Labor and Employment Law
Information Technology

Why is there information technology union?

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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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