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in reply to Should Programmers Unionize?

After reading the commentary in this thread, I have to write a follow-up to my first: Re: Programmers Blue Collar?

I see here some of the reasons why unions aren't a good idea:
Whew! I won't deny that companies do impose demands, sometimes unreasonable and usually uncompensated, on 'exempt' (salaried) workers. I just went through a six month overtime drubbing to complete a project. However, I'm also getting well over $20K more than I used to when I had the luxury of forty hour weeks. It is definitely my choice to stay, as it is anyone's.

Populist slickos like John Edwards to the contrary, corporations are on the whole a good thing. {note: the corporate exec compensation issue is an entirely separate problem not addressed here.} They provide millions of steady jobs for people who are unwilling to create jobs themselves by being entrepreneurs. The truth of the matter is that a "job" includes a measure of serfdom, by its very nature. You trade some freedom for a mostly-guaranteed paycheck and an array of 'benefits'. Part of that freedom you give up is the ability to set your own wage scale. I have a good friend who I visited yesterday who owns his own embedded computing business. He can keep as much as he has left over at the end of the month, and sometimes that's a killer lot of money. However, it's feast and famine, because surely as the Sun rises and sets, he'll be scrambling again in a few months. Most average people, especially with families, can't or won't accept the risk or stress of entrepreneurial insecurity.

I dislike giving any power to either the W's of the political world or the Lenins of the socialist "worker's paradise" stripe. DrHyde's commentary is a good example of why union power can be a bad thing. He considers his personal powerlessness to be sufficient reason to disrupt a smoothly functioning system that provides paychecks and security for hundreds if not thousands of his fellow human beings, not to mention products we all value and need. He reminds me of the nasties from Earth First or the Weathermen, who believed it is perfectly legitimate to murder to make a point. Murdering a corporation is very little different than murdering a human being, except that you affect hundreds or thousands.

I think people (including programmers) should be allowed to form unions. I also think that corporations should be allowed to toss them out and hire replacements, whether from another union, guild, or non-attached. That's the one most egregiously evil abomination that has come about: union tenure. It comes from the evil that is the corruption of the American political system: political party power. I think that the day that Caterpillar told its union workers to get stuffed and kicked them out was one of the best days in economic history. Unfortunately, most unions have gotten <quote>legal</quote> protection for their tenure, and that is an absolute Bad Thing. There should be a ZMA to hold the AMA to the fire. The LA Harbor Authority should be able to tell the longshoremen to get lost without needing shotguns to keep ships and cargos from being vandalized. Etc., etc., etc.

Most of all, the Democrats and Republicans need to be stripped of all the special perks and built-ins they've awarded themselves. Until we take back our government, we will all continue to be screwed, whether from the "left" or from the "right".

Don Wilde
"There's more than one level to any answer."