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  • #2316977

    Time for IT to Organize?


    by oldefar ·

    I have stated from time to time that perhaps it is time for IT workers to think about organizing. I ran across this link in the Dallas Morning News today –

    The link is for US workers and is sponsored by the CWA, a US union. However, anyone working in IT who feels they are being exploited should look at this site.

    So what is the answer? Is it time for IT workers to look to unionization? Is there an alternative approach such as cross company and cross border trade guilds that work on behalf of all IT workers? Or do we all simply press on looking out for number one?

    Personally I think the issues go beyond single companies and single countries. The Indian developer pulling work away from the first world developer today will see the Chinese developer pull it from him tomorrow. Work will move tomorrow even easier than today. Call centers, NOCs, data centers, and all aspects of engineering and production are no longer tied by geographic constraints.

    I see no incentive for company management, rewarded by short term profit margins, to take a broader or long term perspective. However, the same technology that makes my job so portable makes every IT worker my peer and coworker. In the end, we are talking about how we, the global IT worker community, makes our livelihoods. That is a sizable community if we make it one.

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    • #2741002

      Open Source Unions?

      by oldefar ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      For reference, look at

      The article is a bit long, but the key concept is that a union could be across an industry instead of focused on simply collective bargaining with a particular company or for a company segment. The members can be in a minority position at work, and values beyond collective bargaining could be provided by membership. In short, more of a trade guild than a traditional union.

      Australia IT has something along this line and it would be interesting to hear their experience.

      • #2740948

        Actually Ken the Australian IT

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Open Source Unions?

        Sector Union and I use ther term very lously is a bit of a tootless tiger while it has the potential to do a lot for it’s members it has so far failed in even the very basic bits that they have tried to obtain and I’m not talking about wage increases but something far more basic like when a company goes broke you can’t be sure that you will recieve anything from any outstanding pay and when it comes to entitlements well the nicest thing that I can say is it is a joke. One computer company here in Brisbane just disapeared over a Christmas New Year break they where taking orders and repairs up until Christmas eve and when the staff turned up for work the next week after the Christmas New Year break there was nothing in the building not even the carpets.
        The customers lost their money for any computers ordered, all the repairs had disapeared and none of the staff ever got any of their entiltments like holiday pay, Super or anything. Recently the Auto Workers went out on strike down South not for higher wages but to have some form of security for their entitlemts if the company ever went broke. Of coursre the Gocvernment steped in and handled the problem in their usual way you know greedy workers holding the country to ransom. So far there has only been one case where workers entitlements have been paid and then it was the Brother of a Highly Placed Government Politicion who was involved so the Government paid the money then a couple of months latter took on the auto workers for exactly the same reason.
        Even when Anset went broke the Government imposed a levy for every person who flew $10.00 per head I think and now a little over 2 years latter they have eventually scrapped the Levy after raising far more that they claimed they would and still most of the workers haven’t been paid out their existing entitlements while at the same time they can’t claim unemployment benifits because they have money owing to them and although it doesn’t look as if they will ever get it the Government still consideres it as an asset. Strangely enough the only people who have got all their entitlmemts where the very Senior managment but nothing new there as they where looking after number one and to hell with the rest of the 16,000 odd employies.

        • #2740940

          So what is the fix in Australia?

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to Actually Ken the Australian IT

          Apparently there is significantly more collusion between various goverment officials and business leaders in Australia than in the US. When our business leaders make out like bandits it is more likely that they had lawyers who exploited the law than any direct intervention. In part, this is because our federal judicial branch serves for life unless impeached, so the legislative and executive branch has much less influence.

          Strikes are one tool, but represent an adversarial condition between management and labor. A better solution is a partnership approach, but this requires a long term perspective and an element of trust. Maybe this is impossible due to human nature, but maybe not.

          What would you do if you had the power to make immediate changes to the work environment in Australia?

        • #2740641

          I’d persopnally like to see a

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to So what is the fix in Australia?

          Colaberative effort but in every case that I’ve seen so far strike action was the last resort. None of the srtikes that I mentioned previously happened because they could withdraw their labour it was always a “last resort” whith the employers string the unions along promising a lot and delivering nothing.

          Even here in Queensland a susposely “Labour” State the government rushed out and got all their workers to sighn Work Emoployment agreements, but with the typical shortsightness that seems to come with Government all these Labour agreements where signed within a few months of each other and you can guess what happened when they expired all together 3 years latter.
          The whole idea of these “Volentary Employment Agreements” was that you take a bit of pain now and latter things will get better well they didn’t they got a lot worse. Now this is totally off topic but it is a good exapmle the Nurses in the Public Hospital system are generally a hard working and thoughtful bunch who have seen their working conditions go downhill rapidely while atthe same time seen the exective staff’s working conditions improve dramaticly, when there new Volantary Work Agreement came up for renegation they entered into these discussions in good faith and 2 years latter they where still getting the same thing from the Government less money more hours and a lot more responibility {that was less staff that where responsible for more patients} The Governments answer in the meantime was to employ more unskilled staff to work in the wards while this wqs susposed to lessen the work load all it managed to do was make things worse because they where next to useless they could not despence drugs or anything else other than do some paper work and call a nurse or whoever when a patient went bad who they where supervising. Well one nurse to 40 patients just doesn’t go round and when they went out on strike (a very minimal one at that} they where called all the names under the sun but what made it worse for the Government was that the Doctors supported the Nurses.
          This whole country is riddled with the same type of things and in one case where both the unions and company worked togther for their mutial benifit on the Rockhampton docks whenr they had world best pratices and no industrial disputes the company along with Government support just locked aut all the workers and hired new ones. Now while this happened all over the country with the claim that we are improving the waterfront situation it only goes to show just how out of control things have got.
          Currently here we have a Federal Government how supports Big Busines and has the idea it’s always the workers fault. We constantly see the top exectives who screw up being paid multi million dollar redundancy packages while the workers have to strugle for a $$.00 a week pay increase. It is susposed to be too expensive but it’s ok for the bosses to take home 1.5 Million dollors a week and if they screw up the company get paid upwards of 10 million to leave.

          Until there is a radical rethink and reorganisation things will remain the same unfortantly the other side of politics is no better just the oppisite way “Up the Worker” until we reach some form of middle ground things will continue downhill fast. While the company CEO’s think that their position is a licence to print money for themselves and their workers are nothing more than a necessary evil I really can’t see any way to improve things.

        • #2740633

          Now while I was in this work force

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to I’d persopnally like to see a

          I had to belong to a union and follow it’s instructions up until the time that I became “Managment” but in all of these companies it was my workers how came first because without them I couldn’t do my job and we had no money comming in. But I continually saw the big bosses just ripping of the system to their advantage while I had to fight like hell for any benifits for my staff. In one radical step I insisted that all my staff wages be included in my budget and I would run within my budget and then have a performance allowence for anyone who performed above and beyond their duties. Well that trial worked very well for 6 months and just as it came time to award bonuses the whole thing was scrapped because it was going to prove too expensive to pay the bonuses to the workers who had increased our setions income 300% by working all hours and hardly ever being off call. I can’t remember the exact figure but it was something like $20,000.00 thta was susposed to be paid out in bounses. But he CEO awarded himself a 1.5 Million productivity bonus for my departments vast increase in productivity while the workers got nothing I was offered a couple of thousand dollars for my efforts in improving the position and the poor guys who did all the work and deserved the accolades got nothing, well needless to say I told them where they could shove their bonus as their actiond had caused me to brewak a promise to my staff and I quit. The upper managment saw thisas an act of munity or something like that and promptly threw me out of the door they fired me and instead of me working out my notice I was given one months pay in lew of notice. When this got out all the service staff quit but they where only workers who where easily replacable so no big deal. Now that particular company no longer has a presence in Queensland and when I worked there Queensland was a bigger market than the rest of Australia. Incidently most of those staff now work for me and while they constantly get better offers I can’t get rid of them as they seem to have some sought of misguided loyalty to me as they know I won’t screw them. But I only have a very small company with 10 tecks and one office manager + myself and we will never make any real difference to the workplace enviroment but at least we make money and have some fun. I’d like to see this on a much bigger scale as it is those workers who perform way beyond what I consider as necessary and when ever I call one of them in to tell them to slow down a bit I am always asked “I am I doing anything that you aren’t prepared to do?” This sought of stops me because I won’t place any of my staff in a position that I’m not prepared to go into first {Lead by example} and often after I’ve pulled a 3 day job non-stop someone will come in and see me sleeping in the back of the office and just make sure that no-one disturbes me in any way whatsoever. Recently I lost a whole day as no one would wake me up because that thought that I’d done my fair share for the time being.

