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      I once turned down an AWS sponsorship for a conf after negotiations because they sent us a 10 page contract 5 days before the conf. I won’t say details about the contents, but if you have dealings with them, you should read it closely. It’s not only work contracts where they are problematic.

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      Unions would help remove this chicanery from the already-grossly-imbalanced empower/employee relationship.

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        Probably, but unions aren’t a panacea. Unions can lead to some bad things too. From my experience I’m not sure which I prefer.

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          Unions are not a panacea, as in they don’t solve all problems and even come with some of their own, but they exist to deal with exactly this situation. This feels a little like discussing an article about nails and pointing out that hammers aren’t a panacea.

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          “Unions” as a concept is mainly just “allowing workers to form a structure to gain negotiation power”. There’s thousands of implementations of that concept, which makes it hard to have a discussion about “unions” on that level as much as for “political parties” or “enterprises” globally.

          Even as a business owner, I got a lot of support from my union, which makes me quite happy with my particular implementation, but I appreciate there’s tons of problems even in mine, specifically around my business.

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            By that definition, you might consider callout-blog-posts like these as a form of union.

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              Where’s the collaborating structure? This is an individuals post.

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                Message boards (such as this one) and social media, I suppose.

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                  That’s not collaboration. That’s marketing and communication.

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          Wouldn’t the logical conclusion be to prefer power being more dispersed between employers/unions, rather than concentrated? We should fight concentration of power, as it is always weaponized against us.

          The only argument I can think of is that the union can interfere at times when they aren’t strictly necessary.

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            No, the logical conclusion is to prefer power being more dispersed between employers and employees. Unions are one way of achieving that, but they present their own problems which ought to be considered. Unions can pervert incentives. Where I work (UAW) there is no reason to work harder because you will never get ahead from it (unless you’re trying to be a supervisor, but there aren’t many of those). Sometimes people will work really slow to make sure they don’t do better than standard. Our supervisors won’t even tell us “good job today” unless it’s in private because they’re worried about the union. It’s also basically impossible to fire someone no matter how bad they are at their job. I’m not sure we make more money either, the last place I worked started a bit lower but increased the longer you worked there.

            I pointed out that they aren’t a panacea because I get the impression that the people advocating for them in tech have no experience with them and aren’t fully considering the implications. But maybe UAW is the only one with these problems.

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              Individual approaches can pervert incentives just as much. It does for example lead to situations where motivations are entirely self-driven. I’ve seen many projects put on hold because people personal goals for the next raise in the company didn’t align with the goals of their team. That included that their goal became meaningless over the year!

              I’m not saying unionisation cannot lead to weird situations such as yours, but that also usually a sign of a business where this still go too well. For example, when talking to union people in the insurances sector in Germany, they are keenly aware that the whole sector is being automated, so for example some of their strategy is currently bargaining with the employers to migrate people to either other parts of the company or going half-time positions instead of straight-out being fired. Those are very knowledgeable people with high interest in finding a good solution for all sides.

              I do agree with your reading of union advocacy in tech: most of the time, employees figure out they want to unionise when they already have an open conflict with their upper management. Even if they manage, they will be in a situation where management gives them not quarter (why should they, they didn’t before) and that will also lead to them never giving a win away anymore.

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            bosses can interfere at times when they aren’t strictly necessary

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        This threat, along with wage suppression and employee control in general, is why big tech is pushing for more H1Bs for India.

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      Just for comparison - here (CZ in EU) a company is required to pay you for the period when such an agreement is in effect and prevents you to perform an competing job.

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        He mentions that in the post. To my understanding, that’s even EU-wide (edit: see below, it is not). (it definitely is in Germany)

        The reasoning in Germany is definitely that employee mobility is seen as a good thing and therefore strongly protected.

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          It’s not EU-wide. In the Netherlands non-compete clauses are valid (and quite generic and common, even, particularly in tech). A judge can overturn it if it prevents you from finding work at all, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid.

          One of the worst rumours I’ve heard was about a company where people left not because they had better offers elsewhere, but because work conditions were shitty. Management threatened to invoke the nc to keep them from abandoning ship altogether. I wonder how much of that was true, and how it went.

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            Right, thanks!

            Now that you mention that, I know about at least on Netherlands company trying to enforce a non-compete on an employee of their German subsidiary, being confused when he insisted on the conditions mandated by law.

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      I never sign these. In most cases, the company will just remove them from the offer or employee agreement. It wasn’t until I had offers in Chicago where they refused, and I had to walk away from two jobs:


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      Further, any employee subject to one of these agreements who moves to California finds themselves no longer bound.

      This line from the article is not correct: https://www.businessjustice.com/is-my-out-of-state-noncompete-agreement-enforceable-in-californi.html

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      I turned down an interview at Workday for the same reason. They wanted me to sign an NDA just for the interviewing process. I was also met with the same “we don’t enforce it” lines. If that’s the case, why have it? I’m not going to sign something like that, sorry.