For the past 9 years I have been an IT consultant (great title for hired gun) in very unionised environments, particularly governments. I agree with Patrick, this has fostered non performance and fear cultures, particularly when twice yearly salary increases are automated whether you perform or not. As a professional project manager (with many qualifications and member of standards boards in Australia and keeping my skills up with continual eduction), I have broken my head a lot of times in those sorts of client cultures as you can't make any change without the public services unions crying foul and holding the governments to ransom. So I can see the dark side of unionism.
On the other hand, I worked for a large tier 1 for 10 years, with significant salary gaps between male and female employees, no paid overtime, and architected redundancies (whole business units being transferred on paper to organisations without funding streams) so I can also understand the powerlessness some people feel. I have worked my way around that by being my own boss and CIO and CEO and chief bottle washer.
A lot of large ones get contract labor like myself in as they do not have the skills, a lot of the hired guns in my town are ex Tier ones, very experienced people who do not want to be part of the corporate treadmill anymore. That is not for everyone or at a stage of life where you have a family, although I know a lot of contractors who do have families. It is about choice, and I like choice.
Several years ago when said Tier one started to make masses of people redundant, employees were encouraged to join a professional association, there are no real IT unions in Oz, unless you are in call centres as that is governed by different awards and services union structures. Said Tier one crapped its pants, but when push came to shove, the professional association was a toothless tiger and so there was no benefit at all.
From a standards perspective, I share concerns about university degrees. I have seen kids coming from uni with masters in several computer sciences disciplines with not an iota of a clue. And I have hired musicians with adult education diplomas that were guns. I have a law background and I have to work much harder to keep myself up to date, particularly in the Project Management space where your disciplines need to cater for new technologies, agile apps development, enterprise architecture and cloud. I have had to show my credentials several times, but reputation, track record and references are in my view much better evidence than pieces of paper. I know of very qualified project and program managers I wouldn't let near managing the folding of a paper bag.
The thing is, all jobs and roles have life cycles - out of some you may get 5 years, and some may be 25 year roles before you need to retrain or educate yourself. Technologies change rapidly, well some do, but there are still Cobol and Objectstar shops around.
I do not support the position that unions foster better workenvironments, the government departments I work with are a prime example. Negative, stale, no change, wasteful processes, more people than sense, no performance management, bullies. That is a direct flow on effect of unions. Unions are very tribal still, I know an Indian guy who wanted to join a builders union as an organiser, the crap he copped from the Irish and Scottish union officials is outrageous. Sometimes unions have a self fulfilling prophecy way of thinking - employer always wrong, employee always right. I have seen folks get away with murder.
So I am on the fence, with a propensity to support Patrick.
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