Labor and Employment Law
Information Technology

Why is there information technology union?

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Answered 2009-09-02 02:35:05

A computer specialist gets a job based on what he knows. It costs money to maintain the skills to STAY in that position. Businesses constantly try to undercut the costs of operation by cutting the cost of an employee's overhead. In many circumstances this means blindly firing the IT employee for being on the job to long, being "too old" and demanding too much because they have amassed a great deal of knowledge and skills or they may have family which is too expensive for the company in their eyes to maintain where benefits are concerned. An IT union would protect the IT professional by making it harder for arbitrary firing and destroying the lives of professionals and their families through unethical cost cutting practices. The union would also enforce regular education to maintain timely IT proficiencies which industry refuses to encourage in the US.

Although a professional in the IT industry earns higher wages and usually has a safe environment, there are other things that a trade union could do that would help such a worker. Just because an IT professional works all day inside sitting at computer doesn't mean there is no health concerns associated with the job. There are many issues to consider. For instance, long hours, employee degradation, discrimination, benefits not offering sufficient coverage, or not having some the necessary benefits. IT professionals require more breaks, though not as long as ones. What about time off for important family/friend events like weddings or graduations. Vacation time and getting the holidays off is a big issue. Allowing/providing accommodation like higher/lower chairs. What about training, for both veteran and amateur IT professionals? Most IT companies only provide minimal training. What about job search/placement assistance.; using a temp agency is not sufficient? What about job security, that's the biggest concern for workers of every industry. What about fair promotion/demotion issues? What about IT professionals that are self employed and need assistance with health insurance, training, professional recognition, unfair contractual agreements, legal issues, discrimination. These are all issues that a trade union which serves IT professionals would work on. Training being one of the main reasons for forming an IT workers union, but there are also several other major considerations as well. Alot of outsourcing occurs for telephone help-desk positions. Union representation could help stem the flow of IT jobs out of the country. One of the major issues that I have are IT staffing agencies that make their money solely based upon finding and placing IT professionals. I'm certain that these staffing agencies aren't non-profit, so I'm assuming that the revenue that they generate is a percentage of what would otherwise be the IT professional's wages. Also, based upon the number of these staffing agencies, I'm assuming that business is good. I would assume that if there were an IT workers union, then job-finding would/could be one of the services offered. A union could probably fund itself solely based upon providing the services that IT staffing agencies do, with the money going towards a better cause. Answer #4 Believe it or not, IT Work can be extremely stressful. In general, people (especially the older generations) do not understand how computers work. They have been around to see computers go from multimillion dollar computers that filled rooms to handheld units that can do tons more than those room filled units ever could. This leads to the view that computers are now "simple" - you can accomplish anything via a click and there is no reason anything should break. This is vehemently untrue. While it is true that end-users can do very involved things by using a GUI, the back end of things (enterprise servers, applications, advanced debugging, hardware troubleshooting) requires a tremendous amount of knowledge (varying, of course, depending on task). All end users ever see is a pretty screen with buttons. How this ties into the idea of a union is that IT workers can be easily exploited. Because people assume things are simple, IT budgets and project timelines are often compressed to unreasonable volumes. Someone wants a new application? Well, its just a few points and clicks, some magic code thrown together and poof, you have a new application! Of course anything can run on a modern desktop computer, so why do you need that $90,000 sun server? Depending on the job function, the amount of information the IT worker has learned, more often than not on his own time and with his own money (especially in the beginning), is immense. At the upper end, your average systems enginner is combination systems administrator, researcher, diagnostician, network specialist, developer, financial planner, presenter, hardware technician, and encyclopedia of now outmoded information. New volumes of very technical information come with every new platform, application, programming language or extension. It is not uncommon for IT workers to be salaried, to work 12 or more hours a day, and to be on call, even on vacation. In fact, this has been the norm at most places I have been. You practically (and in some cases literally) have to ask permission to utilize your personal time ("Off Call" nights and weekends) Because computers are so "Simple" nowadays, and everything relies on them, nothing should ever break, and if it does, it better be fixed NOW (regardless if it acually is fixable). After all, its just a few points and clicks and everything can be set right. And why did it break anyway? Must have been a mistake by the IT worker. Coupling the hours, expectations of instant fixes, with the problems in communication with non-technical people (to whom computing concepts might as well be greek magical spells) leads to an immense amount of stress. Unions can help offset this by giving the employees a collective voice. I, for one would welcome a union. I want my 8 hour day with only emergency overtime back - as well as ownership of my weekends without informing my company. People struggled for countless years since time began for a fair work and life balance. Americans in particular are very apt to give up their life (which, in the end, is all we have) to enrich another person.

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