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Executing a Mass Departmental Exodus in the Workplace? 1190

Posted by Cliff
from the take-this-job-and-shove-it dept.
rerunn asks: "The recent story about the consultants from JBOSS walking out couldn't have had better timing. I'll save the drama and cut to the scenario: You and a few close co-workers make up the core grunts of 'the department'. The company relies heavily on your department for many services, some of which, other departments cannot provide. You like your job, it provides great satisfaction. Suddenly, the company realizes its in deep financial shit, and starts making cut backs. This impacts the department. You suddenly find yourself working 50-60 hour weeks, put on call with no compensation, given unreasonable amounts of work and generally treated like dirt. You get the feeling that the company is just going to take advantage of you no matter how and what happens. You get together with the rest of the department for a 'fsck this company' meeting and decide to walk out. Have you ever done this?? (We are so close!) What was the outcome?"
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Executing a Mass Departmental Exodus in the Workplace?

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  • Result (Score:5, Funny)

    by Robert Hayden (58313) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:03AM (#6170496) Homepage
    Six months of unemployment...
    • Re:Result (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170545)
      Unlikely. Collecting unemployment usually requires leaving work through no fault of your own. Walking off just to prove a point or to be pissy won't cut it.
      • Re:Result (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RevDobbs (313888) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:21AM (#6170716) Homepage

        A thought... you could just "slow down". Work slowly, stop doing things, make sure you only put in 40 hrs / week. In New Jersey at least, if you get fired you can collect unemployment after 2 weeks. Granted, I don't know how long you want to live on unemployment for...I think it's about 2/3 of your salary with a cap at $280 a week. Ugh.

        Also, there have been a couple of lawsuits where people have sued for unpaid over time... a class action suite between Walgreens & their pharmacists(sp) comes to mind. Shoveling a ton of work on you because you're "salary", "a professional", or "management" is illegal, and if you work cannot reasonably be done in ~40 hrs/ week you are supposed to be compensated for overtime put in.

        ::shrug:: IANALOAUO

        • Welcome to America! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:33AM (#6170817)
          "Also, there have been a couple of lawsuits where people have sued for unpaid over time... a class action suite between Walgreens & their pharmacists(sp) comes to mind. Shoveling a ton of work on you because you're "salary", "a professional", or "management" is illegal, and if you work cannot reasonably be done in ~40 hrs/ week you are supposed to be compensated for overtime put in. "

          I don't know about Walgreens, but Walmart has a long history [google.com] of pulling crap like that.

        • Re:Result (Score:5, Informative)

          by lophophore (4087) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:10AM (#6171281) Homepage
          Better read the Fair Labor Standards Act before you decide to sue.

          I.T. Professionals are specifically exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

          • by No-op (19111) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:41AM (#6171772)
            Specific sorts of professionals are exempt, and management is exempt. There's a special stipulation with regards to computer professionals, but it mandates that you must either be in management, or making more than $27.63 an hour (from the last time I looked at the regs).

            So, if you're making in excess of $57k/year, and the majority of your work is self directed (or you are in management) then you're somewhat screwed.

            State labor laws are also important here- State law cannot weaken the federal law ( if your employer falls under it) but it can make it stronger with more requirements. Check with your State wages and dues/labor/workforce department. They will also come in and investigate if you so desire, and can mandate that employers pay up to 2 years of back wages if they are found to have you wrongfully exempted.

            have fun. it's never easy.
            • by Matrix272 (581458) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @03:47PM (#6174485)
              Technically (and you WILL NEED to get technical), IT professionals with salaries are exempt. The $27.63 per hour only comes into effect if the person is paid hourly. HOWEVER, there's still hope. The company you work for must have employees engaged in commerce (sale of goods or services) and had gross sales volume of over $500,000 in order for the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 [dol.gov] to apply.

              Second, your primary duty (assuming you're an IT person), must be:

              The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications)

              The design, development, documentation, analysis, creating, testing, or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications.

              The design, documentation, testing, creating, or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems.

              A combination of duties described above.

              For those of you who are wondering, that basically means System Analysts, Software Engineer, or Programmer. It does NOT include telephone technical support or a "senior network administrator / project manager (see this article [moheck.com] on pages 4 and 9... sorry, no direct link to the opinion letter, although if you get a copy of it, let me know).

