Should programmers be unionized?

Software programmers are generally a well compensated bunch. But could they still benefit from organizing and bargaining collectively?


Should programmers hit the picket line?

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

As you puckheads out there (like me) know, the NHL season is finally about to get underway this weekend. For you non-puckheads, the hockey season would’ve normally started back in October but, for the third time in the least 18 years, the team owners locked out the players in a fight over money. Luckily, unlike the last time they did so, in 2004-2005, we’re not going to lose a whole season because of a labor dispute.

Why am I writing about this here on ITworld? Because, this labor dispute, which has directly affected my entertainment options, made me think about the issue of unions and programmers.

Namely, should programmers be unionized?

I’m not talking about some sort of professional association to license or accredit programmers or lobby on their behalf, like the AMA. No, I’m talking about a real labor union whose purpose is to enable programmers to collectively bargain for salaries, benefits and such. Like the Teamsters - but nerdlier.

It’s an issue that comes up now and again and a question that regularly pops up on discussion boards. In fact, there have been attempts in the past to organize programmers and unions for programmers do exist today. However, for the most part here in the U.S., these efforts haven’t gone anywhere and the vast majority of programmers are non-union.

But why haven’t programmers joined together to to form a union? More importantly, should they?

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