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    Might be a good use of the show tag, since this is a lobster’s content–not just product spam.

    1. 20

      I misread this the first time as “lobsters’ content” and now I’m feeling all sappy because lobsters was the first place that really enjoyed all my technical writing, which encouraged me to keep pushing forward with it. Y’all are the best <3

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        V.v.V

        1.  

          Awesome! Looking forward to getting to read this.

      1. 1

        This is tagged wrong in at least one case–meta is for Lobsters-related bikeshedding and discussion.

        Also, posting digests of articles is not something that’s generally helpful: for best results, please link individual articles. We don’t want to get overrun with link spam.

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          #politics

          Unionising, workers rights, vaguely approaching topics like socialism; this is hardcore politics, glad to see it at the top of lobste.rs.

          1. 8

            I definitely felt that there was a tag missing for this story. Not #politics, because that’s off-topic in the general, but a subset like #workers–which is obviously relevant to the vast majority of us here.

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              This story is completely political, it has +59 and only -3 off topic, so it doesn’t hold that the subject of politics is off topic here, otherwise this should have been removed by a moderator or downvoted by the community.

              1. 5

                It is political and relevant, but not all political content is relevant. The vast majority isn’t, like electoral or cultural or international (non-tech) politics.

                What I’m saying is, #politics is too wide. There is a subset deserving of a tag, and this story is in that subset.

                The subset of politics relevant to Lobste.rs is tech worker organizing / rights / struggles. Stories such as the one about secret pay cap deals between companies would belong there as well.

                1. 2

                  Totally agree, of course lobste.rs is about/for technology, not politics as a separate domain. But isn’t every lobste.rs tag implied that it’s about that subject at the intersection with technology, not the subject itself? Lobste.rs does happily cover the intersection of tech with biology and cognitive science; maths and history; geography and psychology, so why exclude the intersection with one particular subject?

                  I agree that the definition of the subset and the terms used to refer to it is critically important, not least because of the amount of raw fear present here that ‘politics’ as a subject has a violent power to destroy this community.

                  Would it be reasonable to expand the subset to include the social implications and considerations of technology, as for example is voted +69 here

                  1. 1

                    Yes. We have tags for art, persons, philosophy, and satire that are enormous subjects in their own right. I’ve removed a few otherwise pretty neat links for not intersecting substantially with computing.

                    I’m very reluctant to add a politics tag as it’s very hard to draw a bright line around in the way it is, say, illumos. The political discussions we have (often nominally about licensing, codes of conduct, specific famous people/businesses/groups) account for the majority of threads that cause moderator heartburn - removing the outright abusive comments is not so hard; after battle lines have been drawn I burn a bunch of time and attention eg. messaging people to remind them that downvotes and flags are not for following people around the site and punishing them.

                    1. 1

                      yeah, I don’t think #politics is the right way to go, but I think there might be some other middleground here which opens space for the kind of valuable conversations that have happened in this post. If I can come up with a constructive suggestion I will.

                2. 2

                  I don’t know, maybe a #politics tag would bring a negative connotation, because of the word itself? It’s sorta how I interpreted the comment you’re replying to.

              2. 5

                I had to finally quit reading HN because so much of this type of stuff. Please don’t bring it to lobste.rs next. Really don’t want to see everyone’s opinion on politics, just javascript frameworks if that’s not too much to ask.

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                  see I really don’t want to see javascript frameworks

                2. 2

                  This is politics about as much as arguing over pay professionally is politics.

                  Inclusionism of “politics” would irreperably damage the site and destroy its culture.

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                  C-level executives and board members antagonize employees and threaten unemployment, knowing full well that they’ll never miss a meal or a mortgage payment and that their children will still have health insurance and good schools: freedom.

                  Workers thinking they should organize to present common concerns to management: not freedom.

                  Remember, they only call it class warfare when we fight back.

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                    Workers organizing is freedom.

                    Workers being coerced to join or pay an organization is not freedom.

                    This is true even when the organization itself exists to protect freedom.

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                      Workers being coerced to join or pay an organization is not freedom.

                      Yes and no. My being forced to pay taxes isn’t freedom. My living in a society with roads and clean water and educated children (and my own education, which given my home life at the time wouldn’t have happened without compulsory and free education) dramatically increases my overall freedom, far more than was lost by paying taxes.

                      The power imbalance between most employers and most employees is such that the vast majority of people are almost-serfs in all but name. The tech sector can sometimes forget that because of the high salaries and relatively competitive employment market…but for most people, their health and home are literally tied to the whims of someone who views them as nothing more than expendable labor. Sure they’re “free” to change jobs, but saying “you’re free to risk your children’s health!” isn’t really freedom at all.

                      Correcting that power imbalance might take away some freedom, but it would add a lot more freedom on the other side of the balance sheet, IMHO.

                      Universal health care and a strong social safety net is the other way to fix this, if labor unions are determined to be too problematic. That allows you the freedom to change jobs without worrying that you couldn’t pay for your child’s healthcare.

                      To provide a real example: a friend of mine has a chronically ill daughter. Without health insurance he literally cannot afford to keep his daughter alive. Thanks to the repeated attempts at removal of the preexisting condition clause by the GOP recently, he runs the very real risk that he could end up with his daughter uninsured and potentially in dire straits if he were to lose his job. His employer knows this and, as the provider of his health insurance, could demand literally anything of him. If he were unemployed long enough that he could no longer pay for COBRA between employers, he’d literally be unable to keep his daughter alive. That is not freedom; that it’s not the government who holds the power is immaterial.

