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March 9, 2006

Union to take another shot at Microsoft employees

Posted by David Hunter at 11:08 AM ET.

Brier Dudley at the Seattle Times:

Hoping to capitalize on Microsoft employees’ angst over compensation issues, a Seattle labor group is making another attempt at unionizing the software company.

Marcus Courtney, president of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, or WashTech, acknowledged it may take a long time, given unions’ lack of traction in the software industry as a whole.

The new focus on Microsoft follows WashTech’s success organizing a group of Cingular Wireless employees in November. That was its first victory in eight years of trying to unionize employees at Microsoft and other Seattle-area tech companies.

This time around, Courtney believes he has new ammunition:

Someone inside Microsoft anonymously mailed him several pages of confidential pay information, including details about pay scales, merit raises and stock awards.

Hit the link for the juicy details (also see the WashTech site), but the punchline is that since the Microsoft stock options tanked, Microsoft’s employee compensation doesn’t seem overly lucrative. Microsoft responds that they do offer competitive compensation,

But Courtney hopes to tap into employee frustration revealed on blogs such as Mini-Microsoft, where employees vent about topics such as the company’s performance-review system.

Mini-Microsoft is here, although I suspect Mr. Courtney will find only cold comfort there despite the grievances that are often expressed.

“But there increasingly is clear frustration around the company right now with management, and the way employees address that is with a union. At some point there will be a union at Microsoft, obviously.”

Everyone is entitled to his personal fantasy, but given the caliber of Microsoft employees, I would suggest that unhappiness is demonstrated by heading for the exits rather than by pining for the union label. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to outsource the less technical jobs.

Update: Mini-Microsoft responds and links Todd Bishop at the Seattle P-I, and Todd’s blog.

Filed under Employee Retention, General Business, Unions

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