The Specter of IT Unions

There are two kinds of workers in America: those who work for unions and those who don’t.

Right now, most high-tech workers are not union members. Instead, they work "at will," meaning, among other things, that legally they can be fired at any time, notes the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a West Coast-based advocacy group for high-tech workers. These millions of IT workers put in long hours, are given limited benefits, and have fading career mobility as many jobs are outsourced.

CIOs should be concerned about the state of mind of their workers, because the drumbeat of IT unionization, which began in the frenzied days of the dotcom era, is becoming more constant. IT workers see their future job opportunities threatened by the cold, hard realities of globalization and corporate efficiency.

We reported in our Sept. 15 issue that the majority of IT workers are unhappy. In an exclusive staffing survey, 52 percent of respondents believed that their CIOs do not foster a team atmosphere. Ninety-three percent said their CIOs don’t spend enough time developing leadership within the department. And 61 percent claimed their CIOs do not pay enough attention to IT staff morale and stress levels.

If you need further evidence that the IT rank and file are restless, just visit the blogs or check out the responses to what we have written about this topic at www.cio.com. The comments are polemical. Few take the middle ground.

America is a nation propped up on an economic foundation built on the zeros and ones of software code. If IT workers were to unionize, and if IT workers were to go on strike, our nation’s economy would be brought to its knees.

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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