          I know it’s not a complete answer but it works for me and my small company and I’m constantly reminded of one of the US Presidents words “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” I think that sums it all up people have got greedy and are out for number one and to hell with everyone else and unless we are prepared to work in a co-operative manner things just can’t get any better. I really hate it when I hear things like “Greed is Good” as I honestly believe that while you are intitled to a fair day pay for a fair days work you don’t need to be greedy to make money.

          Unfortantly I’m in the minority but at least my staff are happy and they are all still with me as while I expect them to work they all know that I’m fair and what’s best for them is whats best for me, so if they have a problem they all know that I’ll do whatever I can to help them and that their family comes first if anything goes wrong I just tell them to drop what ever they are doing and go to their family’s help. But mostly it is other staff who tell me what is going on as unless there is something like a serious illness or possible death in their families no-one wants to bother me with their problems.

        • #2740576

          Wow and Hurrah

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Now while I was in this work force

          Has the 1930 character limit been removed? (Or is Colin’s message just an anomaly?)

          And Colin, about the quote, “…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”, that particular President was John Kennedy. It was part of his inaugural address in January, 1961.

          (The whole thing is worthwhile reading indeed. John Kennedy, by the way, would, most likely, be a Republican today, not a Democrat.)

          It’s too bad that more people don’t buy into that notion (ask not…) today. Too many people expect their country to do for them, provide for them, and to serve them. There are too many takers, and not enough contributors.

          Actually, the same sentiment could be applied to every aspect of life: ask what you can do for your country, your community, your employer, your family, your spouse, your fellow man. What if everyone thought that way?

        • #2740550

          Actually Max I didn’t think about the 1930

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Wow and Hurrah

          Word limit I just expected to be told that I had exceeded the limit and then cut and past on. But of course you’re right it was certianly JFK and it was something that we all should live by.
          Unfortantly there seems to have been a very basic shift from what is good for our country is good for us to what is good for us is good for our country which isn’t correct. I’m sure you’ll agree with that.
          When I first left Uni a couple of us set up a business where we designed and built race cars and components and we felt it was our duty to offer help to the then current Uni students so we had an open door policy for any mech engerining students and their teachers to come in and do some on the job training rather than just the book learning which was fairly usless though necessary as if you knew that you should then know what not to do.
          Even back then I didn’t feel confortable in asking one of the staff to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do particuarly if it involved any form of dangerious activity but since that time I’ve seen managers just tell their staff to do something that at best is dangerious if not deadly and expect the staff to do it without question.
          It is this that I really find offensive as well as the fact that the worker seems to be treated as some form of disposable comodity who is easily replaced when something happens. Aftere these are human beings not bits of equiptment that you throw out when they break I realy think that any form of respect has gone missing in the last couple of decades. But then again I did have a woman complain of Sexual harasment by me against her because I opened a door for her.
          It now seems that good manners are considered as sexual harasment and frankly I want no part of that as I think that is where most of the trouble lies in people thinking that they have a right to something rather than an obligation.

          I hope that makes some form of sence.

        • #2740545

          Actually we might get a Spell Checker next

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Wow and Hurrah

          That way you lot won’t have to put up with my terrible spelling or worse typing.

        • #2739361

          IE Spell Check

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Actually we might get a Spell Checker next

          My spelling is also gotten to be very bad.
          (I blame it on all the spelling errors in my local newspaper!)

          I started using a program called IE Spell Check.

          It works on ALL content in text boxes in IE.

          The program is donation-ware, and can be found at

          It supports US, Canadian, and UK English.


        • #2739239

          Thes is gud two no

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to IE Spell Check

          Spel chekers r gud two use but sumtymes dont corect other gramer mistakes…..

          such as there or their or they’re


          two or to or too


          yours or your’s

          and so on

        • #2739132

          Thanks I’ll give it a try

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to IE Spell Check

          My spelling is absoultly terrable now asI’ve been relying on word processors for far too long and they do make you very lazy as you just type in what you aree thinking without any thought for the spelling as you can correct this latter.

          About three weeks ago I was exposed to some crule ans inhumane punishment I had to use a typewriter for some thing my God it was hard but at least I kept the white out people in business.

        • #2739129

          Thanks Chas

          by oz_media ·

          In reply to Thanks I’ll give it a try

          I have the common problem of tying madly and missing spelling mistakes and the ever popular hitting space before typing the last letter of the word. Thank sfor you rhelp.
          Useful as usual.

        • #2739991

          Reply To: Time for IT to Organize?

          by peleke ·

          In reply to Actually we might get a Spell Checker next

          Col Luck, whatever you may think you lack in spelling or typing, you more than make up for it in content and information. I have enjoyed reading a number of your posts and despite the “typos” I have been able to glean valuable information and insight from your writing.

          All I can say is there should be more employers, no, make that people, out there like you.

      • #2740048

        IT Union on Australia

        by vncoder ·

        In reply to Open Source Unions?

        In Australia, we have IT Workers Union:

        However, it seem no one joins or very small number of people.

        I personally can’t see any benefit from joining the union.

    • #2741001

      Problem with Unions

      by oldefar ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      I have been traditionally against unions as we know them in the US for several reasons.

      First off, unions have shown the same short sighted attitude as corporate management. The benefits gained by steel workers and auto workers merely hastened the move of work off shore. Benefits gained in the 1960’s and 1970’s have been a boon for many of those retired today, but these gains never came about for new workers and that workforce is only a third of its former size.

      Next, the focus on employment often worked against the best workers. Bad workers kept their jobs, all workers got automatic raises, and outstanding performance provided little reward to that individual. Like many who began work in the 1970’s I personally faced the problem of senior managers denying locally approved merit raises or accelerated promotion because of the size of the annual raises provided to those under bargaining unit contracts. A union free workplace seemed a much better opportunity to grow and gain individually for many years.

      Union leadership often was as corrupt and self serving as some corporate leadership has been. Being a pawn between two greedy kings is not a nice place, and many of us felt one king was the better choice.

      All of these problems stem from membership apathy. Perhaps we all do get what we deserve, including loss of jobs to workers who demand a smaller share of the company earnings?

      • #2740984

        Trade Unions and Profesional Unions.

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to Problem with Unions

        In Australia, as elsewhere, unions were very necessary as workers were ruthlesly exploited by management. It has been our experience here, however, that once unions reached a certain power base in the community, they became counter-productive. Because union officials were paid a salary, they didn’t lose anything personally by calling their members out on strike. Certain key unions (tanker drivers and waterside workers spring to mind) found that they could hold the country to ransom to gain ever increasing wages and perks.
        The trade unions have long ago passed the point where they served their original purpose of getting a fair deal for the workers. Pushing for ever higher and higher wages, they actually made fewer jobs available for their members.

        Professional unions don’t seem to have much pull in Australia. The Australian Journalists’ Association of which I was a member, called strikes from time to time to seek higher wages. But the newspapers, using administrative and non-journalist personnel, were always able to keep the newspaper going until the journos gave up.

      • #2740983

        More about unions …

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to Problem with Unions

        Notwithstanding the defects of unionism (corruption, failing to serve all members equally etc) I would most certainly agree that some intergrated structure, possibly as suggested on an international basis, should be strongly considered. As I have suggested above, to be effective a professional union would have to take a few tips from normal trade unions and be quite aggressive and steadfast in pursuing its goals.

      • #2740927

        union corruption

        by john_wills ·

        In reply to Problem with Unions

        Unions take sides in elections. The Teamsters have just declared for one of the Democrat presidential precandidates, and members’ money will support that precandidate even though some members may prefer a different precandidate or a different party, or even remain in a wait-and-see mode regarding upcoming elections. The union leadership is stealing members’ money and giving it to political candidates. Similarly, the management of many firms contributes to political causes, stealing from the shareholders. From time to time some brave politician submits a “paycheck protection” bill to Congress to stop this stealing, but a majority of Congressfolk is always too dependent on stolen money to risk more honest politics, so the stealing continues. They do not know what theft-free politics would be like, and do not want to take the risk.

        • #2740915

          Member actions

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to union corruption

          What would prevent the “rank and file” from adding a union bylaw prohibiting contributions to candidates from union funds?

          As with unfair employment practices, poor legislators, or dirty environments, do we not get what we are willing to tolerate?

        • #2740890

          Pragmatic Politics.

          by admin ·

          In reply to Member actions

          The fear of the other party having a large block of support in voter base and funding keeps both sides trying to listen to the workers. The members can vote however they want at the elections.

          It’s not only that we: “we not get what we are willing to tolerate?”