                      (Note that his employer is awesome and doesn’t do anything bad, but that’s not true of everyone and it shouldn’t have to be…)

                      1. 4

                        I think you made a great case for universal healthcare – which can be argued to either side of the political fence. If you lean left, universal healthcare is a right and a true good. If you lean right, universal healthcare drives competition, flexibility and allows people to create new companies and more around more quickly.

                        That said, I am not sure you made a great case for unions. Unions don’t fix the fundamental problem around healthcare in any form. You still can’t leave to a non-union shop, can’t leave to start your own company, etc without giving it up. If anything it makes it more entrenched.

                        1. 5

                          You seem to be fixating on a single example, not the thrust of his argument. You do realize other first world countries have universal healthcare and wayyy higher union participation than the US? There must be other things unions are useful for.

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                        The point of labour organizing is not ‘freedom’, especially not in the anglo sense of formal freedom on the marketplace, that everyone on the English-speaking internet seems to assume to be the only true and natural kind of freedom there is. It’s merely improving the conditions of labour, nothing more, nothing less.

                        That said, unions can be terrible because they’re often loci of concessions, nationalism, taming, and other reactionary politics, rather than struggle.

                        1. 11

                          They can have issues. Most of the problems I see are caused by apathy and/or incentives at the top with problems they cause being externalities. Unions also seem to stop more problems than they create. They also counter the trend paid with political bribes to make people easy to fire without cause in as many states as possible. That’s on top of executive compensation always going up in companies that “can’t afford” good wages or benefits for production works. These all lead me to be pro-union in general.

                          1. 4

                            Idk how it is in the US honestly, but that part of my comment wasn’t anti-union in general just noting that they definitely have limits in a political sense.

                            However for workers they’re obviously a huge net-positive.

                            1. 1

                              Oh ok. That makes more sense.

                          2. 3

                            You make a good point. The immediate goal of a union is not freedom of its workers. I think workers unionize, though, because they desire more freedom. Limiting work hours means freedom to choose what to do with the rest of the day, for example.

                            1. 3

                              Yes, that’s one of the broader conceptions of freedom I was referring to:)

                          3. 11

                            I agree with you here. I’m all for workers being able to collectively bargain for their own interests, but not at the expense of imposing on the liberty of others.

                            I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

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                              I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

                              You can’t have your cake and eat it too: if the strength of your coworkers’ union results in your employer entering into a favorable health insurance contract with an insurer, are you really going to reject that insurance and try to negotiate your own? Even if the insurance you purchase will invariably be more expensive and will cover you less?

                              1. 8

                                I don’t really care what a third party does with regards to my contractual agreement with my employer. The agreement I enter in is between myself and the company employing me.

                                In your hypothetical, I may indeed choose to cover myself. It’s hard to guess without actually having the numbers and going through a negotiation. I likely value different things at different levels than a potential union does, and would be better served negotiating based on my preferences rather than letting a group decide the terms of my contract.

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                                  Except you would end up with a significantly less favourable contract, as you lack the negotiating leverage of the union.

                                  1. 10

                                    I don’t understand why you care so much about my contract. It’s up to me to decide what is favorable for me and what isn’t. I have the leverage of my own skills and experience, and that I can take a better offer from a different employer at any time.

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                                      I don’t care about you, per se, but if everybody privileges abstract notions of freedom over concrete gains from their employment, you have a collective action problem and everybody ends up strictly worse off.

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                                        Strictly worse off by whose definition? I’m under no moral obligation to sacrifice my own values to appease yours. If you’re worried about me not joining your union, then make your union attractive enough that I want to join it over negotiating my contract myself. Don’t force me into a contractual agreement that I never consented to.

                                        1. 9

                                          If you’re worried about me not joining your union, then make your union attractive enough that I want to join it over negotiating my contract myself.

                                          In all likelihood, it will be attractive - but the benefits it confers will end up available to all employees, not just those in the union.

                                          Now, if the choice was a strict “join the union and receive benefits which it negotiated” or “do not join the union and you are solely responsible for negotiating every part of your employment” I’d be happy, and it sounds like you would be as well.

                                          Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union? If your answer is yes, I’d applaud your consistency.

                                          The problem that @jfb identifies is that most people would say “no” - they’d chose to benefit from things negotiated by a union they’re not a member of.

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                                            My wife has a saying: Good and Evil don’t exist, it’s just selflessness and selfishness.

                                            Eric is talking right around the crux of the matter, but he missed something.

                                            I’m under no moral obligation to sacrifice my own values to appease yours.

                                            Sure you are, buddy. You aren’t under any legal obligation, nor any ethical obligation. The obligation is in fact, a moral obligation.

                                            When you throw your lot in with a group, you are sacrificing some of your autonomy in exchange for the group’s strength. Due to network effects, many groups are stronger than their strongest member, but yes, sometimes a member will become weaker by joining. (I’m ignoring here the second order effects like community respect gained due to being described as selfless, etc.)

                                            EDIT: reworked the bottom, sorry.

                                            1. 7

                                              Sure you are, buddy. You aren’t under any legal obligation, nor any ethical obligation. The obligation is in fact, a moral obligation.

                                              You and I have very different moral preferences if you think it’s ok to impose your values on someone else without their consent.

                                              When you throw your lot in with a group, you are sacrificing some of your autonomy in exchange for the group’s strength.

                                              When I join a company I am entering an agreement with an employer in which I exchange my labor for (primarily monetary) compensation.

                                              Your assumption that joining a company means joining an subset of coworkers for an unspecified goal of “group strength” seems entirely arbitrary to me.

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                                                Look, the simple fact is that unions allow for more favorable price fixing by Labor.

                                                The benefit should be obvious.

