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Information Technology Workers: an IT Labor Union?
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.
CyberUnions a podcast and community about FOSS and labor.
Also, some programmers and IT people are represented by unions like AFSCME and CWA at their workplaces as part of a bargaining unit.
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:
Articles about organizing workers, and organizations:
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.
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.
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
Other Articles About Work