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OK, unpopular opinion follows, bring the downvotes.

1) All of my experiences related to unions have been negative. Things become more bureaucratic and inefficient ("oh no, you can't move that box, we need to wait for the union person whose job description is to move the box"), people are promoted because of seniority and not because of merit, bad performers up to and including flagrant criminals can't be fired because the union would rally to support them no matter how in the wrong they are, etc.

2) FAANG-type jobs have to be the cushiest jobs around. I mean, look at http://levels.fyi. Who else gets paid that kind of money right out of college, for doing a very comfortable office job, with a ton of perks on top?

I get that unions might be necessary in industries where workers are actually exploited, to protect said workers. But FAANG engineers are pretty much in the opposite situation. I don't like people creating an us-vs-them situation that doesn't exist, just so they can promote their own politics. As I commented recently, if you don't like it, quit (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21636860), and let the people who go to work to, you know, do work, do it in peace.






There are two ways (optimistic, and cynical) to look at why you would want some form of labour organization, even in a situation like being a google engineer.

The optimistic view is that they believe that Google is a great place, capable of doing great things, but hamstrung by their current environment, and that giving labour a stronger voice will let Google do the great things they believe that Google can and should do. For example, they might see that management is not listening (enough) to rank and file feedback about the viability or need of different options leading to Google's endless parade of chat applications. Or they might think that Google is moving into a realm where their internal politics and decisions will begin to become ever more under public scrutiny, and that cleaning it up will lead to greater public acceptance of Google's goals.

The cynical view is that cushyness can always be removed. It's always labour's interest to lock in the benefits they have. And if you could lock it in, you should.


Not picking a side here just commenting.. if a Union is passed then the stock will likely tank washing up benefits for a long time (future value is diminished now that their free cash is not available for value building activities).

You cannot lock in future benefits short of shutting down a company, you can assume future benefits from diligent planning and business operations but it is never guaranteed.


>I get that unions might be necessary in industries where workers are actually exploited, to protect said workers. But FAANG engineers are pretty much in the opposite situation. I don't like people creating an us-vs-them situation that doesn't exist

The us-vs-them situation has always existed and it's always been political. It's been the monolith of management vs an individual worker. If you can't imagine anyone but blue collar workers having a union I'd point you to the various unions of Hollywood. If FAANG is as cushy as you say, there's not going to be any contentious labor disputes between management and workers. But unions would balance the power between them.


I'd argue Hollywood unions are the perfect example of leaders inventing an us-vs-them situation. I would not want to belong to an organization like the WGA, where union leadership can force me to walk off my job for half a year because they don't think my current compensation structure is good enough.

A strike has to be authorized by the members. Members can choose to join the strike, accept the penalties in the bylaws, or quit the union.

First, downvoted as requested, you're welcome.

Second, consider that Google, Apple, and "dozens more" effectively stole billions of dollars from their own devs?

https://pando.com/2014/01/23/the-techtopus-how-silicon-valle...

https://pando.com/2014/03/22/revealed-apple-and-googles-wage...

Their jobs are cushy, yes, but they were actually exploited.


College-educated people who make good salaries have this vision of unions as the silver bullet solution for the working class. I don’t think they know any working class people with union experience, as unions are unquestionably a mixed bag.

For some anecdata, my dad’s a musician and a guy he plays with is a janitor for his full time job, and he is diehard anti-union out of life experience.


My grandfather and dad both worked factory jobs and were both “diehard anti-union”.

After asking a few questions I got the sense that they were both convinced of the evils of unions by the employers propaganda. They would show them videos and have occasional anti-organizing events were the company basically said “you organize and everyone will lose their jobs”.

One year I remember that organization was talked about by my dad around Christmas time. They shutdown the factory for a couple of weeks (to really hurt the workers during the holidays)and sent out letters saying that unions were responsible for the shutdown and this would only continue if they organized.

Another time when asking my grandpa about unions he told me that the owner of the factory took good care of employees and didn’t need a union. That his boss would throw a big Annual party with raffles and a $1000 grand prize. But if anyone ever thought about a union, all parties would be canceled and lots of people laid off. It was part of his speech almost every year.

Of course my blue collar immigrant family would be scared of unions, their employers basically held their jobs over their heads.


I agree, the teacher union strikes in Chicago ground the whole system to a halt with 300,000 kids not in school. If prolonged it could've seriously hampered childrens' progress in education.

Teachers quitting by the droves because of terrible working conditions and inability to make ends meet also hampers children’s education. Be thankful they still care enough to go on strike.

Is that example in #1 actually your own personal experience and observation or did you just read about it somewhere? Because it's a classic trope that gets trotted out in anti-union literature. I remember an anti-union guy at one of my old jobs who also railed against that exact "wait for the person whose job it is to move that box" example. It seems so eerie to see two different people who had the exact same word-for-word experience. Almost as if they both simply read about it somewhere.

For #2, AFAIK http://levels.fyi is a collection of self-reported anecdotes, and probably skews way high. Nobody's going to go e-brag on the Internet how much they make if they feel their salary is low, but you'll definitely get self-reports from those handful of guys making $500K. Take that site with a grain of salt.


Levels includes bonuses, and that is not gauaranteed. But we still make crazy base salaries for the comparative amount of work we need to do (I did 3x the work at my last job for the same faang base-salary)

It's not entirely about negotiating personal benefits, but also about collective power and being able to have a meaningful say on how the business is conducted. For example, take Google's DragonFly (censored Chinese search engine) incident. Morally objectionable to the engineering staff, but it required internal collective action to stand up against the smell of money in the management's metaphorical nose.

