Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food for Thought - Unionization and the Technology Sector

Found via some keyword searching after reading one of this morning's links. Many of the challenges of unionizing museum workers are the same as the challenges of unionizing tech workers.:

"Forty years ago, nearly one private-sector worker in three belonged to a
union. Today, that number has dwindled to around 10 percent and there's little
to suggest that a revival is nigh. Although unions remain fairly strong in the
blue-collar world, that world is shrinking. (Can you say "technology"?)
Consequently, labor unions don't wield the political clout they used to.

It's sad to see the anemic state of organized labor in this country today. Worse, it
kills me to admit that, to a large degree, the erosion of the labor movement is
the fault of the unions themselves. Their refusal or inability to change with
the times, to keep the movement relevant in the face of globalization and the
digital conversion -- the so-called new economy -- has been disastrous.

Disastrous, I might add, for union members and nonunion workers
alike. Just as the Democratic Party has largely ceded the battlefield to
Republican stridency in recent years, so, too, has organized labor wilted before
an economy where the unrestrained market rules all. The result is unsurprising:
The rich get richer, the shareholder is valued more than the employee, jobs are
eliminated in the name of bottom-line efficiency (remember when they called
firing people "right-sizing"?) and the gulf between the rich and the working
class grows wider every year.

You see this libertarian ethos everywhere, but nowhere more clearly
than in the technology sector, where the number of union jobs can be counted on
one hand. Tech is the Wild West as far as the job market goes and the robber
barons on top of the pile aim to keep it that way. They'll offshore your job to
save a few bucks or lay you off at the first sign of a slump, but they're the
first to scream, "You're stifling innovation!" at any attempt to control the
industry or provide job security for the people who do the actual work."
- Wired

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