[consulting] Drupal workers' interests [was Drupal Certification]

Brian Vuyk brian at brianvuyk.com
Mon Aug 10 19:37:39 UTC 2009


Unfortunately, I have to disagree, because you've presented a straw man.

You are correct that the kind of people who contribute to Open Source 
aren't the type of people who would take advantage of union protection 
to slack off. This is because contributing to Open Source shows 
character & personality traits that would oppose this.

However, the people who contribute back to Drupal  or Open Source in 
general is a subset of those who use it / develop with it. I read a 
statistic somewhere that only 30% - 40% of Drupal developers actually 
contribute back to Drupal in any way. I can't source it at the moment, 
but feel free to take a random number. I am sure we can all agree that 
the number of those who contribute back is somewhat lower than those 
that develop in Drupal.

Can you honestly say that the percentage of Drupal developers who would 
be covered by the theoretical union, but *don't* feel compelled to 
contribute back to the project can also be trusted not to abuse the system?

That's where this Facebook-surfing, game playing developer lies - he 
wouldn't make it in a non-union shop, and he certainly wouldn't ever 
contribute to Drupal, but he would be protected just the same.

Also, the system isn't self correcting. I've know of several businesses 
run into the ground because of workers they couldn't get rid of. One 
example is a local electrical shop, owned by a journeyman electrician 
and two apprentices. The apprentices were approached by the union, and 
made the decision to unionise.

It worked fine for a while. Because the owner had been paying wages 
competitive with the union shops, not much changed. However, about a 
year after this, an apprentice quit, and the union filled his job with 
the most senior electrician's apprentice in the local chapter that 
needed a job.

This guy was a total waste of space. It would take him several days to 
do what was done in hours by the other workers.

The guy dragged the business down. Eventually, the owner declared 
bankruptcy. It cost him a fair amount of money and a credit rating. The 
business was dissolved, and a new one was opened as a non-union shop.

A large business can survive a fair number of useless people on staff. A 
small one often can't survive one. As a small business owner who someday 
hopes to hire some developers to work for me, the thought that I could 
potentially get stuck with a dud I can't drop scares me.


Sami Khan wrote:
> Brian,
> I think the IT community, especially Open Source/GPL, is fundamentally
> different from Teamsters. Here people contribute quite a bit of
> themselves without so much as a dollar, so the chances that there are
> lazy workers that want to play games and get paid is quite unlikely. 
> The system is self-correcting to the extent that most organizations that
> acted that way in the past are gone (wielding power in a corrupt way) --
> destroyed by deregulation or the government. There is a legacy of the
> idea that Unions are a certain way, however, permeates the culture. But
> I would say that many corporations like the phone or cable companies are
> the same way today. Corrupt and lazy, and yet they continue to exist
> just fine.
> Regards,
> Sami 
> On Mon, 2009-08-10 at 14:46 -0400, Brian Vuyk wrote:
>> Victor,
>> I think there is a big difference in how you view unions in Argentina, 
>> and how we view it here.
>> Here in North America, many unions have gone past the 'protect the 
>> worker' stage, to wielding a lot of power. Many unions here have high 
>> levels of corruption in the higher levels,  and impede production 
>> efficiency by preventing lazy, incompetent or otherwise unfit workers 
>> from being fired by union shops / employers.
>> Let's say that you had a guy in your Drupal shop who spent most of the 
>> day playing computer games. When he wasn't playing computer games, he 
>> may check his email, surf Facebook, and perhaps spend an hour per day 
>> actually working. Now imagine that you had to pay him 30% above the 
>> current market rate you pay your employees, and you can't fire him for 
>> his laziness because the union won't allow you to.
>> How about if you have a hard worker in your shop, who is turning out 
>> tons of excellent, bug-free code, and he is told by a union boss to slow 
>> down or face consequences because he is depriving fellow union members 
>> of work?
>> Unfortunately, these are not perticularly uncommon cases here in North 
>> America. That isn't to claim that union employees are all lazy and 
>> overpaid. In fact, most are probably very hard working. However, there 
>> are many, many cases where lazy or unfit workers are able to abuse the 
>> protections offered by the unions, and there is nothing you can do about it.
>> Also, to any who claim that we can prevent this from happening... well, 
>> it's just human nature coming to light.
>> Brian
>> Victor Kane wrote:
>>> Union would make sense for all who have nothing to sell but their labor.
>>> If you are a one-person shop you are selling your labor. You need a 
>>> union to defend yourself against forces managed by corporations.
>>> You strike against corporations, and that means not just in terms of 
>>> Drupal questions, but also as part of a larger struggle. But even in 
>>> Drupal questions, it means defending the community of Drupal workers 
>>> so that corporations do not dictate working conditions.
>>> Your clients are working for clients are working for clients
>>> The corporations love it because it is a form of flexibilization.
>>> On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 3:05 PM, Sam Cohen <sam at samcohen.com 
>>> <mailto:sam at samcohen.com>> wrote:
>>>     Union v Non-union doesn't even make sense to me in the context of
>>>     Drupal.
>>>     First of all, who is management and who is the worker?  I run a
>>>     one-person web shop -- where do I fall?
>>>     Do I get to join and if I do, do I go  out on strike against myself? 
>>>     Sam
>>>     On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 1:56 PM, Ayen Designs
>>>     <info at ayendesigns.com <mailto:info at ayendesigns.com>> wrote:
>>>         Union labor means superior product? Not. I can buy a
>>>         handcrafted motorcycle that's a better product than anything
>>>         for sale in the store. I can buy a handcrafted bedroom set
>>>         that's better than anything for sale in the furniture store.
>>>         Here, I've lived in the northeast, where all construction and
>>>         utility work is union, and the southeast, where it's not, and
>>>         if there is any quality difference on my home, it's better in
>>>         the southeast, at a fraction of the price. Home schooled and
>>>         privately schooled (non-government) children do consistently
>>>         better (here in the U.S.) in testing than those educated by
>>>         union labor (although the government controlling the
>>>         curriculum plays a part there), on and on. Unions might mean
>>>         higher quality on an assembly line, but development is not an
>>>         assembly line, the last time I looked. I'd like a good example
>>>         of where creativity and intuition plays as much a role in the
>>>         product as it does in development, rather than rote, and the
>>>         end-product is demonstratively of higher quality because of a
>>>         union.
>>>         Victor Kane wrote:
>>>>         A union contract?
>>>>         All work done with union labor speaks of a superior quality.
>>>         -- 
>>>         Ayen Designs
>>>         388 Bullsboro Drive #105 · Newnan, Georgia 30263
>>>         404-271-9734
>>>         ayendesigns.com <http://ayendesigns.com>
>>>         Ayen Designs is a tradename of the computer services division of
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