              To fit the Computer Exemption, secondary duties can NOT take up more than 20% (or 40% for "service establishments") of your time. For the Management Exemption, you must supervise at least 2 employees, have the authority to hire or fire people (or make recommendations that carry weight), and not spend more than 20% or 40% (see above) of your time on secondary duties.


              I was burned by my last employer, and I'm looking to get him back... so I've done lots of homework about this kind of thing. If you're interested in any of the documents I have, or have anything to offer, my e-mail address is netadm2000@hotmail.com.

        • Re:Result (Score:5, Interesting)

          by u-235-sentinel (594077) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:31AM (#6171612) Homepage Journal
          I worked for a small company 6 years ago with 3 other IT members. We eventually split into a couple of groups. The people who worked and those who didn't. After a couple of years myself and one one (the workers) decided to approach management about our concerns. The work piled up and we were stressing to keep up with it.

          To make a long story short, after exhausting what we felt was all means available to us we went looking for employment. In a matter of days we both found another job at the same company. We turned in our resignation letters within 20 minutes of each other.

          To our surprise our manager didn't understand why we would leave. Unreal.

          From what I hear, the manager didn't get his bonus/raise as a result of our leaving. Loosing half your department hurt a great deal and I was sorry but felt we had no choice.

          If it's right for you and your co-workers then do it. Walkout but make sure you have the next job ready :-)
          • Re:Result (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dslbrian (318993) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @01:31PM (#6173068)
            Walkout but make sure you have the next job ready

            I can second this. Myself and two coworkers recently (last Sept) left our old job for a new opportunity. We were all EE-majors doing IC design work at a major cell phone maker. It wasn't a bad job, but the dept was crippled by bad management. Projects that should have taken months took years instead, and even then a good bit of them were eventually cancelled. All the while the boneheads in the organization floated to the top and the whole mess degenerated into a political power grab for upper mgmt to feed their egos into thinking they were doing something important.

            It might not sound untolerable, but trust me after you work on a project for a long time, spending uncountable hours of overtime on it, only to have some bonehead screw it up, you get seriously pissed off. So, after enduring this for a while, myself and a couple others (majority of the core people in our group) decided to look elsewhere. The choice of people was not accidental. The three of us were diverse enough in skills and experienced enough in past projects to function as a self contained design group.

            Outside of work we negotiated with various people to move ourselves as a group to a new company. This is where industry contacts really pay off. This part took a long time (on the order of a year or more), and a couple of our opportunities collapsed before they ever got anywhere. But eventually we negotiated to all move to a new company and form a new design group. At that point we got offer letters extended to all of us, told our previous employer we were leaving, and a week later we were in new offices, with new cubes, etc.

            Now in the short term it sucked as we all put in a lot of overtime in order to set a good impression on our new employers. They had a bunch of urgent projects for us to chew on, so they were eager to have us go. Everyone got ~30% pay increases to boot, so it all worked out. There is always the risk of unemployment in the near term, whereas in the old job one could assume some amount of job security (I personally think this is a bad assumtion), but I wouldn't change my decision either way.

            The thing people should realize above all is that job security does NOT come from your job, it comes from your skills. If you have skills, you can get a job. Jobs come and go, but your skill set stays with you. The best thing you can do as far as job security is to learn as much as you can and augment your skills as much as you can.

            I would recommend that if you know a group that is skilled and intends to leave a company, work on lining up a new job first. It may take time, but there are huge advantages in moving as a group. The new company should realize that in acquiring a group of people, they not only get new skilled people, but people that have proven that they -can-work-together-. This is a great benefit, especially if the group can work on its own. In addition, you end up knowing your coworkers, and what their skills are or are not. Pick good people, and move as a group, I would highly recommend it if you can do it.
        • that's pretty nieve (Score:4, Informative)

          by Brigadier (12956) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:46PM (#6172565)


          I worked for a 4 man tech support crew once .. you heard me 4 man, well two women included. The company was an international sign and graphics firm. we were averaging about 30 calls resolved a day with a call queue that went up to 200 at some points. well we griped moaned complained. I even had a chance to talk one on one with some VP's. The result .... the manager installed a scrolling counter that showed who was taking the most calls. the result instead of taking the time to answer custumer questions you woudl tell them to reboo then call back. I've long since left the company and am quite happy in my new job. my cronies who I once plotted with are still working watching the score board. My advice is find a new job, there are many companies out there that will treat you like gold.
    • You also have to take into consideration that if this plan did work and they decide that they couldn't live without you now, that doesn't mean 6 months down the road they replace you with new people.