          We get what we are willing to not be active in. Many people will belly up to the bar and complain, some will vote, but very few get involved politically.

        • #2740613

          My Point Exactly

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to Pragmatic Politics.

          Complaining without acting on that complaint is tolerating the situation. 🙂

        • #2740566

          member action

          by john_wills ·

          In reply to Member actions

          Most union members do not bother to participate, and either tolerate the loss of their funds to a political movement they disagree with or trust the union leadership’s politics. But if, say, 60% of members approve political donation they are still stealing from the other 40%. Much the same is true with corporations: who is going to collect the votes to put on the corporation ballot a proposal to end political donations? PACs are one thing, unions and corporations are another.

        • #2740542

          Most people just don’t give a dam

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to Member actions

          Unless something directly impacts upon them most people just don’t care what goes on around them. Over in the US if you don’t want to vote you don’t have to and here in Australia where you are by law required to vote these same people just write in 123 from top to bottom if they bother to fill in the ballots at all.

          Unfortantly there is no way around the public aphathy and until most people strat taking an active interest things will remain the same.

        • #2739191

          No kidding?

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Most people just don’t give a dam

          People in Australia are required – by law – to vote?

          I did a quick search of your voting system and found (if I read it right) that it’s a person’s choice to enroll (register) to vote, and once a person is enrolled (registered) to vote, he or she is indeed required by law to vote.

          I’m curious, what is the penalty for failing to do so? And once enrolled to vote, can you un-enroll? And don’t you think that’s a little heavy handed? What’s next, them telling you that you MUST vote for a particular person? If you don’t like any of the choices on the ballot, cna you write in a candidate?

          I’m not suggesting that people not vote, to the contrary. But if someone doesn’t want to vote, I suppose it is (or should be) his or her prerogative. (Actually, I’m kind of glad that many ill-informed people don’t vote, since they haven’t the vaguest idea what or whom they’re really voting for anyway.)

          Public apathy: It’s everywhere. And the ones who don’t understand the system and/or the process and/or the implications and/or don’t get involved at all are the ones who cry the loudest, or so it seems.

        • #2739121

          Yep I fully agree with your last sentence

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to No kidding?

          Maxwell the position here is that when you turn 18 you are susposed to enroll on both the State and Federal Electrol Rols although in the last few years they have simplified this and now you only have to fill out one enrollment form and you can’t opt out.Aboutthe only way to get off the roles is to move and not notify the electrol office and when they do their routine checks if you are no longer living where you are enrolled your name gets removed.
          The penelty sought of varies from a “please Explain Letter” to court action where a fine of up to $200.00 I think or at least it once was as it may have increased since the last time that I looked to improsiment if you are a serial offender but you really have to try for the last alternative and I’ve never actually ever heard of this being imposed.
          It all depends on the sisuation at the time and if it is a first offence something as simple as I just forgot or got there too late will normally surfice.
          As far as being “heavy handed” well it’s something that I’ve never thought about as it is just the way it is {in other words we don’t know any better} the same applies to the 5 year censis yo9u have to fill the bloody things in no matter what but like every good little antisocial person there are ways around this as all you have to say is I was some where else at the time which is midnight on the night. My favourite one is I was at a Censis Party getting drunk! Actually I wouldn’t mind these so much if they wern’t so personal and just stuck to some general questions but being so specific they sought of get my back up and I avoid them whenever possible but as quite a lot of people do the same the powers that be have now placed some heavy fines in place for not complying but they never follow up if you tell them you where else where.
          I actually know a few people who arn’t on the electrol role and while most are parinod as they believe that the role is only in place so they can be tracked {as if there wern’t other ways} they are the ones who moan the lowdest when they don’t get the government that they want and don’t attempt to get them in.
          Personally I think it is stupid being forced to vote but then again I think 3 year terms are a waste of time as well so I’m out of step with most of the people over here. As we only have a population of something like 20 million I think that all the pollies are too afraid that no one will turn out to vote if it isn’t mandatory. Just think of it they hold an election and no oine votes other than the people standing and their families. Wouldn’t that be a trully represintive group? From ther people that I talk to they just don’t trust any of them and there is a popular saying over here that goes something like this “How do you know when a politicion isn’t lying? Answer when he’s not talking!” or another favourite one “What do you call a waste? A buss of politicions going over a cliff into the ocean with empty seats!”
          I think that gives you the general idea.

        • #2739074

          You hit the nail on the head.

          by admin ·

          In reply to No kidding?

          “the ones who don’t understand the system and/or the process and/or the implications and/or don’t get involved at all are the ones who cry the loudest, or so it seems.”

          My observation has been that once people get and stay on the journey of knowledge, discovering how and why things are the way they are, they often find their initial conclusions transparently lacking. 🙂

        • #2740546

          John wouldn’t it be nice

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to union corruption

          To have government return to its original conception where they serve the people rather than build their own little empires for self gratifaction?

          This is something that I have been against for as long as I can remember but in actual fact these organisations arn’t stealing from their members/shareholders but in actual fact trying to buy our elected representives so they can get a better deal for their own organisation whatever it is.

          This is not an attack on the US political system but rather on the Democratic System as all Democratic countires have the same problem.

          I really don’t see a problem if an indivual wants to contribute to an election fund but I do see problems when organisations who ever they are are allowed to do this as it is nothing more than a bribe by that organisation to gain favour.

          Wops I’ve broken one of my rules again don’t talk about religion or politics.

        • #2739858

          problem in democracy

          by john_wills ·

          In reply to John wouldn’t it be nice

          This particular problem of democracy can be brought to an end by a paycheck protection law. We may be fairly close to this in the U.S., because a hefty majority of Republicans favor it and it would have passed last year except that all the Democrats were against it. The politicians do not know how the pattern of support would develop if candidates had to rely on private, PAC and party money; a majority of them still do not want to take the risk.
          In Yookeigh the unions traditionally fund the Labour party, but union members can get a proportionate part of their dues back if they do not want to support the Labout party – this is case law, going back quite a number of decades.

        • #2738177

          Sounds like an excelent idea John

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to problem in democracy

          But as I’m naturally a sinical person I just don’t believe that any group of politicions will ever willingly vote away any of their perks.

          Maybe it’s different in the US hoever I’ve been privy to some meetings where members from both major parties have got togrether and riged a vote on something for political advantage, you know to make one side look good in the publics eyes hopefully I’m wrong in this case but as I have friends who are federal pollies over here I’m quite often invited to meetings because for same unexplained reason these people value my opinion or think I know what I’m talking about and bno matter how often I tell them that I’m no expert they continue to believe that I know more than what I actually do and they know I’ll keep my mouth shut. It is really quite funny as both major parties invite me to meetings or more correctly their elected representives invite me and they all know that I don’t become involved in party politics and that I only offer my opinions when asked something directly.

          Like recently over here durring the gun buy back scheme what a total waste of money that lot was when all that they had to do was licence the ammo and reloads rather than go to all the expence of putting in a levy and buying back all those weapons and destroying them. Some smart people made a mint out of this as they started making barrells for M16’s without case hardning them just in mild steal and totally useless they could make them for about $15.00 and where paid $300.00 each for them. And I won’t go into the issue of them buying back anti aircraft guns {because they where called gunns they where eligable if they had of been called cannons they would not have been.}

          Well one of the current Government representives had a meeting at her electrol office with some very senior members of the government involved to show just how much they where doing for us plebs and I was invited as usual I stayed quitely in a corner until Kay asked me what I thought of how effective the Gun Buy Back Scheme was going and I just had to tell her that I thought it was a waste of money and it made normally law abiding citizens into criminals because they wanted to keep some firearms that where family treasures and the like I then suggested it would have been far cheeper an eaiser just to control the ammo as any firearm without ammo is nothing better than a cricket bat and did they propose to ban cricket bats and buy them all back? Well the person in charge of this scheme took this very badly and had a very long talk to me and the whole thing ended up in her suggesting that I become a paid advisor to the Government as what I said made far more sence than what all their Experts had told them.

          I’ve also been to meetings on both sides of the fence where ways of getting around the disclosing of electrol donations where discussed at the moment any donation above $10,000 {I think} has to be declared so every one was instructed to only accept donations up to $9,990 or get anyone who wished to donate more to just make multipal domations of less than the then $10,000. To me this was against the spirit of the Law but as both sides where involved there is little that will be done to stop this from happening.
          I’ve also noticed at these pre election meetings that a lot of effort is put into raising money and very little effort is put into the issues involved everyone of them seems to think they can buy their way into power which unfortuntally seems to be the case over here unless the current governmewnt has really stepped out of line and are on the public hit list.