Let’s not forget the extensive links to organized crime (a relatively unique feature of American versus european unions): https://www.iww.org/history/myths/11

The IWW page on this is hilariously forthright.

> First of all, it is a myth that organized crime, including the infamous MAFIA, controls all or even most North American labor unions. (It is true that the Teamsters, International Longshore Association (ILA), Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers Union (HERE), Seafarers International Union (SIU), and various Building Trades unions have had to deal with MAFIA corruption). Many AFL-CIO rank & filers have fought long and hard to purge any and all forms of corruption (MAFIA and otherwise) from their unions; it's an ongoing struggle.


This is a controversial opinion, but HN appears roughly split on this issue. I doubt this post will be downvoted more than its inverse would. Please don't include pre-emptive comments about your post being downvoted, they're tedious to read.

The purpose of a union is not efficiency but the counterbalancing of power, and power is often odious in its ability to cover wrongs. For some this value is sufficient to spring into action.

> All of my experiences

Why not detail some of those experiences? It would lend credibility to your post; because it otherwise reads to me like you’re repeating what you’ve heard about unions.


Sure.

Had some bullshit waste of time while setting up a booth at GDC because we weren't allowed to unload the boxes with our stuff, or something like that.

I was born and raised in Uruguay, and cases of people openly stealing from their workplace that couldn't be fired because the union would strike until they were reinstated were commonplace, both in the public and private sector.

Someone close to me who owns a factory, again in Uruguay, was for some time under threat from the unions, who openly tried to bankrupt the company, so that they could take ownership, due to a law that entitles them to do that.

I've seen unions impede technological progress in every sector because it threatens their jobs. Who cares if it improves the experience for the customers / citizens? They take the whole company / city hostage to get away with what they want, and/or damage the premises (https://www.elobservador.com.uy/nota/asi-quedo-la-planta-de-...). That's also why in Montevideo every bus has two people, one to drive, the other sitting next to the automatic ticket selling machine, to put your money in, and hand you the ticket it prints. Who pays for having twice the people needed in that bus? The people.

I've seen the unions used to destabilize governments of parties who weren't ideologically affiliated with the people running the unions (the extreme left).


> All of my experiences related to unions have been negative.

Except the 8 hour work-day and weekends, I guess? https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/sep...


Or really any social benefits carved out from the state which have relied on unions for their mass organizing and backing of political candidates who have one them.

That was in 1938. The status quo is different today, so that doesn't really apply.

One of the biggest employee complaints at almost every tech company I've worked at is a lack of work life balance. Most of my friends who still work in the bay struggle with having a life outside of work. Wanting to work 40 hours a week can be seen as not being dedicated enough, or not being a cultural fit.

I think that's one of the most relevant needs that would drive tech workers to form a union.


The status quo is people being pressured into overtime, and having to juggle multiple part-time jobs that add up to more than 40 hours/week.

It still applies, and the status quo can get worse as soon as worker's power wanes.


So, just because politifact rated the "Henry Ford created the 40-hr workweek" false, doesn't mean that unions were the ones to create it.

As a society, employers were trending towards 40-hr workweeks and weekends. That was already where society was going voluntarily, so the fact that unions got legislation near the end of the trend (when voting it through would've been so much easier) isn't that much of a victory. It was unnecessary and just a play to take credit.


> As a society, employers were trending towards 40-hr workweeks and weekends. That was already where society was going voluntarily,

You write as if this happened on its own, 'voluntarily', by 'society' as a whole, when in fact it was driven mainly by one part of society - workers:

> "Demands for the five-day week began to proliferate in 1919, a year in which 4 million American workers went out on strike," said Priscilla Murolo, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College. "That was about 20 percent of the industrial labor force."


The problem with FAANG jobs is that while the pay is good, they expect a lot out of you. Look at how Googles offices are designed to keep workers on site. Sure the money is good and the perks are nice, but if you're doing 60 hours a week instead of the 40 that you signed up for then the deal doesn't seem all that good in hindsight.

I used to work at Google. That's a myth. I wasn't doing 60 hours a week, and I didn't know anyone who was doing more than 40 unless they really really wanted to.

I mostly agree. My dad was in a union and it was terrible and sometimes even violent. However, if knowledge workers don't change something soon, we're looking at a low wage future. We already lack a seat at the table as management treats developers as fungible commodities to be used up, tossed out, and more hired. They are importing as much cheap labor to the states as possible and undermining quality and even just our middle class lifestyle. I don't hate people from India, but god damn, could some of you please grow a fucking spine, please? We need you to say "no" to something, somewhere, sometime. You badly want our way of life and I don't blame you, but accepting low wages and 1800s style working hours does not help you achieve that. You will just make the next generation the working poor. There are few enough opportunities for Americans these days, why undermine the few that are left? Do the rich truly have to have it all?

It's not that I got into software development because of money, but I want to point out that I made a ton of sacrifices in order to get educated, worked hard to secure the jobs I did with the quality I did them at, and continue to sacrifice to stay current with technology so as to remain employed into my 40s.

In this business, if you are young, you don't know what you don't know--the longer you are in, the harder it is to stay in. It's great in your 20s and 30s with all the disposable income and then all of a sudden you've got a wife and two kids and bills to pay and things start to falter right when you need them to be stable--and that is why we need representation of some kind. We need bargaining, or some kind of tenure, or something, so that when you're mid-career and late career you aren't just a throwaway non-person. Because I just watched it happen at my own company: My firm laid off 3000 people, mostly men in their 50s. Of course some "dead wood" got let go, too, but any fool can see what is going on when they lay off the older workers while still hiring the H1Bs and growing the "offshore" teams and what I keep wondering is "why are foreigners involved in AMERICAN health care at all?"




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