      If this plan did work it would also make you all look like trouble-makers. They would please you now, to keep the business going, but then slowly hire new people (at a cheaper rate) to learn everything you do and simply replace you.

      So perhaps you should rethink your plan. Remember, no one is untouchable. No one is unreplaceable. You may think this, but it's simply not true.
    • Re:Result (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cadillactux (577893) <jr111.cadillactux@org> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:04AM (#6171168) Homepage
      As was mentioned before, unemployment only applies if you get fired, or do not leave on your own accord.

      Instead of just walking out, and facing almost certain termination, take it a different way. IANAL, but I do not think a company can put you on call 24x7 without compensation. ESPCIALLY if it is not in your job description that you should hav signed when you started (or when it was last updated). Now, as far as the 50-60 hour work weeks, you ARE getting paid overtime for them? If not, I KNOW the law says something about that. But again, IANAL and I dont know if the law says something about the ammount of hour a company and make you work.

      But back to the On-call business. You have every right to say "no" to your company if they call you at home. Your personal life is your personal life and they are NOT allowed to ask you why you cannot come into work. You simply have to tell them you are unavailable. Or simply, screen your calls. If the company decides to get stupid and fire you becasue you would not answer their call-ins, you have legal grounds for an unlawful termination suit.

      Or, in troll terms...
      1. Blow of company call-ins
      2. Get fired by company
      3. ???
      4. Profit!!!

      Now, dont quote me on this... becasue laws vary from state to state, and even city to city... CHECK before you decide to do anything. Doing your homework is the best bet for fighting any tyrannic company.
      • Re:Result (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BobRooney (602821) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @01:57PM (#6173371) Homepage
        Scenario:

        Your boss requires you to work 50-60 hour work weeks without compensation. You and your co-workers are so fed up you want to just walk out. If you don't care if you get fired, and in fact wouldnt mind it as an alternative to quiting(mmmm unemployment) just start working EXACTLY a 40 hour work week to the second. Arrive at your desk promtly at 9AM work until your appointed lunch break, take a full but not long lunch break. Never ever ever ever eat at your desk or order food in. Leave the office for lunch every day. Finally, do just enough of your job to qualify as doing it. If you're in the middle of a line of code when 5PM rolls around stop, save your work, lock your workstation down and walk out the door.

        If your employer complains or reprimands you point out that you are doing your job and doing it competently. If they want you to do more they need to compensate you for your work. Also, cite life events and create "plans" that are inflexible and preclude you from randomly working late. Kids/wife/sick family member work very well for this.

        Basically, do nothing "wrong" but do nothing extra either. They'll either hook you up with a raise or fire you. Either way its on your terms.
  • by sweeney37 (325921) * <mikesweeney@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:03AM (#6170498) Homepage Journal
    On a comedy special years ago, Bill Cosby quoted parents telling kids, "I brought you into this world, I can take you out, and I can make another one that looks just like you."

    With today's job market I'm afraid the company will just replace you with people that are hungry for work.

    I could be wrong, but I've always lived by the mantra "better safe, than sorry."

    Mike
    • This is a good point. Unless your work is very specialized, you are easily replaced. And, you would be replaced with cheaper labor too. On top of that, you will most likely take a pay cut in your next job--that is if you even get another one. Just a couple of things to keep in mind.
    • With today's job market I'm afraid the company will just replace you with people that are hungry for work.

      Which isn't always so obvious.
      The fact that the job market is low, and there's a bunch of unemployed specialists, doesn't meen that there'is a bunch of *good*, hard-working, unemployed specialists.
      And if the staff that quits is a good one, the replacement will be difficult(if not impossible) to do.

      Anyway, yes a company may replace _anybody_ within a week or so, but in the futur it may loose a lot.

    • by utahjazz (177190) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:17AM (#6170681)
      the company will just replace you with people that are hungry for work.