      • #2740892

        As a union member (Teamsters)

        by admin ·

        In reply to Problem with Unions

        I think it’s better to have 2 greedy kings than only one. The pawns seem to benefit more in this scenario.


      • #2739354

        Time for new Unions?

        by thechas ·

        In reply to Problem with Unions

        Looking at what is going on in the US corporate world, I am starting to believe that it is time for some new strong unions.

        The first step in the revolution is to cap the pay for corporate offices to a reasonable multiple of the lowest paid workers wages.

        The current average of several 1000 times the average workers salary is obscene!

        Next, we need to reduce mergers.
        I have yet to see a merger that has in the end helped the average worker or consumer.

        Corporations are taking on far to much debt to take over their competitors.
        The end result of each merger is fewer choices for consumers, higher prices, and fewer jobs.

        My career has been in the electronics industry.

        At every company, labor was a minor factor of the total manufacturing cost. Usually less than 10 percent, often less than 1 percent.

        At all these firms, managements ongoing cry was to reduce labor costs.

        The problem here is out-dated accounting where over-head is charged based on labor cost.
        With 200 to 500 percent overhead charges, the effective cost of labor could equal other costs.

        The funny thing here, is when production is shipped of-shore, there is no longer any means to charge the overhead costs. Design and support become cost centers and are eliminated.

        In the current business climate, the average worker and consumer need some protection from the greed of the corporate boards.


        • #2739228


          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Time for new Unions?

          Who’s going to be the grand master of the plan, and decide how much or how little a corporate officer can make? And who will define who is or is not part of that corporate elite? And who will get to decide what an obscene salary is? (Sorry Charlie, I decided that you just can’t make that much money.) And who decides how much debt is too much debt? And what happens when incentive to grow and prosper and get better is taken away? And what happens to the values of the stock markets – and the tens of millions 401(k) accounts – when corporate profit is “fairly” distributed to every employee of the corporation instead of to all those greedy stock holders? (Oh yea, that social security “trust fund” that we can all rely on.) And who decides what is “fairly distributed”? And if an employee knows that: 1. His job is secure because of union protection, and 2. His salary is secure because of the forced distribution of wealth, what incentive does he have to be profitable and productive? And what happens when a company wants to move out of California, for example, and go some place else where the environment if more friendly towards business, Texas or Colorado, for example? (Sorry, you can’t move your business.) And who gets to make that decision?

          When does your business become someone else’s business?

          Let’s just put the government in charge of all businesses in America so they (businesses) can be forced to do the right thing. And of course, we all know that polititians and government bureaucrats always do the right thing.

        • #2738304

          My proposal

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Questions:

          Max, I want companies to grow and prosper.
          However, I want them to grow the old fashioned way, by being the best at what they do, and providing products that are a reasonable value to the consumer.

          Company growth by buying out the competition simply leads to the stagnation of innovation and increased opportunity for foreign competition.

          On to my proposal:

          Change the tax code for people in upper management positions.
          After their compensation exceeds 500 times the minimum salary of the lowest paid regular or contracted employee, the income tax rises from 38 percent to 90 percent.
          (perhaps on a sliding scale from 500 to 1000 times)
          Further, if payroll is cut by either layoffs, or pay cuts, the CEO and related managers MUST receive the same percentage reduction in compensation.

          Merger debt load from the acquisition of competitors (horizontal integration) must not exceed 20 percent of the combined value of the firms.
          Further, employees that are let go as a result of the merger must receive a generous compensation package. Perhaps 1 year of continued health insurance and supplemental pay so that when combined with unemployment they have 75 percent of their former pay.
          The insurance and compensation would end when the employee finds a new job.
          If nothing else, this would provide incentives for a company to provide decent out-placement services to get former employees back into the work-force.

          Vertical integration and mergers that expand the company into new markets would NOT be subject to the above.

          Discontinued products that may result from a merger MUST receive FULL support for a minimum of 7 years after the last manufacturing run.
          (This is actually part of some consumer protection laws, and has been followed by the appliance industry for years.)


        • #2738288

          agree with premise not the solution

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to My proposal

          Chas, I agree with your premise, but not your solution. I too want to see businesses grow and prosper, as you so eloquently stated, but I cringe at the thought of even more government control of private (or personal) business. And the tax code is the method most used to exercise that control. The government is too involved in our business and private lives already, and any more government intervention is just too much for me to accept. The current tax code, for example, is 17,000 pages long. In 1913 the whole thing was only 14 pages – 14 pages TOTAL. The current tax code has 2.8 million words. No, I don’t think we need any more. Let’s start taking them out. And there are some serious problems buried in those words. Why on earth would we want to add more fuel to the fire – no, make that an inferno? The government is oppressive enough already. It’s time we start removing some of these laws and rules- the barriers to freedom – and start repealing these laws instead of creating new ones.

          Every time I turn around there’s a law against this or that. I can’t start a business without spending tens of thousands of dollars to lawyers and accountants to sort out the myriad of rules and regulations. And even then, I’ll probably be audited, or penalized, or sued by someone or some group, maybe because I didn’t put a stupid ramp at the front door. I say enough already. And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that it smacks in the face of the whole concept of a free society and free enterprise.

          Here’s a challenge for you – or anyone else, for that matter. The next time you state a problem, before you propose a solution, try to come up with a solution that does not involve government. Too many people run to the government as the first and only solution to solve every little (or big) problem they face. Problems can be solved without government, you know. You should try it.

        • #2738280

          For you to ponder

          by thechas ·

          In reply to agree with premise not the solution

          Without government controls, how do we prevent the next World Com or Enron?

          Now, I do agree that many laws are much too complex and difficult to implement.

          That comes from the 512 or so lawyers and the multitude of lobbyists involved in the process.

          If you remove the special sections of the tax code and most laws that were placed to help a business in each Congressman’s district, the law would be a lot simpler.

          We need to get back to a government of by and for the people.
          Not of by and for business.

          Term limits don’t work.

          Campaign finance reform does not work.

          So far, the best situation in Washington is a divided legislature.
          When 1 of the 3 (House, Senate, President) is firmly in control by a different party, the only laws that get through are the ones that are truly needed.

          When either the Democrats or Republicans are in charge of all 3, we get a mess of laws that cause more problems than they fix.


        • #2738274

          Don’t misunderstand

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to For you to ponder

          I’m not suggesting no government controls, but fewer of them – and ones that are less intrusive to free enterprise. Market forces, when allowed to work unencumbered, are powerful forces indeed – and usually result in growth, prosperity, and lower prices because of increased competition. And you have to realize that WorldCom and Enron are the exceptions, not the rule. They broke existing laws, and the people responsible should be held accountable. But it doesn’t mean we need more laws – just enforce the ones in place already in cases like Enron.

          I agree, we need to make sure that government remains one of the people, by the people, for the people (and shall not perish from the earth.) However, I don’t see things in an us (the people) versus them (business) perspective. As Calvin Coolidge once said, the business of America is business, and I agree. We’re in this together, and one cannot survive and prosper without the other.

          So the way it should be is this: Business will look out for the best interest of the people, and the people will look out for the best interest of business. It’s the only way our free market society can survive and prosper. I hate to see the dialogue fall into an us versus them argument.


          And I agree, term limits and campaign finance restrictions, don’t work – and it restricts free choice and free speech. (And yes, gridlock is a good thing.)

          A Calvin Coolidge story: Calvin was not known for being much of a talker. In fact, he was known to be a man of very few words – rare indeed for a politician. At a Washington social event, a reporter approached President Coolidge and said, “I made a wager with a friend that I could get you to say more than three words.” Calvin’s reply was, “You lose.”

        • #2739855

          pay capping

          by john_wills ·

          In reply to Time for new Unions?

          Capping of bosses’ pay at a multiple of that of the peons has been tried in various U.S. firms. What happens is that the most competent managers choose to work for firms which do not have such a rule. I think there have been other problems too. But it is really the shareholders, those who most want the firm to increase in value, who should decide this: if they want to pay the CEO a certain salary my opinion in the matter is purely advisory. And jealousy is a vice.

        • #2739814


          by oldefar ·

          In reply to pay capping

          While I have heard this comment at various times over the past 30 years, I have never seen a single specific instance referenced. To say it has been tried and failed without pointing to a case makes any meaningful analysis of the argument impossible.

          Now as for a case where it has worked, I point to the US military pay scale. What is more interesting is that the compensation at all levels has consistently lagged behind the private sector and yet has managed to retain some extremely competent personnel.

