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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 - http://tinyurl.com/ixhg.

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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No he wasn't a relation

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to I understand your sentime ...

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?

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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....

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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
-Sales
-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.
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?

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I nominate Road Dog as the first . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Not a Union, a Profession ...

...President of SPIT.

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This just might be something

by road-dog In reply to I nominate Road Dog as th ...

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....

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Overwhelming Riches

by Oldefar In reply to This just might be someth ...

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 http://tinyurl.com/jb81 there is a searchable database. You have to register at the site, but there is no cost.

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Certifications

by Oldefar In reply to This just might be someth ...

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?

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A great idea

by maxwell edison In reply to Not a Union, a Profession ...

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.)

http://tinyurl.com/j8po

http://www.itaa.org/

http://www.fstc.org/

http://www.itic.org/

http://tinyurl.com/j8qj (Not an organization, per se, but a neat link)

http://tinyurl.com/j8qn

...only to name a few.

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

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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.

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guild

by john_wills In reply to Not a Union, a Profession ...

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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