      And the new guys will look at your code (or whatever you do) and say, "Man this is a mess. Where do I begin refactoring? I'm going to have to re-write this whole thing! How did you people ever put up with those losers? [language1]? Who uses [language1] anymore? We'll rewrite the whole thing in [language2]. You guys are so lucky those wankers quit!".
    • by msuzio (3104) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:20AM (#6171446) Homepage
      Who cares how or if they replace you? You're leaving. Unless this is some sort of bluff to make the company cave in, you could care fsck all what they do after you leave. In my experience, what they do is get screwed over *hard*. Oh, they'll cope, they'll survive, but this is what will happen:

      Scenario 1: Some of you leave, but not all
      Result: The pressure mounts on the remaining folks, and now the pressure *must* cascade above and below, because if you're straining now, after you leave the others will be even more stressed. So now management starts to feel some of the heat, and other departments get wind of this poor situation too...

      So, now even more people are getting pressured, stuff starts dropping off the table, and either the company figures out how to relieve the stress or in time they lose even more employees. Even if people don't quit, I've seen many 'sit-ins' at work where people just come in and screw off because they don't care anymore. End result, company is screwed if they are in any sort of competitive field, because they've been forced to sit on their ass dealing with internal IT issues while the competition gets stuff done

      Scenario 2: You *all* leave (perhaps to a competitor if your non-competes don't interfere, and much of the time they don't hold water)
      Result: As above, but worse. They can hire replacements right away, but even brilliant people in a new environment have some ramp-up time. Plus, if *any* of the previous people remain, these new people are going to be disheartened pretty quickly... the new folks won't quit (they need the job), but are they going to work with a song in their heart and their full mental powers engaged? Not likely. So the company either stagnates or continues to fall.

      I've seen it happen *a lot*. Both my previous job, and to a certain extent my current position went through this. In my current job, we pulled back from the brink, made the best of a bad situation, and got management to (somewhat) "fix" things. We still went from 22 people to 4 people in my 'group', but we also changed the expectations and plans we had, and now my job is relatively stress-free.
    • by hype7 (239530) <u3295110NO@SPAManu.edu.au> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:52AM (#6171912) Journal
      where's the humour in these threads?!?

      You know what I'd do? I'd get up on the back of a truck, and do a Presidential Speech a la the one done in Independence Day [imdb.com]: "Today... we celebrate... INDEPENDENCE DAY"

      -- james
      ps Am I the only one that thinks that speech was the only decent part of that movie?
    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:06PM (#6172094)
      This is very true, and particularly true if you live in a second or third tier city where the community of IT Directors/CIOs and higher-level IT opportunities is limited. If you should *succeed* at crippling a business for a period of time, you could get blacklisted as a troublemaker and have difficulty finding a job or getting promitions if you do find a job.

      I also wonder if a particularly successful fscking of an IT infrastructure couldn't put you at some risk for a lawsuit claiming sabotage. Even if it didn't have a chance of success, you're unemployed and having to defend yourself in a civil suit. That $25k in savings will disappear in a blink just getting a bogus suit dismissed, one with a shade of merit? Hello, homelessness!

      My personal "extreme quitting" plan would be to submit a letter to my boss outlining my reasons for leaving, as well as outlining my availability on a contract basis to provide continuity on these NON-NEGOTIABLE terms:

      1) Work will be billed at a rate of $200 per hour with a four hour per day minimum, including telephone consultation, travel and offsite work.

      2) All expenses, including meals, parking, travel, supplies and equipment required will be billed and provided by the vendors of my choosing. I will seek approval for all purchases over $500 and all materials will become the company's property when my consulting term is over.

      3) The company will indemnify me against any damage or losses resulting during my contractual employment.

      4) An up-front non-refundable retainer of $5000, payable in cashier's check or cash ONLY, is required before any work, including telephone consultation, will take place. The first 25 billable hours will be subtracted from this retainer.

      5) Payment for all hours is due via cash or cashier's check on the Friday of each week before any further work will be performed.

      This prevents them from saying you fucked them to harm them and won't help, you have a better basis for arguing you didn't like the job/pay/whatever. The frequent cash payment requirements keep them honest and from getting work and just not paying, important if there's financial problems with the company or if they just have no choice.