                                                1. 3

                                                  You join the work force as a worker and that makes you a worker. There are social expectations from that and you can be aware of them well before deciding to join the workforce. There’s an unwritten social contract and in the same way by living in a nation-state you’re implicitly a citizen, by joining the workforce you’re implicitly a worker and then subject to all the moral obligations that come with it. Most of them are not protected by law, because in non-socialist states one of the goals of the legal system is to repress the worker, but nonetheless you’re held responsible by other workers. This, most of the times just boils down to “he’s such an asshole” but in other times it meant more than that, because your action was directly and undeniably hurting your peers.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    You and I have very different moral preferences if you think it’s ok to impose your values on someone else without their consent.

                                                    Don’t worry, I’m not in a position to compel you! That would be wrong. I may only ask.

                                                    1. 3

                                                      But, that isn’t the case we are discussing is it? We are talking about compulsory unionization. Join the union or no job seems to be what they are referencing.

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Right, the closed shop. It’s a way to limit individual liberty to allow for stronger collective liberty. I’m perfectly ok with this, but there are those who have a different conception of liberty who might not be. I think it’s totally wrong, but it’s not a nonsensical way to conceptualize the relationships between people.

                                                2. 5

                                                  Now, if the choice was a strict “join the union and receive benefits which have been established” or “do not join the union and you are solely responsible for negotiating every part of your employment” I’d be happy, and it sounds like you would be as well.

                                                  Yep, perfectly fine with me.

                                                  Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union? If your answer is yes, I’d applaud your consistency.

                                                  In a contract negotiation between myself and my employer, it’s impossible for me to know what parts of their offering are influenced by the presence of the union, or to what extent they are. For example, imagine an employer that would negotiate for some sort of health insurance regardless of existence of a union. If the existence of a union changes that relationship via a change of insurer, I can’t just ignore it and keep whatever insurance plan I chose before the union came in.

                                                  I don’t care to take advantage of a union. I won’t take drinks from your “union members” fridge or take breaks on your union schedule and hope nobody notices. I will, however, negotiate the best deal for myself with my employer, and not handicap myself by trying to figure out what I would or would not have access to if the union didn’t exist. The union is an outside agent that I don’t have control over, and the extent that its existence benefits extend beyond its members are for the union to figure out.

                                                  1. 5

                                                    Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union?

                                                    I certainly wouldn’t refuse all time off because the union gets some, but I wouldn’t automatically assume to have the same. If I get three weeks, and the new union contract gives four, then I guess I’m stuck with three.

                                                    But observing that the company gives four weeks off is a data point I might consider when asking for more time off. That’s not strictly a union thing, though. If I saw a non union worker getting more time off, I might want that too.

                                                    Is that how it works in the non union case? If you hear a coworker got a raise, do you refuse to ask for your own?

                                          2. 1

                                            But the situation of a union being part of the negotiation is not much different than the situation where just you and the employer negotiate. Typically in a non-unionised company your boss is heavily restricted in what they can offer you by company policy and HR. Unionization is the same kind of rules just optimized for other goals.

                                            The notion that you are somehow more free negotiating in non-unionised jobs is - I don’t know - self-deception?

                                            I started at a unionized company which gave me a 20% pay increase that my previous employer was unwilling to match (their competitive offer was 10% after telling me before I applied that they could notpay me more). Now the union negotiates for me the annual pay increases. I can also negotiate directly with my employer in the sense that my employer can put me into a more senior position which means I would get more 💰.

                                            If the union contract was bad, i could still negotiate with my employer that they pay me above the union contract. But since the union contract is quite generous and above the typical competition I would have a hard time negotiating that in the same way as i have a hard time negotiating for that kind of a salary at non-unionised competitors.

                                            1. 1

                                              , i could still negotiate with my employer that they pay me above the union contract

                                              It was my understanding this was explicitly not allowed by union agreements. This is because to have collective bargaining power and a “union contract” requires that contract to be adhered to by all union members. Can you link me to a union that says you can negotiate individually in their rules? How does that even work – so you get a floor but then can ignore the ceiling and push for whatever additional you want? Doesn’t that take a lot of the positive upside away from a contract from the employer side?

                                              1. 1

                                                My union has around 16 pay levels plus some kind of an individual components. If you want to earn more than the highest level you can definitely get such a non-union contract (it’s what management gets in any case).

                                                You can also negotiate for being grouped into a different category.

                                                You could also try to be hired as a contractor (this would mean that you have the biggest negotiation freedom).

                                                Anyways the question is pretty theoretical in the sense that the union contract is fairly good and on average better than what individuals with the same competency get on the free market here.

                                        2. 8

                                          “I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.”

                                          In our unionized company, everyone gets the benefits and small restrictions that come with the work of the union and its members. Some people think only the union members should get benefits union negotiates. We know how badly that might end up, though. Especially fights internal to the company. We don’t push that. We do encourage people to highlight benefits union brought: ending fire-without-cause of hard workers; reducing perjury on your references; great health/dental for $25 a month; right to sleep between shifts (a bit…); paid holidays, sick leave, and vacations; fair-ish, standard pay based on position, experience, and time in company. I’m not saying it’s best terms but better than most competitors.

                                          That said, I see your position. That people choose competitors to union companies for their different terms supports it a bit. :) I’ve considered letting union people get their negotiated terms while others get theirs. The first thing I ask those people is: “Do you want to work for least they can pay over minimum wage, overtime without overtime, unsafe working conditions (maybe even no bathroom), have little to no benefits, and potentially be fired without cause after years of hard work with bosses giving you no or falsified reference? And while we get the opposite?” Outside high-pay areas like highly-skilled techs, most companies are giving employees as little as they can. They get more commoditized without even being sure they’ll get a job reference for a better job. Might have to endure a lot to get it in some companies. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity.