          As for shareholder value, I agree. This is an area where a collective effort can have significant impact. As employees, the workers typically lack the capital to own a sufficient amount of stock to influence management. Even the limited stock owned by employees is not a voting block. An association could leverage employee owned stock into a block, and could add additional leverage by selective purchase of stock from a broader base. For example, the CWA could purchase stock as a national effort to gain a significant say in how IBM or Verizon is managed. This targeted ownership could float by selling that stock and buying another as change is implemented.

        • #2738300

          Ben and Jerry’s

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Really?

          I agree that self imposed limits will not work.

          Any limits need to be industry if not nation / world-wide.

          It is NOT the share-holders, but the corporate boards that determine executive compensation.
          (Share-holders MAY get a chance to rubber stamp the boards decision.)
          Since most of the members of corporate boards are other CEO’s, there is a built-in incentive to boost compensation.

          When Ben and Jerry decided that their ice cream business had grown to large for them to continue to manage, they were forced to abandon their self imposed compensation cap in order to find ANY qualified candidates.


        • #2738294

          Thanks for the reference

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to Ben and Jerry’s

          I will defer comment until I have had a chance to look into it. 🙂

          The board of directors faces pressure from stockholders. When a sufficiently large block begins applying pressure to change behavior, change occurs. Not unlike the knee jerk reactions of governments to 9-11 or the series of mega failures going back to prehistory.

          Even China’s government has moved under pressure from the Chinese people. Perhaps not as rapidly as some would like, but never the less they have moved.

          If there is one lesson we can learn from Iraq, it is that a small minority controls the majority by keeping that majority as a large pool of individuals. As individuals, each of us is always outnumbered by whoever has power.

        • #2738167

          Actualy John I don’t have a

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to pay capping

          Problem with Board Memebrs pay rates if you want good personal you should have to pay for them. But and this is the very big but it is when these people prove less than copenent and a re awarded massive payouts to leave the company that I have a problem. If someone has increased business substantially they desivere a pay increase but when they prove totally inept and get millions of Dollars to leave this is just plain wrong and I thnk it is the biggest crime in any corporation. Somewhere here someone used the example of Enron and while all their plant is still working as the US needs the power that they produce it was the little people who got burnt and not the Senior Managment. Thankfuly some are facing criminal charges but all to often these same people will just walk away from the mess that they make and go on to creat antoher one else where with no repucations for their actions. Or in a case not as bad as Enron if they are senior Board Members will get massive payouts to leave and then after the fact the shareholders are only given the chance to rubber stamp the decission of the remaining board members. The if something really nasty has happened and the shareholders vote to throw out the remaining Board Members they will just see the value of their stock drop dramatically so in most cases they are stuck with the devil that they know rather than the devil that they don’t know who may prove very god but these people having already lost so much money are unwilling to risk any more. I really can’t understand just why the Stock Market is held in such high regard as an investment opportinuty. Sure the returns may be greater but so are the risks I was always taught not to play with money that you can’t afford to lose, but this belief seems to me to now be a long dead idea or at the very least an “Old Fasion Ideal” and I constantly see people play the stock market with borrowed money in the hope of the next big killing and making themselves rich. Almost always these people lose everything and worse still as they have nothing left they are incapable of paying back the original loan which started the whole thing off in the first place.

    • #2741000

      Free Enterprise Support

      by oldefar ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      A more balanced approach to distributing corporate earnings, a more balanced pay scale between top management and bottom worker, and a global mindset within the workers is not counter to the free enterprise concept.

      The entrepreneur, the inventor, the creative mind, and the visionary who create a new product, service approach, or market space are the risk takers and deserve to be rewarded for their effort. As a startup, they take most of the risk and typically own the company. As the company grows, they often move into the role of CEO or President, and are able to draw a salary like their workers. At this point, that salary should reflect a reasonable ratio of compensation. They still benefit from owning the company – stockholders equals 1. It is a good time to begin looking at how profit is handled as well. Perhaps the ratio of half to stockholders and half to work force begins here.

      With success, many of these companies go public to obtain capital. Within a short period of time, the initial entrepreneur moves out of the top spot and into either a director role or is bought out entirely. At this point, the reward for that entrepreneur is in place. If he continues as a stockholder he continues to reap reward, and if he sells out he moves on.

      So now the company is public, owned by stockholders. While many are initially funded by venture capital, many are also funded by institutional funds. The “risk taking” investor is playing with my insurance, retirement, or bank funds, not his own money, so the argument that he needs a high reward for his risk falls apart. The same applies with the management team. They did not risk their money in taking on the job. It was a going concern they were hired to manage and continue successful operation. Compensation to them needs to reflect this reality, not the false concept that they are entrepreneurs.

      As for the founder, I hope he earned billions on his effort and goes on to repeat his success. But as a CEO, move that compensation back to reality.

      • #2740539

        Remember Apple

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to Free Enterprise Support

        Look at how much money the directors voted themselves after they got rid of Stev Jobs and look where that company ended up. In an act of desperation they brought back Steve and expected him to fix up in a short time what had taken them years to stuf up.
        While Stev got some of what he deserved the people who voted him out got a lot more and took the company to hell in a handbasket but at least while Jobs was still ther Apple was a leader and highly placed in the PC market.

        The real problem here is that when a company like Apple/Microsoft grows so big that the original person who was responsible for it can no longer control every aspect of the business and brings in outsiders to manage things it is the beginning of the end for most companies particuarly the ones who invest heavly in development to keep their place in the market as to accountants this is nothing more than a waste of money that could be betrter spent paying themselves.

    • #2740885

      We make enough to be complacent.

      by admin ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      I don’t think it will unfortunately change until it gets a lot worse.

      My Great Grandfather was a union organizer some time ago. Him and his co-workers lived away from their families most of the time in “skid shack” bunkhouses with many men in a room. They worked long hard hours and ended up many weeks owing the company store more than they had earned. He would climb to the top of very tall trees used as “spars”, cut the tops out and rig up cables and pulleys in the tops. His only safety equipment was a belt around the tree and metal spurs on his boots.

      It was dangerous work. His co-workers (and family members) died often, or were maimed to the point they could no longer work, and every time the whistle blew signifying someone had fallen, many people in the town rejoiced because one of their sons could finally get work.

      It was rough. So rough that my Great grandfather killed someone at a picket line.

      The unions were organized because circumstances were very desperate then. I don’t see that in IT. I hear a lot of people complaining, but most of us are just too comfortable to go out and sweat the blood it takes to change the institution when mangement starts bucking us IMO.

      • #2740667

        Lateral Thinking …

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to We make enough to be complacent.

        Colin and myself have given instances in Australia of two different Professional Unions which are toothless tigers. So I’m going to throw in a few suggestions for consideration:
        Create some good karma by making a significant donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. If it weren’t for Microsoft’s shitty software and all the Service Packs and Critical Updates, there would probably be only half as many IT jobs available as there are. Onshore or offshore, IT is probably the most rapidly growing industry that has ever existed. New applications will continue to appear. Some time ago I started a discussion on “Artificial Intelligence.” It didn’t attract much attention, but one member posted that “AI is the future of IT.” So I am suggesting that those who have the programming ability, rack your brains for new potential applications and start working on them now. Thus you may be already prepared for new concepts as they emerge.

      • #2740535

        The more things change the more they

        by hal 9000 ·

        In reply to We make enough to be complacent.

        Stay the same. 50 years ago it was the greedy boss who didn’t care how many people died so long as he got his money. Prior to that it was the robber barrons in Europe who ruthlessly trampled on their pesents so they could maintain ther way of life. Now it’s the CEO’s and their ilk and while working and safety conditions may be better all that they are interested in is getting as much return on what they spend. At the moment most workers are considered by the senior managment as a drain on their resources it doesn’t matter that it is these very same workers who produce whatever that makes the money for the senior managment just let these workers claim a small pay raise and listen the the howls of complaint that originates from the Boardroom but let these very same Boardroom members vote on a pay rise for them selves and you won’t hear a single argument, what is worse here is that quite often the worse a company performs the greater the Boardroom members pay rises are.

    • #2740785

      IT is too broad a term

      by maxwell edison ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      The general term, “IT” consists of the following (and much more):

      From people who build computers for Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, and others, to the folks at the local computer superstores who build and service them, to the Mom and Pop shops who build and service custom units, to the people who build them for their individual companies (who may have other functions as well), to the independent consultants who build them, to everything else in-between.

      From the engineers who design the next generation of processor, to the others who design, build, support and sell the various cards, boards, modules, drives, and widgets, not to mention the ones who test and troubleshoot past, present and future technology.

      From the people who write software for Microsoft, Autodesk, Symantec and the other major players, to the employees who load and support all the various software (who may have other functions as well), to the ones who write custom software, to the people described above who service it, to the independent consultants who do it, to more than I could possibly list in this thread.

