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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group 107

An anonymous reader writes "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the beginning of Silicon Valley's organized labor movement--startup employees met in Palo Alto 'to share war stories and to start developing what organizers called a 'Startup Employee Equity Bill of Rights'.'" That probably should include the right to work late, for little pay, and to trade less certainty now for greater hoped-for benefits down the road. If you've been a startup employee, or started one of your own, what would you put on the wishlist?
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Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

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  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:16AM (#46551313)

    you are already being scammed. in the 35 yrs I've been in software in the bay area and boston area, I've known 2 people (at most) who made out well from shared in their startups. the first level bosses did ok but not great and the execs and vc's all bought new houses and cars (and boats and ...).

    face it, wall street is a scam and stocks for you and me are a scam.

    work for salary. don't work AT ALL for stock.

    so many times I've seen it (even to myself) where they walk you out just before your first or 2nd vesting. it happens!!

    do not work or even care about stock. you can't write a rent check on stock promises.

    that's all that needs to be said. its a scam for those who are connected and rich. you and I will never be connected or rich. face it, the american dream is not there for folks like us.

    I laugh at those giving away time from their lives and famlies for 'promises of stock money'. you could not be more stupid to do this. you get ONE chance at life and there's no reason to work 80 hrs each week and deprive your family and yourself from valuable life time. you can't get time in your life back.

  • by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:21AM (#46551339) Journal

    "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the beginning of Silicon Valley's organized labor movement" should read "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the end of Silicon Valley." Once "organized labor" successfully infects an industry, it turns in to a dead industry walking.

    Since tech startups are particularly location-independent, expect to see more of them started elsewhere (and outside the United States entirely) and fewer of them to start in Silicon Valley.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:42AM (#46551473)
    Please. If you want to go work at a startup, you accept the risks of working at a startup. I've known plenty of people that tried to swing it at a startup and ran back to their previous jobs a month later because it didn't go as planned.

    Startups are RISKY. That is the risk/reward. If you want to take low pay in return for stock, then pay a lawyer to make sure your options are worth something.

    I've heard the pitches before "We will pay you half your current salary, but the risk is worth the reward!" - please - I am not a partner so there will be no big reward. Get fucked.

    Want something that pays decent and you won't work 80 hours a week? Find a stable job at a firm thats been around for awhile.
  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:46AM (#46551499)

    This is simply a consequence of the fact that tech startup remuneration schemes just don't work anymore, and people have been coasting for the last decade hoping the 90s would come back, and they just aren't. You can't just take programmers who would make over six figures in the market, pay them a pittance and stock, and then never have the stock pay off -- this'll work the first few times, but not for years.

    We also can't ignore the fact that, though we measure "innovation" in the number of startups that are founded, a lot of these startups are just really dumb, unsustainable ideas that would be much better off being developed by larger companies (if at all), and the whole reason its a startup, and not a MS/Apple/Google R&D project, is to give the founders a big payday from VC funding rounds, and to give the venture capitalists a big payday off of some patent the company will file. Yay intellectual property! It's just a big rent collection scheme dressed up as entrepreneurship.

    Tech startups are rarely designed to make money, they aren't really supposed to, they are really just a fiction to get the connected parties as much cash as physically possible before the whole thing burns out. It's been a scam for a decade, but a lot of tech people are deeply emotionally invested in the system, because it means catered meals and beers in the fridge and Ferraris for everyone up and down the Camino Real and satisfies their deeply-held emotional belief that being a computer nerd entitles you to vast wealth and privilege, because you're "reinventing the world" or some such nonsense.

    A very similar thing happened in the film industry between the early twenties, where it was basically a gold rush from the end of World War I to the invention of sound film, and there were hundreds of little fly-by-night producers making movies left and right, and there was tons of "innovation" in the sense that a lot of content was getting made, but everyone under the producer was making nothing. Then everyone unionized.

    A lot of tech will say in Silicon Valley, it's just too close to Stanford and all the good people. But, they'll actually have to be paid for the work they do, in money and not in magic beans.

  • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @11:59AM (#46551583)

    No thanks. I don't want to be passed up because you have been at the company for 1 day longer than I have, but don't know as much or have better skills than I do.

    I will take risk over Union stagnation any day.

  • Bunch of pussies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @12:08PM (#46551651)

    If you're not comfortable with taking on risk, busting your ass, and doing anything it takes for a very small CHANCE at hitting it big -- then don't work for a startup. Period. There are many other software / IT jobs right now -- no need at all to work in startup land. But don't try to fuck it up with this "union" nonsense talk. All you'll accomplish is dragging down those who are truly talented and deserve to be there.

    If you do go that route -- get educated. Pay a lawyer a few hundred bucks to explain the docs you are about to sign which grant options, have a vesting schedule, etc. If you don't, you're a retard and you deserve to be taken advantage of. But this "unionization" talk runs completely counter to the very DNA of a startup. Face it -- some people are willing to work 80+ hrs / week. If you're not -- fine. But don't fuck it up for those who *choose* to do so and try to out-work others to gain an advantage.

  • by dentin ( 2175 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @01:14PM (#46552183) Homepage

    I never said that workers didn't deserve rights. In fact, as someone who has worked part time, full time, and as a contractor, I know very well what rights employees have, and why they have them. Employee rights have nothing to do with why I will never tolerate a union presence.

    Hiring is between me any my employees. I treat them well, and they do good work. If an employee and I have a problem that's not resolvable, we part ways. I don't need and won't have a third party coming in to tell me or my employees what they should be doing, who I can and can't fire, who I can and can't promote, and who can and can't quit.

    Boycott if you want. If I can't have the freedom to work with who I want when I want, I'll either take my business overseas or hire independent contractors. Either way, I'll still provide the same service and people will still buy it, but I'll be paying taxes to a government that doesn't allow organized labor extortion.

  • Look to Detroit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RudyHartmann ( 1032120 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @04:12PM (#46553251)

    As soon as techies start making unacceptable demands on management, the companies will just pull up stakes and move elsewhere. Then wherever the unions started agitating will end up like post-apocalyptic Detroit. []

  • by dentin ( 2175 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @04:25PM (#46553355) Homepage

    I already negotiate these kinds of things with people, without a union involved. To me, it's just the other side of the table, and I very much remember having to negotiate my long hair and keeping intellectual property intact when I was interviewing.

    It's not about getting the maximum possible dollar in the short term. It's about both parties getting what they want out of it, in a way that's sustainable and lasts for the long term. IMHO the biggest problems in business aren't technology, they're people and long term planning.

  • by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @08:00PM (#46554585)

    You object to signing a contact with an entity representing your workers, and dealing with employees according to rules set out in this contract.. I suspect you wouldn't think twice about signing a similar contract with suppliers or customers.

    My only conclusion is that you prefer to deal with employees individually because you can more easily manipulate them by doing so. You enjoy the power of being the owner and being able to play favorites, taking advantage of the inherent weakness in an individual's bargaining power and the lack of any enforceable written criteria governing your rule. You accept the occasional loss of an employee able to find better conditions because you know you will always find a replacement.

    Of all the inputs to your business - labor, materials, facilities - only labor is to be forced to deal from a deliberately weakened perspective.

    You must be a joy to work for.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie