As is no secret to those that know me well, I generally hold no truck with unionization. My reasons are many, and as far as I'm concerned at this stage they verge on being tautological.
However, one particular situation has thrown into sharp relief the reason for unions' existence, and caused me to re-evaluate my absolutist stance on the subject: "EA Games":http://www.livejournal.com/users/ea_spouse/.
As discussed "here":http://www.shacknews.com/ja.zz?id=8965013 and (more extensively) "here":http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/11/0031259&tid=98, EA's got some nasty shit going on in their workforce. 100-hour workweeks, _uncompensated_, and a general "fuck you, good luck finding other work" policy with respect to objectors. As far as I've been able to glean, this is generally the outlook for most big game companies -- and _specifically_ game companies, as opposed to the software engineering profession as a whole (although I've heard that programming jobs do get crunches, just not quite to this extent).
I've always had a hard time putting the state of unions today together with the impetus for their creation. I think, this being an industry closer to my heart, that I can see it more clearly now. I wonder, though, if there's a way to stop the union from becoming an advocate of $16/hr toilet cleaners and institutionalized incompetence after the initial injustices have passed? How do you draw the line? As advocates for workers, by definition the union is going to make certain to push for better treatment, but past a certain point their demands cease to be legitimate ones and simply become a mass form of mugging and extortion.
Fuzzy questions, as always...Tweet