      From the Web Masters, to the Internet Service Providers, to the large network administrators, to the small network administrators, to the help desk personnel, to the in-house or independent security consultant, to the CIO, to the IT manager, to the IT staff, to the computer guy because he knows the most about computers, to anything and everything in-between.

      Not to mention the engineers, designers, suppliers, teachers, data processors, administrative staff, and other users who simply utilize IT, but could be considered as part of the IT industry.

      I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

      “IT” isn’t an industry in and of itself, but rather one that encompasses and supports virtually every industry you can think of.

      Besides, I’d like to see a general pendulum swing away from organized labor. It’s too much, already.

      • #2740755

        Some Stats

        by oldefar ·

        In reply to IT is too broad a term

        In the US, union membership dropped to 13.2 percent of workers according to the US Department of Labor. In 2001 that percentage was 13.4

        As for IT being too broad, you could be right. The purpose of the discussion boards is to generate alternative perspectives. So what are the divisions between IT workers that are meaningful to the concept of a trade guild? Is the salaried versus hourly division sufficient? Exempt or non-exempt?

      • #2740663

        Absolutely …

        by jardinier ·

        In reply to IT is too broad a term

        I have long been thinking along the same lines, and noting that TechRepublic only seems to attract the attention of a small spectrum of the industry.
        Would you recommend (with a view of unionism in mind) that these various associated aspects of IT be clearly divided into smaller, but quite specific categories?

        • #2740589

          My Bias – I’m the wrong guy. . .

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Absolutely …

          …to suggest the best ways to unionize, since I’m inherently and philosophically opposed to collectivism in any form. (Well okay, most forms and most circumstances.)

          Yes, it’s true that labor unions, during the early part of the 20th century, offered a most valuable – and needed – service, and they literally changed the business landscape in America (and elsewhere, I suppose). They redirected the tone and expectations of the relationship between employees and employers. But that was then, this is now. Most employers today think of their employees differently. They see them as assets that must be protected, not chattel that can be used and tossed aside. Sure, not all businesses operate that way, but most do. And those that don’t will never be as successful, and some simply won’t survive.

          Of course there will be downturns, layoffs, and so on. I’ve experienced that sort of thing myself. (I was laid off from my last job – 12 years ago.) But learning to roll with the flow, and focusing on the opportunities instead of the setbacks will always – yes always – be the force that will result in a person landing on his or her feet, usually better off than before. Sure, the problems are there, but so are the opportunities. Seek and ye shall find. Seek the problems, and you’ll find them. Seek the opportunities, and you’ll find those too. I’ts all a matter of choice.

          I’ve served myself well by serving my employers (past and present) well. I’ve always approached my jobs (and I really haven’t had that many) as a business within a business. I’ve tried to see things through the eyes of the business owner and proceeded as though I was my own business owner. This isn’t “my department”, for example, but rather “my business”. That kind of attitude gets noticed, just as the “complainer” gets noticed. The difference, however, is obvious, and the resulting outcome will be just as obvious. Instead of employees adopting the “us against them” attitude, the “how can I make things better” approach would be more productive – and more rewarding – in the long run. If a person is in an environment where that sort of mind set isn’t prevalent, there are plenty of opportunities available where it is.

          So my take is this: Instead of voicing an opinion on the picket line, speaking with your feet will send a much louder message – especially if enough people walk.

    • #2740714

      Symptom Of A Larger Problem

      by jackofalltech ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      The real problem is greed, pure and simple. There are only a handful of companies with REALLY long-term visions (20 years). Instead of understanding that there will good years and bad years, they all are focused on this years’ bottom-line – the almighty dollar. For example, last year a company made 11 million dollars net profit but this year they ONLY made 8 million dollars net profit. Holy Cow!! We need to cut costs! Let’s lay-off the grunts who actually know what they’re doing and outsource to some Indian company. They just don’t seem to realize the hidden, long-term costs involved in this. Lower productivity, lower morale, lower customer satisfaction, lower employee loyalty, etc.

      I don’t know what the solution is but if something isn’t done soon, this whole service-industry economy will take a nose-dive and we’ll all be screwed!


      • #2740601

        Metrics of Labor Costs

        by oldefar ·

        In reply to Symptom Of A Larger Problem

        It seems that understanding the cost of labor would be a good beginning.

        First off, look at the distribution of labor costs, from senior management on down to the lowest paid position. Identify fixed versus variable costs in these areas, and include all costs that go directly to the labor. This includes stock options, benefit packages, and severance packages.

        A key problem is that most of workers are primarily fixed costs rather than variable. Perhaps a starting point is a lower base and higher performance bonus formula.

        At the top levels, look at those bonus figures. If moving labor off shore will save 20 million in fixed cost, should the senior management really receive 10 or more percent of that?

        A better balance in compensation formulas between senior management and workers will also improve the picture. A higher base and lower bonus at the top, the inverse at the bottom, and everyone is better incented to make the company successful. Also, layoffs are avoided or delayed if the base is lower.

        • #2740600

          For those seeing the jobs arrive

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to Metrics of Labor Costs

          This is an international forum, and I am sure that some of the readers are from the same locations where these jobs are moving.

          I urge you to think hard about your own employment compensation. In the US at least the ratio of top management compensation to worker compensation is 50-100 to 1 in corporations. If your pay is but a tenth of your western counterpart, that ratio jumps to 500-1000 to 1. Is this what you want? The bulk of the wealth your value provided stays in the west. Is this a good long term scenario for you and your children?

          Look around at other countries. The management that sent jobs of their countrymen overseas for personal gain will not hesitate to move those jobs again. What is your strategy to hold onto the work?

        • #2740526

          Excelent Point

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to For those seeing the jobs arrive

          Not only is there a much lower costs to Managment ratio but the same safety standards don’t apply so these companies can gring these new workers into the ground and just spit them out once they have been burnt out without any conquences.
          I can remember Everyready in India {I think} where even the most basic safety standards wern’t followed killing hundreds and contaminating thousands more because of their lax/non-existant safety procedures. From memory they provided housing right outside the plant so that their workers didn’t have to travel any distance to get to work but when the place went up and all the chemicals where let lose ionstead of only affecting a few people on site everyone around the plant was either killed directly or contaminated with the chemicals used.

          It is not only cheaper labour rates that causes these companies to move offshore but cheaper production costs which almost always are a result of not having to have in place suitable safety standards. First it was the more dangerious industires who did this but now everyone has jumped on the bandwagon as if they manage to main or kill their workers they don’t have the expence of having to pay for their negelience.
          Then when that country gets too expensive to produce in or they are required to introduce a reasonable level of safety they just move the facilities to another country without these constraints.

      • #2740559


        by john_wills ·

        In reply to Symptom Of A Larger Problem

        Greed is an ambivalent concept. A friend of mine during the 1970s refused a job which made use of his academic qualifications and took a much-lower-paying one for an ideological reason I will not try to elucidate. We can say that he was greedy for ideological gain but not for material wealth. But the ideological things he wanted to do(he thought that God was gay – you may have seen him in a rainbow robe in the SF Gay Pride parade) would have been more realizable if he had had a good income and decent working hours. In recent years, when he was suffering from clinical depression – a result of a rotten job and ideological frustration – and living on early retirement benefits I encouraged him to seek professional work, but he was not greedy enough, or his depression overcame his greed, but I suspect that a conscientious job search might have killed his depression, which has now killed him. So lack of greed killed him?
        The greed concept is more ambivalent than this, of course: the short-termist managers rdschaefer describes might also be described as not greedy enough, or not intelligently greedy.

        • #2740530

          Or we could call them accountants

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to greed

          It is this group who always seem to take a profitable company and ruin it within a very short time generally. They are always looking at the current bottom line and to hell with the rest. At one company where I worked they brought in a new CEO who promptly sold off all our buildings and then proceeded to lease new offices ect well that first years prifits looked realy good but in actual fact the company hadn’t made any more money thta in previous years all that had actually happened was that it had disposed of its assets which lead to smaller regional offices with no part supply infrastructure no customer support and very little ability to even service our current dealers. All the parts had to come from one centeralised storeroom and to cut costs there they didn’t even look at the quanty of parts that where used Australia wide just waht was required in the head office prior to it becoming the main parts supplier the same thing happened for new units as well so we very rapidly had the situation where we didn’t have the parts to repair units and there where no new units to sell. I’ll give you two guses what happened to that company., but not until the CEO that was brought in retired with a massive Golden Handshake for making the company so profitable in his first year. Needless to say he wasn’t there to reap the rewards of his actions or bear the responsibility for his actions either.