                                          Now, if you do, there’s another thing to consider. These companies that are offering you a good deal at some five to six digit wage might be pocketing multiples of that with folks in suits doing less than you getting a bigger cut or higher cut vs beneficial work ratio. They will similarly be paying lobbyists on Washington and at state levels similarly large sums to reduce what you can gain at an individual level. The unions are one of few groups lobbying for people like you. If more technical workers unionized, then there’d be more lobbying effort toward getting such individuals better deals. That sector also has the kind of money where donations and campaigns might bring some serious results in terms of expected compensation, work environment, better share of I.P. ownership or equity, paid leave (maybe maternity leave), or even better housing in high-rent areas. Again, may not interest you. I just wanted to mention people dealing with you might have been paying politicians to reduce size of those deals, your perks, or rights as a worker.

                                          1. 4

                                            Thanks for the thoughtful response. Your company’s union sounds like it’s doing good work, and you’ve done a good job making a case for it. I would not rule out joining a union without looking at the terms of membership, but I would also be extra wary of joining a company that had compulsory union membership.

                                            I don’t have a problem with people making more money than me at the same company, regardless of their beneficial work to pay ratio (which I can’t assess anyway), or what kind of clothes they wear ;)

                                            As the lobbying question, there is a high chance I would make the ethical judgement not to join a company (or union, for that matter) based on their lobbying efforts.

                                            As an aside, I appreciate your posts and comments on Lobsters in general; anything from nickpsecurity is must-read for me.

                                            1. 1

                                              I appreciate the kind words! I was hoping some of us could chill the thread a bit. It seems like you just prefer to have more insight into and control of job or other commitments letting other people do their thing. A union shop may or may not be right for you depending on how flexible the terms are for non-members. Glad you would consider turning down an offer if it supports corruption. Most wouldn’t.

                                            2. 2

                                              reducing perjury on your references

                                              Are you referencing bad-references as a way of punishment? I didn’t realize that was a common enough thing to warrant protection from.

                                              1. 1

                                                Many poverty or working class people I know has either experienced it or had to mitigate it with careful exits knowing it could happen. The middle class and up folks with more to loose or carry with them usually play exits safe because they know it can happen. I don’t know how often it does happen to them, though. I know there’s laws in some countries where they have to give you references without any badmouthing. Apparently, it happened enough to make laws against it over there.

                                                Not here, though. Still can get hit with the shit.

                                            3. 3

                                              this is slightly tangential to the direction this went in, but I’m curious. Why? Bargaining as a group is always more advantageous than doing so individually.

                                              1. 5

                                                I’ve worked in a unionized industry; it’s not the utopia you make it out to be. While the average income may be higher under collective bargaining, this is done by making some people worse off than they would be under individual bargaining.

                                                There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union. Honestly, I’d prefer to work for less remuneration than to work with under performers. Particularly when you know those under performers are getting paid the same amount as you. It’s completely demoralizing.

                                                1. 4

                                                  “There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union.”

                                                  I don’t have any hard data, only 8 years personal experience working in a (partially) unionised white collar job.

                                                  It might vary union by union or company by company but there’s patterns I noticed at management level. My union won’t protect people who do nothing: only people who work as instructed by management who are written up, suspended, or terminated by poor results of management’s plans. There are people at my company who we can’t seem to get rid of. Management uses union as excuse but I’ve seen no use of established procedures against those workers. It seems management in those areas either lets them talk their way out of it, ignores those that argue or intimidate the most, and gets hard on the more compliant workers (aka easy targets or outlets) that probably don’t deserve it.

                                                  The performance metrics also suck so bad at this company and a lot of others (including non-union) where many workers artificially look like they’re not good workers. Some of these companies fail workers if they don’t achieve a arbitrary expectations with no proof they matter (see Office Space) or from managers without real-world experience. If they do this to everyone or many, then the bad workers just fade into the background of what looks like a problem with everyone. A made up problem. If the requirements were sensible, then most people would meet them visibly working at a steady or fast pace (context dependent) with some barely working and some getting way ahead. The bad workers become much easier to identify, discipline, and/or eliminate with a fair baseline.

                                                  I’ve talked with people in a few other industries that are unionized. They usually have examples of the above two points happening that mostly come from top-down, ignore-workers management and office politics. I still can’t be sure how much “the union” was responsible for workers being hard to get rid of if management was that inept. It’s all the more believable by how much non-union workers and books on management talk about the same failures. My theory is most managers and corporate offices suck in a lot of ways with unions countering them usually in pretty generic ways focusing on what members value most. Outside the focus areas, the rest of the dynamic becomes back and forth battles with plenty of potential inefficiencies. Companies with competent, take-care-of-workers management usually has less of these problems and workers don’t ask for unions. Hmm… ;)

                                                  1. 6

                                                    I agree. Unions are not a panacea for every issue workers may have with a company, and in fact can cause many of their own.

                                                    However, the issues you mention here are also universal:

                                                    While the average income may be higher under collective bargaining, this is done by making some people worse off than they would be under individual bargaining.

                                                    True! But considering the current state of tech salaries, I think that’s acceptable from a macro level view. I say that as one of those that would likely see a pay decrease under a union contract – I tend to negotiate quite a bit with potential employers.

                                                    There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union.

