advertising information

CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
COMPUTING

From...
Industry Standard

NYC programmers may form labor union

March 22, 1999
Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EST (0030 GMT)

by Bernhard Warner

(IDG) -- Programmers have rights, too, don't they? In New York City, they're not going to take it anymore. In fact, there's talk of forming a union to do something about workplace issues.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
  IDG.net home page
  Industry Standard home page
  Industry Standard email newsletters
  Industry Standard daily Media Grok
  Industry Standard financial news
 Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  IDG.net's personal news page
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletter for computer industry cognoscenti
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
 News Radio
  Fusion audio primers
  Computerworld Minute
   

A labor union for Internet workers may seem counterintuitive because industry jobs are plentiful and wages are well above the norm. Nonetheless, some major union officials, including the 630,000-member Communications Workers of America in Washington, D.C., are eyeing computer engineers, programmers and Web designers as potential recruits to their ranks.

In Gotham, an Internet executive and a vocal labor advocate are pushing for a Net-only kind of union. A union would likely work to secure health-care coverage and retirement benefits for freelancers, as well as lobby for collective-bargaining rights to mediate contract disputes. It could also create a Web-based pipeline to alert workers about job openings.

A union's main purpose would be to protect freelancers when the job market turns sour, explains Immanuel Ness, a vocal labor advocate and political science professor at Brooklyn College, who is pushing the notion with Dick Jones, VP of business development for a New York-based Web design shop, Progressive Internet Alternatives.

Many New Yorkers are doubtful that such a movement would be appealing to the city's full-time Web workers. The freelance community, which by some estimates represents 20 percent of New York's 189,000 new-media employees, may be a different story.

In January, 250 people attended a weekend bull session set up by Ness and Jones. Dubbed "The Labor Online Conference," the gathering was focused in part on gauging interest for, and promoting the formation of, a labor union for the city's tech workers.

"There is not at this point a major groundswell of support in Silicon Alley for organizing a union. I say that somewhat regretfully," observes Jones, who has become more or less synonymous with the new-media union "movement" in New York since his essay outlining its benefits was published in January on the @NY site. Jones and Ness admit their platform is incomplete.

Critics of the union idea maintain it would add layers of costs to an already expensive place to do business. And worse, some fear it could mean the difference between a New York firm winning and losing business.

"I happen to think that what [Jones] is proposing is dangerous," says Eric Goldberg, president and founder of New York-based Crossover Technologies. "We've seen unions strangle this city before. Why would you want to do that again?"

Goldberg, a member of the New York New Media Association, acknowledges that many of the Alley's rookie Web workers are toiling for long hours at relatively low wages. And, unlike many West Coast firms, most New York companies don't offer their junior employees equity stakes in the business, creating wider wage disparities between management and the average line worker.

"There is a real problem there," Goldberg admits. "But I think an old-line union would draw real money away from real problems."


RELATED STORIES:
Toward a more diverse high-tech workforce
March 11, 1999
IT pros promoted despite reduced hours
March 3, 1999
All IT workers want is time off
February 24, 1999
Shortage of IT skills predicted to remain
February 22, 1999
Y2K work may overshadow customer service, HR issues
February 9, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Where have all the coders gone?
(Computerworld)
Year 2000 coders face 'bloodbath'
(Computerworld)
Teens eyed as IT labor option
(Computerworld)
Age bias an IT reality
(Computerworld)
Controlling your Web site contractor
(Computerworld)

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


RELATED SITES:
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Home Page

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.