      Of course in my personal fantasy I get a call from my ex-boss 72 hours later saying they agree to all these terms and that if I will come in today that they will have a cashier's check for $5k waiting for me. I work for about 40 hours and make two months salary.
  • No, really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanGrail (472847) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:04AM (#6170510)
    Sounds great.

    Why face the job market alone when you can face it with all your co-workers?
  • In this economy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EricWright (16803) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170521) Journal
    ...if you don't have a place to go, suck it up, find another job, THEN quit. You're crazy to walk out on your only opportunity these days.
    • by jtheory (626492) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:48AM (#6170971) Homepage Journal
      Neither of these is a good answer at this time!!

      Maybe the description of the situation left some things out... but this really seems like a big case of an "us against them" failure of communication. Notice this bit: "You get the feeling that the company is just going to take advantage of you no matter how and what happens." Feelings, huh? You don't know what's going on or why, but you have these feelings?

      There is no "company", a single malevolent entity that is treating you like dirt. There are a lot of individuals involved in the decisions to ask more hours of you, put you on call w/o extra compensation, etc.. Right now, one of your managers is probably talking to his superior, saying "well, I guess we could ask W and X to handle those few extra on-call hours... it sure sucks, but they seem to be okay with the increases so far, and someone has to do it. That should keep customers Y and Z with us, so we'll be okay on payroll through this quarter, at least."

      Do you get it? You have to ASSUME that everyone is on your side from the very beginning, and start talking to your manager, their manager, etc.. Let them know that you and the other grunts are starting to give under the strain. Find out what the problems of the company are, and talk about how the company is dealing with them.

      Important: approach everything with a friendly, "we're all doing what we can" attitude. As soon as you get hostile, whoever you're talking to will get an uncontrollable urge to dig in their heels. Instead, decide where your breaking point would be, and discuss it reasonably ("if this happens, I'd really have to leave, and neither of us wants that to happen"). You are NOT making threats. Make this clear. Explain that you will keep your manager informed as the situation evolves, and that you will not leave without warning.

      If you start getting frustrated with anything other than the economy, calm down and pick up the conversation later.

      Bottom line: decide what kind of sacrifices this company is worth to you, and get in on the big picture.

      Good luck.

      --
      "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler". - Albert Einstein
      • by nick_davison (217681) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:58AM (#6171985)
        Communication (and the understanding that comes with it) really is the key to dealing with most situations that leave you pissed off.

        Every single company I have ever worked for in the IT industry, going back over about a decade now, has had asshole management. Every single one has had groups of pissed of grunts (or groups of lower mgmt as I progressed). I finally reached the point where I stopped and wondered what the common link was?

        People who work in IT are, now the gold diggers are gone, generally slightly obsessive, lacking in social skills, nerd types.

        The managers have next-to no social skills. The grunts have next-to no social skills. Add in to that the grunts used to be treated like gold dust and have entitlement complexes while the management hated that and are now getting their revenge.

        The thing is, you can't change the management. Now the economy is tanked, they know you have no leverage over them. You can get together and talk about mass walkouts but the reality is, unless everyone goes, they can hire new and retrain - and probably for less than they're paying you. And you know that at least one of your indignant group will buckle for the job security. Walkouts are a nice dream for taking the power back but they're just that. There goes your one form of leverage.

        So, if you can't change them, what can you change? Well, there's the other side of the equation. If shit ain't going to get better, it's probably time to learn to deal with shit.

        Find a good anger management book [amazon.com]. It'll help you understand that anger is just stress manifesting with an anger trigger. Turning stress in to anger just leaves you pissed off and stressed. It'll help you learn to rephrase situations for yourself so you can dissipate that stress better.

        One of the main things they'll talk about is the fallacy of entitlement. The notion of "should"s. You're probably reading this thinking, "Why should I have to be the one to change?!" Simple question for you: Honestly now, is there anything you can do to get them to change? Try thinking of three situations in your life where you've been yelled at and told you "should" change and have actually done so - do you think it'll suddenly work for your managers? If you can't get them to change, do you really want to just stay in the same stressful, unhappy situation?

        Get a book, take a class, whatever, on anger management. It'll teach you to dissipate the anger so the next thing that comes up doesn't seem quite so bad. Once you're chilled, you might find better ways to get the change you want. Even if you don't, at least the fucked up job will be more tolerable.
      • by infinite9 (319274) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:00PM (#6172016)
        There is no "company", a single malevolent entity that is treating you like dirt.