                                                    There are two parts of this argument:

                                                    • Unions tend to keep around poorly performing people longer

                                                    and

                                                    • Unions introduce extra overhead with process into the firing process

                                                    I think both are false personally, and I don’t think there’s any data to prove either, I’d love to be proven wrong! For the first, I’ve personally found the opposite – the bar to entry for IBEW-NECA was much higher than that for non-unionized electricians, and the bar for firing was extremely clear. For the second, process can add more time, but it can also reduce it by clarifying for all the bar for firing. I find in most tech companies, the standard months of bad perf -> PIP -> eventual firing process can take a long time due to trepidation on the part of all parties.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      I think both are false personally, and I don’t think there’s any data to prove either,

                                                      I don’t have any hard data, only 8 years personal experience working in a (partially) unionised white collar job. I’d have thought it was rather logical though that unions would, in their capacity of protecting their members, make firing more difficult. Which can be a good thing, but can also be horrible for org culture and performance.

                                                      The idea of a union as a quality filter is interesting, and not something I’ve come across. IME, unions will take anyone in their industry who’s willing to pay the fee.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Yeah I agree largely. If only there was a set standard for unions across the board — unfortunately their independence produces wildly disparate results at the tail. For that reason I can never begrudge someone that is against a union in good faith too much, I can only make my persuasion towards unionization more effective. Thank you!

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Unions are typically very strict on safety, and few things are more dangerous in the workplace than an incompetent electrician.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            But in an office job, incompetence isn’t dangerous, it’s just useless. Perhaps that accounts for our differing points of view.

                                                          2. 0

                                                            I’d have thought it was rather logical though that unions would, in their capacity of protecting their members, make firing more difficult

                                                            There are also reasons not to make firing harder, notably the reputational damage that would occur (and which, evidenced by you, has already occurred :) ).

                                                            As others have said, unions tend to make the bar for firing very clear, which also tends to mean bureaucratic. This isn’t a bad thing; bureaucracy is what we use in place of trust when trust is hard to establish or otherwise damaged. It’s also not necessarily a slowdown, as others have pointed out.

                                                            It does mean that it’s harder for a manager to fire someone at a whim, or based on a longstanding issue that’s not been written down or communicated. But that’s a good thing. At the very least, documentation helps someone who is fired know why (and therefore what to work on in the next job). At the best, starting the documentation process is enough to turn a bad employee into a productive one.

                                                            It also means that it’s harder to fire someone for something that’s inconvenient to the employer, but not the fault of the employee. In some places, for example, it’s very common for union construction sites to have a position called “lift operator”. It’s been used as an example of union waste in the past – it’s just someone who sits in the elevator and presses the buttons for everyone. But that position was originally created for (and is usually still used for) union members who have had injuries or other physical problems which make it hazardous or impossible for them to do mainline construction work.

                                                            In a union-free situation, that person would be fired, through no fault of their own.

                                                      2. 3

                                                        Bargaining as a group is always more advantageous than doing so individually.

                                                        Not it isn’t. I can’t be more clear than that. There are lots of cases where negotiating as an individual is a far more advantageous position. If your values differ than the group. If your skills differ from the group. If you needs are in direct conflict with the group (for example, you want a 20% raise and don’t care if it is taken from $personX because they are bad at their job). This idea that the group think is magically always what is best for you is fundamentally untrue.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          since neither of us have given data yet, I guess I left myself open to be rebutted in this way. There is data showing that on average union workers make more and have better insurance and benefits in general than non-union workers, but since we haven’t applied that to the tech fields yet, I won’t bring that up as proof. Do keep in mind that for non-tech fields, all of the above is already established as true. in addition:

                                                          for example, you want a 20% raise and don’t care if it is taken from $personX because they are bad at their job

                                                          is not really how raises are ever allocated, and if they were, I think that company needs a union.

                                                          Instead I’ll provide three opinions:

                                                          • Letting yourself be lulled into believing that you have more leverage than you do is pretty common amongst workers in highly competitive fields in bull markets. In a bear market where tech isn’t as desirable, you might change your mind.
                                                          • The only metric you care about in this instance is salary, however collective bargaining would provide benefits far beyond that. It’s (relatively) easy for an individual to argue for more money, not so easy to argue for better healthcare packages or other benefits. In particular, I’d note that a lot of the benefits I have in mind probably wouldn’t apply to single dudes, but would to fathers, women/mothers, or non-binary folks (not even to mention race and religion).
                                                          • To attack the salary question specifically, IMO the huge disparity within and between bands because of negotiation is bad. Responsible companies should tie pretty tight salary ranges to level bands and stick to it. Anything else widens disparities in worker pay. I know that a lot of tech folks will rebut this by saying that their work deserves 300k more than their coworkers, but I think that’s probably not true in 99.99% of cases.
                                                          1. 3

                                                            There is data showing that on average union workers make more and have better insurance and benefits in general than non-union workers

                                                            “average” and “always” are very different – but since this wasn’t the thrust of your argument, we can move on past it.

                                                            is not really how raises are ever allocated

                                                            This is also simply not true – I have sat in exactly such hard decision making meetings. People fired, positions collapsed to give raises to other people, whole teams let go to give budgets to other higher performing teams. You put forth this idea “this isn’t how raises are ever allocated” when it simply isn’t true. It makes it very hard to have a fair and rational discussion with you. Budgets are well – budgets and in bad times hard decisions have to be made.

                                                            Letting yourself being lulled … your mind.

                                                            Absolutely agree. Tech workers commonly think they are worth more than they are. I suspect the Worth despair poster is commonly applicable: https://i.imgur.com/G7yMiXu.jpg (“Just because your necessary doesn’t mean your important.”)

