Originally posted by VBangalore Sssss:
What do you think ?
I had a conversation with a respected co-worker a little over a month ago about unionization. He had some great points about what labor unions bring to the market, but I felt really dubious about the prospect of working in a unionized environment. Most of my points were about open market and the real value of a person�s labor on the market versus union gouging. Still, something about the discussion just did not sit right with me.
I�ve been a member of a union in the past, I was a member of the Travis Country Sheriff�s Association. It was a good union and at the time it made a lot of sense to be a member. While I was having that conversation with my co-worker I kept thinking about that union and if I regretted being a member. I did not. So why am I against unionization if I belonged to a union that I still think is a good idea? Finally, the answer dawned on me.
In my business I work with a lot of mediocre people. I have been in IT long enough that I am starting to realize the reason why people are mediocre is because they have no aspirations to do any better. I am not an �ber-programmer at all, yet I have been recongized for my contributions and work. The difference I see is not in intelligence or even ability, but in that I have a desire to try new things and take on tough challenges while many of the people I have worked with since entering this field are content doing the same-ole same-ole. Yet when it comes time for evaluations, those people still want the raises and promotions, regardless of the fact that they have not put forth any additional effort.
Unions usually want standardized payscales and compensation. The union method is says your labor is worth [X] dollars and that is what you should be earning. The problem with that philosophy is that it assumes that everyone will work to the same level. Yet in the technology field we routinely find employees that are twice as productive, five times as productive, sometimes even ten times more productive than the average IT worker. Is that person supposed to just earn as much as the employees that don�t even try? Do you believe that people who essentially think for a living can be commodified? I don�t even mind so much if someone comes in at a higher salary than me, but I do not want to think that they get the same compensation increase and chances of promotion that I do just because they work in the same field. I desire to compete and come out on top. Levelling the playing field is just a way for mediocre employees to have an additional chance to overtake people who are good at their jobs.
So then, what about the Sheriff�s Office? Well, in the Sheriff�s Office you do have commodified labor and the rate of pay cannot exceed what local government could pay. What happened though is that the Austin Police got a large pay increase and so the Sheriff�s Office wanted one to. It made a lot of sense. The officers were not asking an unrealistic or unsustainable amount either, nor would they be in a position to. Furthermore, everything at the Sheriff�s Office was standardized. Want to promote? You take a test with everyone else. Raise based on seniority rather than ability? Makes perfect sense when you�re not really an industry trying to get a product to market. What is my labor worth to the county? Not really anymore than anyone else, I can be easily replaced no matter how good I perform. You cannot be ten times as productive as another officer, there is no way to measure that.
Maybe unions do have their place, but I am still very wary of them. I look at the industries we have now that are heavily unionized and none of them seem to be healthy. You cannot lay the blame on management at that point, the workers end up sharing some of the blame as well. If salaries and demands go beyond what the market can take and businesses are cornered into using union labor, than the industry will not be healthy in the long run. Sadly, we got into this whole mess because businesses were exploiting their labor. I can�t help but wonder if all the damage we�ve seen in the long run couldn�t have been avoided if some sleazebag wasn�t so worried about trying to recoup what was likely a minimal cost rather than do the right thing.
Unions are used for collective bargaining. Frankly, I don't care what you make so long as I'm happy with what I make. Now if you and I are going to work at the same payscale, then I do care what you make, our interests are aligned and we can band together.
This works well for jobs involving manual labor. Consider the cannonical assembly line worker. Whether it's turning a screw, painting wood, inspecting quality, the best person is only marginaly better than the average person, or even someone on the low end.
In our industry, there's a factor of 10:1 between the best and the worst, and a factor of 2:1 between the best and the average. I don't want my pay to be pegged to the average, and my promotions and benefits based on some fixed agreement independent of the work I do.
Originally posted by Anna Baik:
Collective bargaining doesn't mean you can't still have performance related pay. For instance, in a large UK company-to-remain-unnamed, the union has negotiated a reward framework that includes performance related pay - the point was to get a fair framework without quota based evaluation ratings and the like. You might have someone being paid half as much again as their less talented colleague (before bonuses, so the actual difference may be more).
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