The Digital Working Class

from the digital-factory-floor dept

Whenever there’s talk about how new technologies are costing jobs, people tend to ignore how those technologies often create new and different jobs as well. Business Week is examining the rise of the digital working class. These are the people who are helping to put all of that information online. Obviously, a good portion of those jobs are offshore, but it appears plenty are local as well. It’s a reminder that not all online jobs are really “tech” jobs. While we still don’t think unions make sense for tech workers, it does seem like these types of “rote” work jobs may be much more inclined to look to unionize. In fact, towards the end of the article, one of the workers talks about how she had to quit her job because of the “factory-type atmosphere” with a boss who would yell at her to type faster. It’s not hard to see large groups of these types of workers eventually deciding to organize.

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Comments on “The Digital Working Class”

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Sarojin says:

Re: Solidarnosc

Seems like it more that “tech” workers don’t see themselved as exploited labor, but rather more closely aligned with management. Tech careers can also be very comfortable financially, leaving no motivation to pusure organizing.

One of the bigger and older companies is also very anti-union (my opinion, contrary to the official company line) and prohibits any sort of solicitation on company property (as in one is not allowed to bring in candy from a child’s school event or brochures for a spouses small business) only because they would then have to let, gasp, Unions distribute information or post flyers on the cork board in the lunch room.

Not mentioning the name as they are also lawsuit loopy (though serial numbers on Jewish arms is a clue).

So any attempt to unionize would immediately result in hostile action leading to firing. If one doesn’t feel terribly victimized, lives in a nice house, drives a nice car, and has some spending money left over, what’s he need a union for?

Probably figure that one out too late to matter…

Times are changing though. People are getting fed up with the stagnant wages and outsourcing of jobs overseas. It will be interesting to see if that will only actually create enough fear to prevent speaking up and organizing.

Ninja says:

Re: Tech workers don't *need* unions

Unions give their members additional power over management by restricting hiring and firing practices (closed shops.) By not allowing so many workers to be hired, each individual workers becomes that much more powerful. While others are out of jobs, the united workers have more negotiating room than they would otherwise.

This is unnecessary for tech workers. They have a bargaining position from skills, college educations, and experience that unskilled labor doesn’t have. It is *much* harder to replace a head programmer or network administration, for example, than a guy at Ford who puts the passenger-side door on an SUV.

Tech workers don’t need to unionize – it would cost them some jobs for bargaining power they already have.

Brian A. (user link) says:

Somebody has to do it...

And it’s not me. Data entry and content transcription is the 21st century equivalent of the typing pool. You can make money with a just a few skills but no one expects to make a real career out of it. At some point you’re going to get bored and either get more education or training and move on. If you don’t then shame on you. Don’t come bellyaching to me because you hate your dull, thankless job. No ammount of unionization is going to fix that.

EH says:


“…working class has the courage to organize, where techie nerds were too chicken to do it?”

Since when is it courageous to get some goon to fight your battles for you? When did it become courageous to have such a low estimation of one’s self-worth that it seems like a good idea to remove the possibility of differentiating oneself in any way? Courageous to intentionally try to destroy companies and economies? I think not.

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