What do you think of software developers forming labor unions

Do you think there is a need for labor unions in the software development profession?


I’m not sure this forum is a particularly fruitful avenue for the discussion, but I would like to see unionism normalised in software industries for what it’s worth.

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Yes 100%.

Ditto on what @JacksonBates says though, your thread may cause some angry opinions to surface and the discussion may not be fruitful.

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Heh, my issue isn’t with any disagreement that may surface, providing people are respectful… It’s more that a Web forum for beginners probably won’t shift industry thinking much.

Far better to have the discussion on the down low with your actual colleagues and get organised :wink:

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Why ? Don’t you think that unionism would lead to less employers hiring unlicensed software engineers since unions have a history of pushing for more stringent licensing requirements in a field?

The unions would be made up of software engineers, so not sure how this is an issue; all software engineers could just suddenly decide to gatekeep and stop new entrants without certification but it’s not very likely. Also certification is not a purpose of a union so again not an issue.

I don’t see how unions being made up of software engineers has anything to do with them not likely stopping unlicensed software engineers from entering into the profession, since there are unions made up entirely of members of their profession that use stringent licensing requirements to prevent or make it expensive for nonlicensed people of the same profession to enter their field


It’d be even harder to get a job than it is already for those of us without any experience. Nice.

This is whataboutism. You’re disregarding the set of circumstances within specific sectors that led to regulatory gatekeeping, and, critically, the time it took to set those regulatory pathways up (generally decades, if not hundreds of years for some sectors).

So, for example, building sector. The certifications exist in the main to provide a baseline level at which it can be expected entrants don’t kill people. It’s pretty shocking that unlicenced practitioners aren’t allowed to practice!

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Can you named a labor union that exist now that doesn’t require its entrants to have a government sanctioned license ?

Most unions? If you are in a professional sector that requires a licence, then you have to have that licence to practice, it would be a legal requirement (eg doctors, accountants, teachers, etc)

If it’s a government sanctioned licence it’s regulatory not union. The union may support that regulation, and may have pushed for that regulation, but it is not the union that mandates it in law, that isn’t the union’s job.

But again, I think this is whataboutism because the aim is to protect workers rights; regulation also can do this but it is at a higher level

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Of course I understand regulatory policies in the building industry but I really don’t imagine how you can people developing a website.

You wouldn’t, that’s why it’s whataboutism. There is a valid argument to be made over some baseline understanding of ethical responsibilities being a requirement but that’s about it.

I’m about as pro-union as it gets, but do software engineers need a union? Possibly in some fields in some countries, but from where I’m standing I haven’t seen the majority of software engineers being exploited unfairly to the conditions of needing to organize. We’re not exactly wal-mart workers here.

Perhaps we need a professional guild instead, but we’ve already got the IEEE and the ACM. And as much respect as I have for those two organizations, I’m not sure I want either of their stodgy boards steering my industry.


Salaries for those already working in the industry would go even higher. That’s why it’s in the interests of some to form unions.

I’m guessing that this was brought up after @noblegas87 read or watched a something like this about the video game industry’s treatment of it’s developers, or perhaps something similar about startup culture. There is some truly scummy treatment of developers in these fields especially, but there are less dramatic instances that we’ve seen.

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This is not the reason at all and that isn’t how it works. Game dev is the key subsector where it is a massive issue. Working conditions & worker protections are not the same as wages.

Game developers can still vote with their feet, and I’ve known more than one that has. It’s companies’ blatant violation of employment laws by using interns as unpaid employees that I’m more concerned about.

Anyway, I’m more a fan of works councils like they have in Germany, but I’m really not inclined to watch this thread devolve into a discussion on unions in general.

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Generally speaking, asking a question that begins “don’t you think that…” has the effect of limiting discussion and closing avenues for developing ideas together.

I don’t accept either of the presumptions your question makes though: a) unionism doesn’t necessarily lead to increased licensing requirements; b) increased licensing is not necessarily bad.

I support the idea of unions because I want to see more power in the hands of the workers that produce things with their own skill and labour.

I don’t think unions are the only, or best, method for that.

I would rather see worker co-ops.

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IF an individual and company agreed to work unpaid in exchange for the unpaid employee gaining experience, then why shouldn’t they?