        No, but there sure is a small circle of executives who make those tough decisions while on the way to the golf club in their 7 series BMW for a nice lobster dinner. The company I work for just cut vacation. I get 1 week a year now. I also have to take it before the fiscal year end on 9/1. So there's now no time to accrue vacation before christmas. How nice. And those altruistic beings who are just looking out for the company? Let's see how quick they are to give back that benefit once the economy turns around.

        There are a lot of individuals involved in the decisions to ask more hours of you, put you on call w/o extra compensation, etc.. Right now, one of your managers is probably talking to his superior, saying "well, I guess we could ask W and X to handle those few extra on-call hours... it sure sucks, but they seem to be okay with the increases so far, and someone has to do it. That should keep customers Y and Z with us, so we'll be okay on payroll through this quarter, at least."

        Talk about a major case of rose colored glasses. When these wonderful managers mismanage the company into the ground, then ask me to clean up their mess, should I?
        You have to ASSUME that everyone is on your side from the very beginning, and start talking to your manager, their manager, etc.. Let them know that you and the other grunts are starting to give under the strain. Find out what the problems of the company are, and talk about how the company is dealing with them.


        Have you ever had a paycheck bounce? I have. Have you ever had your employer siezed by the IRS for failure to pay payroll taxes? I have. Have you ever been promised bonueses on eight separate occaisions and received a fraction on one only once? I have. Have you ever been fired because your manager thought you were better than him? I have. Have you ever gotten in trouble for not predicting the future or reading someone's mind? I have. Have you ever predicted a project's failure months and millions of dollars in advance? I have.

        Have you ever been warned before your employer goes out of business? I never have.
        Employers are not on your side. Ever. There are only two possibilities. If it's a private company, they're on the owner's side. If it's a public company, they're on the shareholder's side. Never yours. You are a commodity to be exploited however possible, no matter what the HR propaganda says.

        Instead, decide where your breaking point would be, and discuss it reasonably ("if this happens, I'd really have to leave, and neither of us wants that to happen"). You are NOT making threats. Make this clear. Explain that you will keep your manager informed as the situation evolves, and that you will not leave without warning.


        And you'll be the first to be laid off. Employers want sheep. If you want to keep your job, act like one. Tell them nothing because they're certainly not volunteering any information. If you don't like your job, find another one. But never let them know you're looking. Otherwise, they'll remove you before you have the next job lined up.

        Like it or not, you're in a business relationship with your employer. One in which you're at an extreme disadvantage. If your employer wants to cut your benefits, they simply say, "Well, things are tight, so we're zapping vacation this year." Can you imagine what would happen if you did that? "Well boss, you've been working me harder so I'm going to take an extra week of vacation this year." After the laughter subsides, they'll replace you.

        The work culture in this country sucks. And it's time for a change.
    • by pVoid (607584) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:01AM (#6171101)
      I was in a similar situation. I did walk out. But not before making sure I had a 6 month parachute in my bank account, and some damn near certain contract work lined up.

      That being said, I thank god I had the parachute, because I've been self employed for close to 10 months now, and some of the projects I was supposed to get right after I quit my job are only now starting to come in.

      The thing you don't want to do, and I agree with parent poster here, is starve to the point that your breath smells... then you have no bargaining power anywhere, and you'll end up being a janitor. If you have enough money to float for at least a few months, you can play 'aggressive' (read not let yourself get raped) by the market.

      On a side note, quiting my job after the exact same scenario was the best thing I've ever done in my life. I used to be bitter, jaded, pessimistic, and always ready to snap into a bad mood. Now I'm jaded and pessimistic, but I enjoy life SO much more. Even more satisfying is watching the people who *didn't* quit back then, who are still complaining about the SAME things, 10 months after... not because I'm enjoying their pain, but because I can see exactly how much energy I was wasting in being that way back then.

      My moral: if things don't look good now, they will most likely not look good in 6 months unless something is done. Staying at your current place is not "something".

