Labor relations

So many of the posts here are about peoples’ jobs causing them to lose their minds through practices that obviously qualify as deep labor conflicts. Treating people decently has been relegated to occasionally making so-called “accommodations” to defend against disability claims. Although OSMI co-opts the imagery and stylization of solidarity movements (i.e., a gear, two clenched hands corrupted from the traditional raised fist), there is little meaningful discussion about permanently correcting harmful work environments. The scant few times anyone broaches the subject of organized labor, unions are dismissed as “a joke”. Why is that?

Instead, the focus centers on palliative responses: recognize and identify madness, talk it out with your primary stressor, then quit when it turns out nothing ever changes, thus handing off the abuse to the next sucker. This damaging rhetoric deftly shifts the blame from the perpetrator to the victim. Why didn’t you take care of yourself? Why didn’t you speak up earlier? If going by the handbook, why didn’t you file an ADA claim? And so forth.

Perhaps this thread can be a place to discuss collective bargaining: demands, strategies for organizing, personal experiences, etc.

To kick it off, some things I believe may be beneficial (to their credit, the guideline pdfs touch on this) :

  • Abolish endemic Taylorisms (cf. velocity)
  • Abolish open plan offices
  • Hard overtime limits
  • Just cause dismissal
  • Clear delineation of roles; changes subject to contract renegotiation


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I think it would be great to discuss this. There are absolutely many common practices within technology workplaces that affect our mental wellness negatively, and org leaders have the greatest ability to make changes to address this. Two of the three handbooks we have released so far are aimed at employers for this reason.

Only thing I’d ask that you avoid language like “losing their minds” and “madness,” which I think is inaccurate and can be harmful to the perception of mental health.

I’d also like to say OSMI doesn’t dictate discussions here. Some of the folks involved with OSMI participate in discussions, but there is no “OSMI Code” that suggests there is a Single Right Way of seeking mental wellness. I personally think anyone who tells you there’s one path to justice/freedom/happiness is wrong, and probably trying to sell you something.

I personally do not think the idea of unions is “a joke.”

Thanks for bringing this topic up.

I see this discussion has gone a little quiet but I have to say that unfortunately attitudes about workplace unions and workplace in democracy in general in the US tech space are really hard to crack even more so than other spaces.

It’s because of the generally deeply individualistic nature of how people view coding, the fact we can usually git blame some particular bug- there’s a lot to be done about this and it’s actually wider than just health issues. Like with the founders comment above you will likely find a lot of agreement here but it is still true it’s slightly outside of the scope of purely working on the single issue of mental health acceptance and workplace practices around those specifically

FWIW, I’ve wanted to bump this for some time, but I haven’t been able to put the words together in a way that I’m comfortable with.

So consider this a bump. :slight_smile: