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Discussion on: Should we form a labor union?

sirseanofloxley profile image
Sean Allin Newell

Here are some alternatives to unions off the top of my head:

  • Gender studies being required in CS/SE coursework
  • Salary negotiations being required in CS/SE courerwork
  • Bootcamps covering salary negotiation
  • Open and freely available materials to empower individuals in negotiations (some exist on YT, but many are paid things)
  • More legislation broadly targeting gender pay gap (some is here, but I wish legislation had a robust system for individuals to quickly bring cases and quickly resolve them)
  • employers offering standard benefits packages not up for negotiation (everyone gets the same thing)
  • require open source employee handbooks like GitLab
  • open salaries / salary 'levels'
  • require a reason for not hiring within two days (we just need to really reinvent this recruiting, hiring, and offer stuff imo)
steveblue profile image
Steve Belovarich Author

All of these sound like great ideas. I think preventative measures are definitely required. Open salaries have been slow to take off. I like that idea but I think having a fair standard pay would be great too. One company I spoke with used the 75th percentile salary. That seemed reasonable to ensure even the workers for that corporation who worked in India were getting paid the same relative to the people in the US. 90th percentile sounds better. 😃 Maybe I’m going on on a limb there, but I we need standards in place and don’t think corporations will willingly offer them en masse nor do I think government is interested in helping people who work in technology because we aren’t the most visibly disadvantaged.

I’m not sure how we reinvent all these things without an organization like a union though? Change is slow. Corporations have lobbyists, we don't as employees.

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sirseanofloxley profile image
Sean Allin Newell

It's hard, but I think right now employees have a lot of power. The software job market is just so....tilted towards us I guess is a good way to put it. Perhaps if we simply didn't work for employers who didn't offer a minimum high bar of standards, that could be the pressure needed. And it doesn't need to be the fringe employees who are living pay check to pay check; it can just be the top 30% or 20%; the 'top talent' has a lot of sway over what kinds of incentives employers provide. That's why we see silly things like daily free lunches being hyped instead of robust paternity leave; the top talent the employer is after has done their market research, and the 'top talent' hasn't matured yet.

I hope that as our industry matures, the engineers will be able to shape how we want the industry to look like and function with discussions like these here on, and on Twitter, and yes, even irl in our break rooms and slack channels.

I guess what I'm envisioning is more of an educated workforce via an ad hoc union of sorts, that's more grassroots than formal and organized. We don't need legal power, we need social pressures and community. Idk, maybe that doesn't honor the real hardships certain families experience, but here in Texas in the DFW metroplex, even bad engineers have it really great. It's hard for me to imagine a software engineer living on the edge down here, but in calfironia I'm sure that's the norm. #costOfLiving