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

Sami Khan sami at etopian.net
Mon Aug 10 19:57:05 UTC 2009

On Mon, 2009-08-10 at 15:37 -0400, Brian Vuyk wrote:
> Sami,
> Unfortunately, I have to disagree, because you've presented a straw man.

Brain, you have read in assumptions that I never explicitly made. Namely
that a union has to represent all workers regardless of their position
or what they have done. True unions can be as inclusive as they want to
be, it is up to the union to decide the terms of membership. So I don't
have to make a case for all workers that work with Drupal. Just those
who actually contribute something or have contributed something to
Drupal that is of merit.

> 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.

Yes, and that is the only class of people I would want such a union to represent.

> 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.

I agree.

> 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?

No, but I feel a union could compel people to contribute as a terms of

> 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 

Hence you get rid of them, and explicitly have this in the terms of the
collective agreement.

> 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.

When a business is run into the ground, the system has corrected itself
(that is what I meant when I said that those who abuse their power are
destroyed). The correction means unemployment for everyone involved.
That's why it's a collective deal, either the entire company succeeds or
no one does.

> 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.

You can have clauses to dismiss such people. But, yes the system is not
efficient, that's the point... But in this case it's an individual who
can sink the ship, and that's the price you may decide to pay to use
power collectively.

> 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.

I believe your story, but using the story is in itself a straw man,
because there may be many cases where this is not the case and on the
average union do get their workers better wages, benefits, and so on...
at the cost of the efficiency of the business. But again, you get to
decide the rules at the beginning and you can incorporate rules from any
lesson you wish. 

Ultimately, the question is not about what could go wrong... But what
are the problems and how can they be resolved. Is the business going out
of business a problem, yes. But are there other problems as well that
are as serious that a union might address, I think so.

> 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.

It should scare you, and I can't blame you. But the thought for $19.00
per hour with someone continuously watching my monitor scares me...

> Brian
> 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
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>         _______________________________________________
> >>>         consulting mailing list
> >>>         consulting at drupal.org <mailto:consulting at drupal.org>
> >>>         http://lists.drupal.org/mailman/listinfo/consulting
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>     _______________________________________________
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> >>>     consulting at drupal.org <mailto:consulting at drupal.org>
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> >>>
> >>>
> >>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>
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