an individual’s potential and ambition in an organization. “[Unions] protect the slackers and take away the idea of individual achievement. This is eroding the American workforce….”

Some believe that the IT field is already wrought with underqualified employees. Unionization, according to John Trumbull, will just make the IT labor pool worse. Trumbull said that “a union could be the death knell to [a company’s] efficiency and proficiency” because the company would potentially be forced to hire or keep lesser-qualified workers on the job simply because of union rules.

A call for better management
Part of the appeal of unions is the collective voice that workers gain by joining. If an employee feels that his or her needs or concerns are being ignored, the union carries more clout in sending a message to the powers that be. However, some members believe that improvements in management would be a much better alternative to unionization.

TechRepublic member Carlos Usera believes that managers should “motivate, inspire, and counsel their subordinates,” and if there’s talk of unionization among employees, then management must be falling short in these areas.

Similarly, Lee Dickey writes that good management makes unionization a nonissue for employees. For Dickey, a manager should be “mature, compassionate, and enlightened” and be an advocate for his or her staff. If these qualities were present, along with fair compensation, Dickey asked, why would an employee choose to endure “long union meetings, adversarial discussions, and routine dues?”
These IT professionals see little need for unionization in the IT field. Do you agree with their opinions? Start a discussion and share your thoughts on the issue.

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