Information Technology Workers: an IT Labor Union?

If you have reached this page through a search engine, and are interested in IT organizations, please check out Bright Future Jobs. Their URL is http://brightfuturejobs.org/

This is a short list of links to groups that organize or try to organize programmer labor unions and other computer-based worker unions, as well as lobby organizations. This document is undergoing constant revision.

Page News
I just found out about CyberUnions a podcast and community about FOSS and labor.
Starting a new page about the computer programmer's exemption from overtime laws.

Threads
H1-B visas: Would lifting the cap really attract the 'brightest and best' to the US
Should IT Be Unionized? on TechRepublic
Answer thread about an IT union.
A Tech Republic thread about the direction of US industrial policy and Andy Grove's ideas..
A thread on Tech Republic about recruiters and salaries.
Old thread discussing work conditions in IT.
Old thread on Linux.com about Cyberlodge, with many interesting comments.
Why programmers are not subject to labor laws
Thread about the glut of STEM workers, following a Vivek Wadhwa column.
10 common career myths

Offshoring
This is an incomplete list of articles. Stuff I've come across. The coming collapse of IT jobs and wages.
No Easy Answers on Offshoring.

Resources

Techsunite has a good list:
http://www.techsunite.org/resources/orgs/index.cfm

In Europe: UNI IBITS IT
In Asia: UNI-APPRO IBITS news

CyberUnions a podcast and community about FOSS and labor.
http://www.programmersguild.org/
http://www.ieeeusa.org/
http://www.washtech.org/
http://www.techsunite.org/
American Radio Association, AFL-CIO
http://www.iitw.org/
http://www.dpeaflcio.org/about.htm - an AFL CIO department for professionals
http://www.ifpte.org/ - organizes NASA and other engineers
IWW 560

Also, some programmers and IT people are represented by unions like AFSCME and CWA at their workplaces as part of a bargaining unit.

Somewhat related:
http://www.freelancersunion.org/
http://www.sage.org/
http://www.acm.org/public-policy

Wikipedia has a good list of Computer related organizations including the major professional organizations.

Articles about "open source unionism" or unions for workers without an organized workplace:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020624/rogers
http://www.heardny.org/Open%20Source.htm
http://www.linux.com/articles/29390
http://papers.nber.org/papers/w13850 (new paper on results of Working America)

Articles about organizing workers, and organizations:
http://www.dpeaflcio.org/conference_2005_materials/ - good articles here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_studies

Also, computer user groups like LAMP SIG, LA JUG, LiLAX, Geek Dinners, and others can be a place to self-organize.

Existing organizations tend to lean toward professional associations, with the trade unions somewhat resembling professional associations, except they undertake collective bargaining. One overriding goal appears to be to gain more public respect for programmers and system administrators, and to raise the status of engineers.

These efforts seem to bear little fruit for programmers, and the field has been flooded by a number of simple "certification" programs.

The big public policy issues are offshoring work, and the H1-B visa program. Different organizations take different positions, ranging from allying with the American anti-immigrant movement - complete with nativism, to focusing primarily on stopping the movement of jobs overseas.

Except for the IEEE, these movements and lobbies seem to have little money, and not much teeth.

[There isn't a clear direction for international organizing, particularly in building bridges to collaborate with workers in India, to help them get reasonable work hours and equivalent work conditions. Due to the amount of trans-national work being done, and the level of immigration, it seems like such an alliance would be necessary.]

The National Writers Union voted in 1998 to not spend resources to organize programmers. Programmers may join if they qualify under other rules, but, the organization voted not to spend money to do any organizing.

Articles

Halo 4 contractor staff member calls for unionisation of the games industry
Old article about the IAM CyberLodge
Mention of a Palestinian IT union
IBEW article on missclassification as independent contractors
Programming as Labor
Has Open Source Reached Its Limits?
The Information Proletariat in the Era of Globalization
BLS says Computer Programming jobs will decline from 2009 to 2016
Composers consider unionization - a nonprofit professional organization considers becoming a union.

Computer Manufacturing

I don't know much about computer manufacturing, but had the idea that I wanted to buy from labor friendly manufacturers. That is already hard enough to find in America, but, it's complicated when you're going international. Computers are made with parts from many countries, and assembled in different countries. It's totally globalized. So, it's difficult to answer the question, "was my equipment made with union labor?" or "were workers making this computer treated well?" Chances are, the answer is "no". What follows are some links to stories and resources.

NEW I found a link from a story on This American Life, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory, for an organization called SACOM, which is a watchdog organiztion in Hong Kong. They have a study about work conditions for suppliers of major brand computer manufacturers.

Also see Good Electronics, and China Labor Watch.

Alibaba is a global wholesale site, and gives you an idea of what's out there. A starting point for reading: Contract manufacturers, also called EMS, make the electronics. These EMS companies are sometimes larger than the companies, like Apple, Dell, Cisco, that use the EMS. Another starting point for reading Supply chain management.

Dell to close Irish factory, move to Poland
Foxconn sued journos for exposing bad labor practices (they make the iPod and pay their workers the China minimum wage). Foxconn in Finland hired union busters. Foxconn forced to form union.

Other Resources

Davis-Bacon and Related Acts at the DOJ.
California Prevailing Wages
Fact Sheet #17E:Exemption for Employees in Computer-Related Occupations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Trade Adjustment Assistance is a government program to assist workers who have had their jobs sent to another country. TAA and ATAA at the Dept. of Labor

Labor Education and Resources Network

Other Articles About Work

Why I Don't Do Unpaid Overtime and Neither Should You
Anarkhos - some angry guy who is probably a programmer.