                                                            The only metric you care about in this instance is salary

                                                            No, what I care about is individual interests. Some individuals value salary very highly, others a company car, others vacation, others healthcare, others still childcare and others more disparate and interesting things. I don’t find find fathers, women/mothers or non-binary folks to be any less individual than “single dudes”.

                                                            Anything else widens disparities in worker pay.

                                                            The silent implication here is the disparity in worker pay is a bad thing, which I don’t agree with.

                                                            I know that a lot of tech folks will rebut this by saying that their work deserves 300k more than their coworkers, but I think that’s probably not true in 99.99% of cases.

                                                            Sure, you say 300k to make your strawman seem obviously true – knock an order of magnitude off that number and ask if a reasonable person at the same tier believes they are worth 30k more… hell, even define how you makes these “bands” – arbitrary experience in terms of years?

                                                            1. 1
                                                              1. You’re right that average and always are different. To be more explicit, I only care about the average. Individuals can get pay raises and better benefits for any reason at all, deserved or undeserved, union or no union.
                                                              2. You’re right — what I should’ve said is this: a company that makes the decision to fire one individual purely to justify giving a raise to another is not a place I would want to work. There are a number of factors that go into hiring, firing, and salary decisions, and I believe your original example was a little too simplistic.
                                                              3. In normal working conditions, these groups you described will be looking individually for the benefits they want and need. However, their bosses often don’t or won’t share in desire for or see the value in those benefits for a variety of factors. Some of those are economic — workers and their bosses have completely different world views, especially at tech companies. Unions are a way for workers who are by and large powerless individually to fight for those shared benefits collectively.
                                                              4. Disparity in worker pay is a bad thing from a social standpoint, especially in the same level. If two engineers are both seen as being at staff level, why would they make more than a difference of 50-100k in total comp? It contributes to gender and racial wage gaps for the benefit of a small set of engineers.
                                                              5. I said 300k because I’ve seen it in real life. Two engineers, one male, one female, both evaluated as being senior. One got a sizable equity grant, large sign on and a 15% bonus. The other got a pittance in equity, no sign on, and a 10% bonus. In reality, the gap was much larger because of the appreciation after the initial grant. And standardized levels and bands based on data are pretty standard at most modern startups and FAANG. For an example of what I’m referring to here, Camille Fournier open sourced hers while she was at Rent the Runway as CTO: http://dresscode.renttherunway.com/blog/ladder. Those should be tied to pay bands. Bands and levels should never be tied strictly to YOE.
                                                              1. 1

                                                                To be more explicit, I only care about the average.

                                                                Worth clarifying which average you mean while you’re at it (mean vs median yield quite different answers)

                                                        2. 3

                                                          Assuming your interests are the same as the group’s. Even when they are, priorities differ. Everybody wants more pay and more vacation, but which do you care more about? If I want to work 30 hours for 75% pay, will the union negotiated contract offer that flexibility?

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                                                            It’s more likely to if you are a voting member.

                                                            But your employer will be more than happy to reward you for defecting, until the union is gone and they again have leverage.

                                                            1. 0

                                                              If you are a part of the union, you get to help decide that. :)

                                                              A democratic union would take its workers wants and needs into mind when crafting the contract with the employer. Right now, you can probably only get those benefits by either being very lucky to find a company that supports it, by altering your lifestyle by working on contract, or by earning it after some time proving yourself. Hypothetically, a tech industry with a standardized contract for workers could extend those benefits to all companies, saving you the time of doing one of the above or opening your own business.

                                                          2. 2

                                                            You are agreeing with something I did not say.

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                                                              I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

                                                              I’m assuming a lot by your avatar, but my guess is that you serve a lot less to gain from unionization than, for example, a woman of color. In other words, you still want to benefit from a system that rewards white males even if that mean weakenings an institution that would bargain for people lesser off than you.

                                                              1. 0

                                                                You’re assuming a lot more than you think you are.

                                                                you serve a lot less to gain from unionization than, for example, a woman of color

                                                                A woman of color? Which one? All of them? What color? In what way?

                                                                you still want to benefit from a system that rewards white males

                                                                What system? Where does it reward white males?

                                                                I’m assuming a lot by your avatar

                                                                I’m a minority. The company I work for is less than 5% white.

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                                                                  I have no desire to engage with semantic games with you, especially if it’s just going to be screenshotted to Twitter with ad hominem attacks.

                                                                  Have a good day.

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                                                                    Since I don’t expect you to respond to this message, I’m just posting this to clear my record.

                                                                    I have not played any semantic games. All I asked you to do was concretely define your statements and back them with something other than conjecture. I can’t argue with someone who doesn’t clarify their own argument.

                                                                    Ad hominem is an argumentative strategy, of which I have not engaged in. I think what you want to say is that I insulted you, which is also false, unless you count “white, male Bay Area resident” as an insult.

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                                                                In most of human history, the only people who rented themselves for wages were slaves. Up until recently, wage labor was called wage slavery. It takes a certain mental gymnastics to equate ‘consensual contract with employers’ as liberty. Think about how absurd it is to rent your time, especially for creative work like programming for example.

                                                              3. 5

                                                                “Freedom” is not a useful word, here.

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                                                                  And if the existence/non-existence of a union depends on whether the company can hire non-union workers, you have to decide between one kind of freedom and another.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    Yes, exactly. But how can we choose? Both have merits and consequences.

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                                                                I think monetization will be important. Many YouTube uploaders live off YouTube monetization schemes. Without monetization they won’t move.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  Feature not bug.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    People respond to incentives. In YouTube’s case that looks like “smash that subscribe button”, padding for time, a video every day until burning out, weird toddler videos, etc. It’s hard to design a business model that pays video creators for novel work done sustainably, but doing so could be a cultural shift, especially in programming for children/teens.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      I think some sort of integration/easy onboarding with platforms like liberapay would be an incredibly useful feature for uploaders.