        • #2739931

          Not all accountants..

          by peleke ·

          In reply to Or we could call them accountants

          Colin, I guess I can understand the reason for your perception of accountants, especially with recent events such as the Enron scandal in America. In your example you’ve pretty much described a situation, somewhat similar to Enron, where they SERIOUSLY “cooked the books” to deceive for unethical purposes with the final result being an unspeakable act of “take the money and run and screw everyone else”. Except in your case the SOB got away with it. Like you, I totally abhor this kind of behavior and lack of ethics.

          While we’re on the subject of unions, the same is also true of some union management. Recently, in Hawaii, where I live, a top union leader was indicted for, among other things, money laundering and misappropriation of Union Benefit Trust funds (about $200,000.00). I’m sure he had to have the help of his accountants in setting up his “bogus corporations” and slowly skimming the money away, robbing his own “constituents” of their hard earned benefits. However, my point is this: the accountants were simply the “evil tools”, not the reason for the evil.

          I have been an accountant (actually my current focus is on computerized accounting systems) for 20 years now (private sector) and have always tried to operate within the “ethical” boundaries of the profession. I can say the same for the majority of my peers. However, at times I found that I had to “skirt the edge” in interpretation of certain Accounting guidelines in order to “please management and keep my job”. However, I was fortunate enough to never to have to engaged in outright “illegal” or unethical practices. I am currently unemployed (hopefully not for long) partly because I got tired of management’s disregard of the real value of employees and their blind focus on the current bottom line as you mentioned. The mentality that employees are “replaceable” and therefore can be treated as such, sickens me. . continued.

        • #2739930


          by peleke ·

          In reply to Or we could call them accountants

          ..continued? This is why your postings and postings of the majority of contributors on this thread have impressed me. Because you all seem to be able to see the value of a good employee where others only see a “bottom line”.

          I guess what I’m trying to say is that not all accountants are unscrupulous enough to violate the code of their profession as was the case in Enron and in your case. The fact is, at least from my experience, more often than not, accountants end up being the “scapegoats” or the “evil tools” of management to help them “justify” their less than scrupulous intentions. Yes, if accountants choose that path then they are no better than the perpetrators but in my experience, it has rarely been the accountants who make the decisions. They usually either “guide” the decisions with information or misinformation as the case may be, or are told to present it in a way that “Management wants to see it”… whatever that may be.

          I just thought I’d bring this up in case any of our readers thought you were just “trashing accountants” which I don’t think is what you really intended. At least I hope not :-).

        • #2739722

          Actually Peleke

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to continued..

          I don’t really have a problem with accountants only when they tell me how to run my business then I willl gladly tell them where they can insert their business models that they seem to want to kep fostering on me and my business.
          Hower in all fairness a long time ago when I was in a partnership with a couple of other guys that I meet at Uni we set up a business designing & building race cars now that wasn’t a clever idea in Australia as the market just isn’t big enough but we had our fair share of success and the company got to a size where we had to employ an accountant for the day to day running of the finances as we poor enginers just didn’t understand how to make money we could certianly spend it and still make a profit but it was hardly good business pratices.
          But the accountant that we got was something else he single handelly managed to do his level best to destroy the company and cost us our biggest customer to boot.
          We had a “new” Forumlar Vee “Last years model” which we couldn’t sell so we lent it out to our biggest sales organisation for display purposes and as it was fairly expensive we just invoiced it out with a note on the invoice that this was a business requirment only and pay no attention as we would produce a refund when returned. Well this accountant came in and without a single question started legal action against this reseller for the unpaid 6 month old invoice. I should have thought that he should have a t least talked to one of the owners before going down this course of action but he knew best.

          Anyway I got a phone call from this reseller who was for some unknown reason quite upset particuarly as he had court documents in his hand at the time and we where apparently not only sueing him for the non-payment of the car but also interest. So I reasured him and then went to both of my partners and asked them who started this action off as I thought that it was fairly counterproductive. Well lets just say that none of us knew a thing about it so we went into our accountants ofice to find out what had transpired. He just claimed to be following normal business pratices and even though he agreed to seeing the notice on the original invoice he claimed that thismeant nothing and he was going to get our money from the thieving nonpaying customer.
          Well needles to say he was istructed to drop all this action and before he ever thought about anything like this he was to speak to at least one of us after all we owned the company and had the mistaken belief that we should have some actual control over how things where managed {As I say we where just silly engineres who had no business knolledge.} Anyway a diorect order from the owners should have been the end of matters and I rang up the gy who rang me and appoligised profuselly and explained that there had been a misunderstanding with a new staff member and now everything was soughted not to worry. That should have ben theend of matters bt that bloody accountant thought that he knew better than us and proceeded with the legal action.
          The next thing that any of us knew was this guy drove in with the car on a trailer on the back and litterally tried to throw it at us it seems that someone had taken out an injunction and frozen his business in anticipation of a Court Rulling against him and he was to say the least very unhappy but no where as unhappy as us because we had directly instructed this guy not to do anything and the really idot thing here is that this particular business used to buy about 6 cars a year and always paid up front he was the type of customer that you didn’t upset and he really did a lot for us well at least until this happened.
          Well this incident lead to the instant dismissal of the person in question and a lot of expence on our part to fix things up with our customer who never fully trusted us after that for some unknown reason. It seems that having your business assets seized sought of bring out the worst in your beliefs.
          Anyway the next thing that we heard from that particular accountant was a letter of Demand from one of our suppliers who incidently we where building a prototype for, for non-payment of supplies namely tyers for the car we where building for him and which he had stopped making progress payments on.

          We filled a counter clain for our out of pocket expences in this matter it was a long time ago but we owed this company something like $3,000.00 and they had an outstanding bill of something like $500,000.00 in progress payments and a final payment owing of another 1 million.
          Anyway after a lot of legal wrangling where the legal people got paid the who mess ended up withthe comany who we where suing for 1.5 million gaining a temporary injunction over us and a temperory administrator appointed who was nominated by the person who we where sueing. Once they got control they immediatly dropped the legqal action against their employer for some unknown reason and then sold off the entire company to him for the outstanding amount of money owing after all he was hardly likely to sue himself was he?

          So you might understand why I’m a bit coloured when it comes to accountants as I haven’t had very good experiences with them and even though this particular person ended up in jail for misconduct or something the damage had already been done. The only good point was when the person who finially got control of the company came to take control of his new purchace he seemed to slip on some oil on th efloor and we left him unconscious {actually one of decked him} but to a man when the Police arrived asking questions we all just said that we hew was ok when we left something must have happened after we left the place. The Police couldn’t do much as there where three against one although I fairly sure that they had a fair idea of what had transpired. ANyway the person in question eventually parked the car in question in a tyre wall at something like 150 MPH and managed to wreck the thing but unfortantly we did tour job too well and the very nice person survived even though it did take over two hours to cut him out of the wreck. It was a pity about that but I’ll survive.

          So while I’m not against all accountants I’ve had some bad incidents with them as well. My current one just knows to handle the money that I makeand never try to tell me how to run the business as I’ve told him off once when he actually suggested that I didn’t need all my currebt staff and to lay off a couple as well as not to bother carring all the spare parts as I could just order them as required and if they where out of stock at the time then the customer would just have to wait. Sorry but I don’t do busines that way. And just to get even with him after I told him off he requested some work performed on his computer network and I went in and said I would gladly do the job but as the suppliers where currently outof stock he would have to wait up to two months for his new workstation as it was now the end of the finicial year and everyone in accordance with their accounts instructions had allowed their stock levels to drop. I think you get the idea.

        • #2739600

          I understand your sentiment completely…

          by peleke ·

          In reply to Actually Peleke

          After reading your response I sort of wish that I could have lived there and worked for you. I think, in another reality, we could have shared a successful business relationship in that I share your perception of what an accountant’s function should be in an organization… Just keep the books in order, present them in an understandable and accurate fashion to the ownership, AND LEAVE THE BUSINESS DECISIONS TO THEM! When an accountant takes on the task of making business decisions, he no longer, in my opinion, is functioning as an accountant. I understand the importance of business relationships over just looking at the bottom line. AND I am an accountant. But I would never make an important decision without consulting the ownership first, even if I were given free reign to do so. Why? Because I realize that I lack the perspective that the owners have in making industry related decisions. To make “uninformed”, self-serving decisions with a limited perspective on the industry only leads to eventual business suicide.

          I don’t know what that arrogant “idiot” you hired was thinking, but it’s apparent that he had no concept of the “long run” nor did he have any respect for the business relationships of the ones who hired him. Apparently when you hired him, he totally misunderstood (or purposely ignored) his level of authority to have indiscriminately undertaken such drastic steps without consulting with the owners first.