      Also, I would keep in mind that mass exodus will freak your managers out, hiring is the most expensive thing a company can do, so keep that in mind. You are in a company, in the business world... this is not favors in the school yard. IF you finally decide you will walk out - don't. First threaten walking out. Lay it on the table. Say "either we work a compromise of some sort, or we're out of here, chose". If you are determined to survive in the wild, then right now you are the most valuable selves you'll be ever. This is the moment when you can cash in on your skills - not when everything is peachy and all is running smooth. But always remember that you might end up staying there, so don't make ridiculous demands which will hurt the company and you ultimately either. Fine balance ain't it! =)

  • by aborchers (471342) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170523) Homepage Journal
    Was getting together with a guy from the cold line (I was a dishwasher) and walking out of a Mexican restaurant after telling the manager we were going in search of the perfect taco...

  • by tdvaughan (582870) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170524) Homepage
    If the company really is in 'deep financial shit' then your action could be the final straw. And if you're as important as you say you are then your action will have a severe impact on the company at this difficult time. I guess you need to ask yourself what you feel is more important: the well-being of the company (and your source of employment) or your personal pride? Perhaps you ought to think about how lucky you are to even HAVE a job right now.
    • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:12AM (#6170602)
      Perhaps you ought to think about how lucky you are to even HAVE a job right now

      It's precisely that attitude that perpetuates the perception a lot of bosses (and governments, for that matter) have that it's OK to treat staff as consumables.

      If you act like a doormat, don't be too surprised when someone wipes his boots on you.

      • by SiChemist (575005) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:39AM (#6170869) Homepage
        Perhaps you ought to think about how lucky you are to even HAVE a job right now

        It's precisely that attitude that perpetuates the perception a lot of bosses (and governments, for that matter) have that it's OK to treat staff as consumables.

        You're absolutely right. My previous employer often stated that an employee should be grateful to be employed and should be willing to do him personal favors and work overtime. What a load of crap!

        The employer pays for services rendered; the employee supplies those services. No sane business expects to get services from other businesses for free, so why do they expect that from their employees?
      • by Bull999999 (652264) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:40AM (#6170888) Journal
        "It's precisely that attitude that perpetuates the perception a lot of bosses (and governments, for that matter) have that it's OK to treat staff as consumables."

        And how is this different from how employees treated employers during the economic boom? Employees demanded unheard benifits and jumped ship as soon as they found another job that pays more. Now that the table has turned, they whine.
    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:50AM (#6170990) Journal
      "I guess you need to ask yourself what you feel is more important: the well-being of the company (and your source of employment) or your personal pride"

      I submit that in any decent company, this question should not and will not come up. Even if it is already 'in deep financial shit'. In a decent company, staff may be asked to bear a heavier burden or even take less pay, while the downturn lasts. The point is that staff is asked to make a sacrifice, rather than being pushed into that situation by management firing half a department and then expecting the remaining staff to do all of the work. Also, a good company will reward their employees' loyalty when things go better again.

      Don't tell me that I am somehow expected to make these sacrifices. And that is exactly the attitude of (too) many companies these days: "Times are rough and we all have to suck it up. Hey, be thankful you have a job at all". Treat people like shit and they'll return the favor one day.

      And what if inviting a number of co-workers to walk out to form our own company may spell the end for your erstwhile employer, sending other people into unemployment? If you think that that fact should give you pause, think again. You are not a slave to your company nor to your coworkers.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170528) Homepage Journal
    You'd better have something lined up to move into, because you will have certainly burned bridges at your current employer. Plus, how will you spin this situation to prospective employers during the interview process?

    Q: So, why did you leave your last position?

    A: Things got rough, they treated us like dirt, I left.

    This will raise doubts in the mind of the interviewer as to whether you're a person who can help an organization weather tough times...
    • by ashultz (141393) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:10AM (#6170581)

      Well, you're welcome to play it safe that way, carefully moving from exploiting company to exploiting company.

      Clearly you should spin it a little better than that sentence, but if a company looks at you and thinks "hm, when we want him to bend over and take it, he's not going to" and the doesn't give you a job... did you want to work for them?

      -andy
      • by TopShelf (92521) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:22AM (#6170723) Homepage Journal
        As an employer, I would naturally consider whether a prospect is the type that will help the company get through tough times, or bolt when the stress hits. The process to hire for an opening is long, expensive, and time consuming, so you'd like to hire people that will stick around.