                                                                    2. 1

                                                                      It’s doable! There’s people working to make subscriptions a thing. Right now you can directly back people using Patreon.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Or Liberapay.

                                                                      2. 1

                                                                        Counterpoint youtube’s monetization is so fickle and poorly implemented that most successful youtubers actually live off of patreon or a patreon alternative. Patreon or as someone else said LibrePay is completely compatible with Peertube.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          I watch couple of youtubers and I’ve never heard from them anything except ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’ (anecdotal experience).

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            yeah they still need to expand their audience to get more patrons.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        Other folks have grabbed important technical issues, but something I think is also missed is the weight of GOOG behind golang. The rust evangelion strike force just isn’t as well-funded.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          I see this a lot and I disagree with it pretty much completely. Google doesn’t care whether people outside Google use Go at all really. They really aren’t pushing anyone to use it or pressuring anyone to use it. It’s not heavily advertised to new programmers in the same way something like Java and C# are by the companies that back them. Google supports Go heavily, but despite that I’m pretty sure I see way more evangelism and advertisement for Rust despite it having no big corporate sponsors to speak of.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Things that I need to get done:

                                                                          • Clean apartment, continue unpacking (the last 5% takes forever)
                                                                          • Continue nesting activities in apartment (find more rugs…find more interesting lighting…trying to go cybercomfy ala Cradle
                                                                          • Catching a movie
                                                                          1. 12

                                                                            I’m going to start reading William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” novel. If I can find the time, I also want to begin reading Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” manga series, published back in 1988.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              If you make it through Neuromancer, you might want to check out his anthology Burning Chrome. Probably my favorite works of his.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                That’s certainly the plan, going through all of Gibson’s work. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  Oh no, don’t read all his work. The gems are:

                                                                                  • Burning Chrome (short story collection, 1982)
                                                                                  • Sprawl trilogy
                                                                                    • Neuromancer (1984)
                                                                                    • Count Zero (1986)
                                                                                    • Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)
                                                                                  • The Difference Engine (1990), an alternative history novel Gibson wrote with Bruce Sterling

                                                                                  Personally, when I do a re-read, I stop there. If you’re still really keen, go on to:

                                                                                  • Bridge trilogy
                                                                                    • Virtual Light (1993)
                                                                                    • Idoru (1996)
                                                                                    • All Tomorrow’s Parties (1999)

                                                                                  Just beware that they totally lack the lyrical writing that people find so gripping in the Sprawl trilogy. All of his works after 2000 take place in the very-near-future or the present and have straightforward stories and themes. I don’t find them compelling whatsoever and they generally get mixed reviews (in contrast with the universal acclaim of his earlier work).

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    That makes depressing sense - cyberpunk dystopia is no longer fiction, nor is it in the future. Though I haven’t read his work so that’s easy for me to say.

                                                                                    Thank you for the recommendations, it’s good to know where to start!

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Thank you. I’m gonna do what you suggest, and will dive into his other stuff in case I feel curious.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        I agree with your summary but I’d like to add that I really enjoyed one of his modern books as well: ‘Pattern Recognition’

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          Heh. Horses for courses I suppose! It’s been a while since I read them now but I remember liking the bridge trilogy (though not as much as the sprawl ones) but I hated Difference Engine and found it a dreary slog that I struggled to get through.

                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                      great choices, Akira is epic. I want to finish reading Snowcrash at some point!

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        I am amazed you could put Snowcrash down.

                                                                                      2. 1

                                                                                        SUCH a good set of books!

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                                                                                          Thank you. I’m really excited by Gibson’s. Considering the fact it was the first time the term “cyberspace” was used.

                                                                                        2. 1

                                                                                          Neuromancer is amazing. Enjoy :-)

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                                                                                            Great! I’m even more excited about it.

                                                                                          2. 1

                                                                                            I am so jealous you have not read Gibson yet.

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                                                                                              I know that feeling to experience great things for the first time. It’s certainly a grateful experience.

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                                                                                            This pleases me, since it’s exactly what the Web was made for:

                                                                                            • Scratching an itch, without having to ask for anyone’s permission
                                                                                            • A “user agent” being given a task to perform, and going off to perform it on behalf of the user
                                                                                            • Solving problems using information aggregation/retrieval services (torrent search engines)
                                                                                            • A “mash up” of different services (torrent searches and subtitle archives)
                                                                                            • Once the data is obtained, letting the user choose how to process it (save or stream, choice of players, etc.)
                                                                                            • Sensible defaults, with the ability to override, or even hack on the code to better suit the user’s goals

                                                                                            Compare this to the prevailing view of the Web today:

                                                                                            • No “user agents” other than browsers and search crawlers
                                                                                            • No browsers other than Chrome, usually Firefox and IE/Edge, perhaps Safari
                                                                                            • No search crawlers other than Google’s
                                                                                            • Information cannot be accessed without permission (e.g. API keys)
                                                                                            • Information is hoarded in silos, allowing “mashups” might give ‘competitors’ an advantage
                                                                                            • Users must retrieve information manually, since that way they’ll see the accompanying advertisments
                                                                                            • Pages don’t serve data, they provide “apps”
                                                                                            • Pages are blank unless their Javascript is run (sometimes they show an animated GIF ‘spinner’, misleading users into thinking that something is happening)
                                                                                            • External/user-provided processing is discouraged, since it reduces “engagement” with the app
                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                              Unfortunately we are living in the real world, where things have to be commercially viable.