          What I see in this particular instance is a poor choice of personnel and a misjudgment of character. (He wasn’t someone’s relative was he? IS that how he got the job? :))

          Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective. It has made me realize that there are more idiots in my chosen profession than I realized. But please… we’re not all like that :). I wish you continued success.

        • #2738684

          No he wasn’t a relation

          by hal 9000 ·

          In reply to I understand your sentiment completely…

          But he did come from a Bank and personally I think that he was bought off by the person who eventually ended up owning the company as he had been trying for a few years to buy us. That silly fool actually thought that the company name was the all important thing when in actual fact it was the brain power of those silly folls who owned it. He actually thought that we would work for him after he virtually stole from us.

          But I don’t judge all people by those standards and with accountants I put the basic ground rules in place and if they can live with them then there all ok by me. I never let a couple of bad experiences put me off any group of people I just chalk it up to experience so hopefully I’ll know better next time. After all the best lessons that we learn are by our mistakes aren’t they?

    • #2740506

      Alternate exploitation

      by road-dog ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      I speak from the hard hit telecomm side of IT. There are still a lot of IBEW and other unions representing groups in this industry. As I see it, they have no more job security than their “scab” (their term, not mine) counterparts. They are paying monthly dues to an organization that cannot modify the market. The market forces that crushed telecomm and the movement toward wholesale outsource overseas are much larger than any union. Any shop steward telling you that his brotherhood will stop it is flat out lying.

      IT will recover as the market does, when capital expenditures return. John Chambers of Cisco says look for two month’s lag on the recovery of most other sectors. He has made Cisco a huge player and I trust his judgement more than the talking heads on the cable news networks.

      The push to move support to Pakistan and other countries will continue as long as customers will tolerate the language barrier. I would like there to be legislation passed that requires companies who outsource to notify their customers of that fact in their product literature. When products have a label on the package stating “supported by American Tech Support”, then the customer can make an informed buying decision. If this label is ignored by the customer due to price, then the market has spoken….

    • #2739087

      Not a Union, a Professional Association

      by road-dog ·

      In reply to Time for IT to Organize?

      S.P.I.T. (SPIT is a tongue in cheek name and we would need something much better)

      Society of Professional Information Technologists

      SPIT would be an organization that would provide members with industry credentials and internal enforcement of professional standards and compliance with industry best practices. It would provide services to members that would increase marketability and ensure that members are the best fit for positions that are available in this industry. The organization would foster fair competition and increase cooperation between members.

      This organization would be apolitical, only informing members of relevant issues, not backing or donating to political candidates or parties.

      The organization would not engage in collective bargining or setting pay rates or scales. This would dilute the organization’s viability by similarity to labor unions. The organization must foster free market practices and give members the best chance of success in the free market environment. This includes exploring options to retain jobs in country by providing companies with quality people and leveraging the marketing clout of endorsement by our members.

      Funding would come through membership dues and costs decreased through vendor participation via reduced training costs. Such a relationship between vendors and support personnel would improve product support and possibly increase market share through the influence of the society’s members. Additional income could be brought in by advertising on the society’s web site and publications.

      The society could also provide placement for members with a job board viewable only by members in good standing. Positions staffed through this board would be charged to the employer as a “finder’s fee”.

      There would be levels of competancy and documentation of training & experience as relates to areas of expertise or disciplines such as:

      -Telecomm, Voice and/or Data
      -Client Server
      -Programming / application
      -Project Management
      -Legacy Systems
      -Web Design / Internet
      -any other category

      Any organization chartered to represent the various types of IT professionals would have to do these things.

      1) Provide a course curriculum to verify and certify professionals as experts in their discipline. This would entail vendor certification with the top vendors and products serving that industry. There would have to be a way to exclude “paper” certs and document at least 1000+ hours of actual work in the field.
      2) Provide a certification of understanding of business and economics. This should cover the basics of budgeting, ROI, and the role of IT in the context of the business environment.
      3) Provide levels of certification from apprentice up to subject matter expert. The organization should also provide a mechanism where apprentices are reviewed by a senior society member before being “promoted”. Maintenance of the cert would require 40 hours training per year and maintenance of all vendor certs. Members should provide assistance to other members on their area of expertise via a mechanism similar to TechRepublic’s Q&A service.
      4) Provide valuable resources to members such as legal advice, collections assistance, and customer certification for ethics. Unethical or non-recommended customers and employers would be rated in terms of workplace conditions, outsourcing, and pay rates.
      5) Provide mechanism for stripping a member’s certification for damaging the group’s reputation and standing. Such offenses would be things such as fraud, theft, and failure to comply with certification guidelines.
      6) Provide an online membership directory where potential employers and customers would have ready access to member status. This is intended to provide “instant” demonstration of the member’s qualifications.
      7) Provide a presence where IT professionals are represented at meetings and legislative sessions that affect our industry.
      8) Provide a group rate for health insurance and retirement savings for individual independent consultants.
      9) Have really cool Polo Shirts.

      SPIT should require that any members attaining subject matter expert status publish at least 1 white paper per year that is relevant to the organization or his industry. They should also provide mentoring and sponsorship of junior professionals for promotion within the society.

      Questions ? Comments?

      • #2739043

        I nominate Road Dog as the first . . .

        by maxwell edison ·

        In reply to Not a Union, a Professional Association

        …President of SPIT.

        • #2740070

          This just might be something

          by road-dog ·

          In reply to I nominate Road Dog as the first . . .

          I’m interested in serious questions and input on such an organization.

          There are lots of great minds available here and we could begin identifying scope, mission, and organization right here.

          If folks think such an endeavour is impossible or unworkable, I’d like opinions as to why. If this attracts interest, I’ll open another thread on the subject and we’ll kick it around….

        • #2739805

          Overwhelming Riches

          by oldefar ·

          In reply to This just might be something

          I did a little bit of hunting today for associations similar to your proposal. On Google, there were over 8.5M entries. Searching within that for computer (IT was viewed as too common a term and ignored) brought this down to 1.5M listings. Even with sites having multiple entries the number of associations was overwhelming. I looked at several, and found each has a similar set of goals as you describe. One pay site has a directory of 45K associations.

          I also tried to dig a bit deeper into the certification opportunity. Here there is another wealth of choices. At there is a searchable database. You have to register at the site, but there is no cost.

        • #2739800


          by oldefar ·

          In reply to This just might be something

          It appears to me that the bulk of vendor certifications are marketing tools.

          I would much prefer a generic certification set for each of the major IT areas – based on standards and concepts rather than vendor approaches. Unfortunately, the only place this has really had moderate success is with PC hardware, cabling and security. The best approach to this would be for every vendor to make the generic certification a prerequisit for their particular family of certifications, but since they are marketing rather than truely certifying I don’t expect to ever see this.

          The apprentice approach is interesting, but what about the small office with the one man IT department? Who does she apprentice to?

      • #2740068

        A great idea

        by maxwell edison ·

        In reply to Not a Union, a Professional Association

        There could be an organizational song, you know, a spit-toon.

        We could have an annual cookout – kabobs on a spit, of course.

        And there could be a dance as well – a real spit ball.

        In all seriousness, I think belonging to organizations like that are a great thing. There are quite a number of them already, however, and a good number of them, but not all, are industry specific. (Medical, Architectural, Financial Services, Education, Engineering, Manufacturing, Internet, etc.) (Not an organization, per se, but a neat link)

        …only to name a few.

        I love your outline of ideas – some real good ones.

        • #2740062

          I’m familiar with a couple of those

          by road-dog ·

          In reply to A great idea

          and I’m imagining something a little more approachable to the average techie. Legislative issues would definitely be a component, but the focus should be to facilitate IT rank and file types to advance their careers, either as an employee or mercenary.

          That’s where the rubber meets the road or the bits meet the bus. Independent Consultants and staff IT folks should have a little more clout in the business environment. I don’t think that this will change the environment in any big way, but give members a leg up in succeeding in it.

          I would love to have access to those Gartner Group market analysis reports to assist me with justifying capital expenditures to clients. A group rate to access similar material would be a great tool.

      • #2739851


        by john_wills ·

        In reply to Not a Union, a Professional Association

        What road dog wants is a guild. For us the ACM is the best candidate to develop in this direction, but, although it is behind a lot of the university curricula for computing, it seems to be against general certification – just as journalists are. The description looks very much like Pius XI’s(?) proposal for all occupations in the encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, but there has been corruption among such guilds in the past, which is why there are right-to-work laws in some states.

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