FedEx Ground Cons:
- No benefits, no overtime pay, no sick time, no insurance
- Drivers pay for vehicle, gas, supplies, insurance, and everything else
- No company retirement, seemingly less stable environment
- No Teamsters contract or collective bargaining
- Drivers have only one client: FedEx
"To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now"
Kodak is dead. In no small part because they lost their ability innovate.
In fact our economy is littered with the detritus of collapsed or dying technology giants. To name just a few there's SGI, Sun, Thinking Machines, DEC and Yahoo.
With the possible exception of DEC none of these companies had any appreciable union penetration. In fact, some failed giants (Zynga and Groupon come to mind) were notorious for being vicious to their employees.
All of these companies are flashes in the pan compared to Eastman, which stayed at the top of the innovation game for generations.
If the salient difference between those companies and Eastman was Eastman's unions, that makes the unions look pretty darn good.
In your examples, for instance, Zynga and Groupon are companies that - as far as I know - did absolutely zero technological innovation; they're known for their business model innovations.
Is it possible the employees could be treated reasonably well without the unions? Is it possible that unions have downsides that might affect a company's health?
If either of those are true, it doesn't seem fair to frame "the HN takeaway" like this.
Their problem was that they were fundamentally a chemicals company. They weren't as good as consumer electronics as the Japanese consumer electronics companies, and they weren't as good at the web as Silicon Valley web companies.
And, ultimately, they wanted to milk the chemical film business as long as they could and perpetually overestimated the popularity of film cameras versus digital.
That reminds me of a passage from Robert Caro's Master of the Senate:
"Vote-counting" -- predicting legislators' votes in advance -- is one of the most vital of the political arts, but it is an art that few can master, for it is peculiarly subject to the distortions of sentiment and romantic preconceptions. A person psychologically for intellectually convinced of the arguments on one side of a controversial issue feels that arguments so convincing to him must be equally convincing to others. And therefore, as Harry McPherson puts it, "Most people tend to be much more optimistic in their counts than the situation deserves... True believers were always inclined to attribute more votes to their side than actually existed."
That wasn't the argument in the article. The Kodak employee in the article was given benefits such as education and opportunities for advancement, and Kodak ended up with a CTO - that's a great investment by Kodak.
How much talent is languishing as janitors at Apple (and the rest of SV)? In a market where talent is at an extreme premium, I truly wonder why employers don't cast a much wider net.
For example, exceptional coding talent is rare, and opportunity to become a developer is also rare - it requires access to education, computers, time to learn and to hack (not working at the grocery store so your family can feed itself), and people to work with (to encourage you, to learn from, to mentor you, etc.). At first glance, at least, it seems obvious that there are many very talented developers who just haven't had the opportunities.
They did try to innovate in their space, which they thought was camera tech, but their only real competency was in making film, and their only real focus was in making film cameras (despite some early forays into digital photography).
I personally had more enjoyable experience with UPS than FedEx. It seems to be always on schedule and delivered as promised. FedEx is not terrible, but has some variation.
If it's not f*cked it's free!