                                                                                              1. 12

                                                                                                I think “have to” is rather strong. Lots of good stuff has come from personal projects, volunteer efforts, charitable organisations, industry bodies, governmental departments, etc. Is Lobste.rs “commercially viable”, or is it “not too costly”?

                                                                                                Plus commercial viability doesn’t have to be at odds with the original ideas for the Web.

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  Not all things.

                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                    Some things, sure.

                                                                                                    If you push a great many services out to the edge, like streaming and filesharing and searching, all of the sudden the bar for commercial viability drops a lot farther than you’d expect.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  I believe that’s what happens when you select “story” instead of “comments”, no?

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    No. ‘story’ search includes the body of the story. I want to match against the title only. The word bash is included in many story bodies, but usually bash appears in the title only when the story is about /usr/bin/bash.

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      Huh, TIL. Lobsters will actually cache the whole story text.

                                                                                                  1. 11

                                                                                                    Since there are a lot of younger people on here, we should mention that this is a parody of the 1980s-90s “Purity Test” phenomenon: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purity_test (cw adult humor)

                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                      Hi, I’m a high school student.

                                                                                                      This is definitely still a thing right now. (I get made fun of for getting a high score. 🤷‍♀️)

                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                        Ooof.

                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                          Thank you for reminding me THAT I AM SO FREAKING OLD.

                                                                                                        1. -7

                                                                                                          this is just stupid.

                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                            Please don’t post in ways that make me regret inviting you. :(

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                                                                                                            “The next career step”

                                                                                                            Why does there always have to be a next step?

                                                                                                            Why can’t we become extremely knowledgeable and continue to just grow our knowledge?

                                                                                                            My goal in life is to not move up the career ladder but to grow my foundations such that they are so strong my ability to do everything as perfect as possible increases.

                                                                                                            And then spend the rest of my life reading and going fishing.

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              So you can retire much earlier😀

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                I don’t really care what it is called as long as I get compensated more.

                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                They should’ve done something more than a petition.

                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                  The article makes several good points, but it appears as though the author has a particular bone to pick with protocol buffers (mostly the map type, it seems) and comes off as more rant-y than constructive.

                                                                                                                  While only anecdotal, I’ve been working with protobufs for communicating with an embedded device with very restricted memory space, and after having evaluated the usual players (Avro, Capnproto, Thrift), protobufs was the only serialization protocol that was feasible to use. I would have preferred to use capnproto, but the lack of C-based support was a deal breaker.

                                                                                                                  In our particular use-case, protobufs made all the right trade-offs, even though I do sometimes curse at some imposed constraints.

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    Did you consider ASN1/DER?

                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                      Briefly, but I have 1) had bad experiences with some AS1 encoders/decoders in the past (some of them are terrible, and make seemingly unnecessary allocations), and 2) we are already pushing the boundaries of what the embedded chipset is capable of in terms of throughput, and serialization/deserialization speed and resulting payload size is legitimately a concern given how much data we are pushing per unit of time.

                                                                                                                      Also, the documentation for ASN.1 is… lacking, at times. If you’ve ever tried to figure out how to implement tags to support some kind of forwards/backwards compatible type definitions, you know what I mean.

                                                                                                                  1. 12

                                                                                                                    Keep in mind Angersock’s Law of Rapid Development:

                                                                                                                    It is okay to ship shit as long as shit ships.

                                                                                                                    This is mainly if you’re doing web dev, but the thing I’ve seen is that users put a higher premium on rough but available tools than on correct but distant ones. Get your first rough cut in front of people and have them use it, and keep piling on mud until they’re happy.

                                                                                                                    As long as the happy path mostly works your software is shippable. Guards, better UX, and clean code can all come in time.

                                                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                                                      Depends on industry…. In a deeply embedded system where product recall means return thousands of vehicles to base…..

                                                                                                                      No.

                                                                                                                      Just plain no.

                                                                                                                      However, if you mean “ship a reduce set of features, as long as the features ship (and have value to the customer)”.

                                                                                                                      Yes, by all means.

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        Exactly.

                                                                                                                        If the industry is not webshit, don’t follow that rule at all! Similarly, if you are making libraries or other artifacts that will outlast you, don’t develop that way.

                                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                                      I’ll confess I laughed audibly when I reached the suggestion of using yet-another-bloated-web-framework over RoR.

                                                                                                                      1. 20

                                                                                                                        Phoenix is a lot of things, but bloated isn’t one of them.

                                                                                                                        I’d actually argue it’s missing a great deal of stuff that would actually be helpful in the real world.

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        I feel like I need an explainsmbc-comics.com for this one. I read smbc almost daily, but this strip struck me as flat.

                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                          Same. And the 20 votes this has I believe adds further evidence to my “lobsters find things interesting and will upvote them even if it isn’t on-topic for the site, so feedback is helpful” position.

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            It’s not entirely of-topic, is it? I mean, if humour has no place here then you’d be correct but I figured the satire tag was appropriate. Am I wrong?

                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                              I suppose we’d need to know what exactly it’s a satire of.

                                                                                                                              IMO it’s funny in its own right, but neither satire nor on-topic.

                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                            Huh. The punch line hinged on the subtle distinction b/w else (common in programming languages) & otherwise (common in spoken parlance).

                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                              I also found it funny that it was implied that Jeff Atwood (unless there’s an ongoing Atwood character) was one of the remaining uncaught programmers.

                                                                                                                              There’s a lot of subtle reference in it.

                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                            Really neat, but why kafka instead of good ol’ statsd?

                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                              Out near Palm Springs to see a wedding. This place is full of mountains and desert and Joshua trees. Wtf