        An an employee, there are two additional ways to look at this. First and foremost, have your concerns been known to management, or is this a bunch of guys grumbling at the water cooler? If management knew that things had gotten that bad, they would take action. Why would they risk a critical team walking out like that? They might not be able to wave a wand and make things better right away, but they'll most likely do something. Secondly, as an employee you can also look at circumstances like this as an opportunity...
    • by mekkab (133181) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:13AM (#6170617) Homepage Journal
      Good point TopShelf.

      Combined with other people's comments that "You are replaceable"
      You and your team might as well critique each other's resumes and start applying for jobs.

      If you are walking out, its because you don't want to come back- not because you want them to treat you with respect. If you want to be treated with respect, ASK that you be treated with respect. If the response is a lot of Management BS (hopeful language but nothing concrete) you know that they aren't going to do anything about it. So send those resumes, line up a better jorb (homestar runner typo!) and then LEAVE.
    • Try this. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:09AM (#6171258) Homepage Journal
      Q: So, why did you leave your last position?

      A: Things got rough, they treated us like dirt, I left.

      BZZZZZT, wrong answer.

      A: We did not like the way our management was handeling our product so we formed a partnership. You may be familiar with OUR_NAME and OUR_PRODUCTS and OUR_CLIENTS.

      Of course, the question only has to be answered if the partnership fails. As such partnerships are the way of free software and free software is the future, I would not project a failure. If you end up with an interviewer that wants to work you to death and dispose of you, you might be better off somewhere else.

    • by infinite9 (319274) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:22AM (#6171480)
      This will raise doubts in the mind of the interviewer as to whether you're a person who can help an organization weather tough times...

      What is the matter with everyone? I know who I am, do you know who you are? What do you want from life? This discussion reminds me of a commercial that's currently playing on the radio. It's a world wide wireless commercial where this guy is playing golf with his boss. The narrator describes the perfect ass-kissing session. Then wraps up with the boss making a condescending comment to the employee. "He's getting noticed!" I say bull-shit! Life is not about climbing the corporate ladder, or kissing the right asses, or doing what's "proper" (something my step father always harped on). It's about friends, family, personal growth, and happiness. Are your priorities straight? What will you tell your kids after 20 years of 60 hour work weeks and three heart attacks when they hate you? I was providing for you? More important than paying the bills, or climbing the ladder, or saying the right thing in a meeting, or working long hours is simply being present for your children. Who will be your friends when you retire? Your boss? Your indian coworkers? What goals are you working toward? To make director by age 40? I have two main goals right now. One is to sell my house for enough money to pay cash for my next place to live. The other is to support my five kids while only working 75% of the year so that I can take month long RV trips with them in the summers and be home for every christmas vacation. These are attainable goals if you set your priorities correctly. If you hate your job, quit. It's not worth it. Find another one. Or change careers. But never lose sight of what's important. Like the other poster said, if you act like a door matt, people will walk all over you. The answer to the question above is perfectly acceptable. They treated me badly, I left. Saying this sends a message to the new employer that they can't treat you like dirt, which is what you want, right? Being a pussy and bending over for the new employer will set you up to be treated that way. If they don't hire you, so be it. Find something else. I've lost jobs because of this attitude. But I've been unemployed for only about 6 weeks total over the last three years. When I interviewed for my current position, I made it clear. Jerk me around and I'll leave. So far, I've been treated with respect. And I'll continue to work here as long as that doesn't change.
    • by Alan Cox (27532) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:49PM (#6172597) Homepage
      "A: Things got rough, they treated us like dirt, I left."

      The correct A is of course

      "A: it became obvious that I wasnt going to fufill my potential at the former employer so I'm applying somewhere with more management vision"

      This all also depends on country. In much of Europe in that situation its more effective to exercise the right to secret ballot to unionize the office.

      (Especially if the parent company is american because US unions are a bit different and some US employers have series mental scars from meeting them and the results of the word union in their presence is a kodak moment 8))

      The other question raised is whether you would break the company. In which case its a shame the execs havent actually had the decency to call everyone together and explain precisely how far there is between the shit and the fan and what has to be done about it.

  • No, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170529) Homepage Journal
    We haven't done that, yet, but our concern right now is like everyone else: unemployment. A few of us are thinking of putting together a business plan to start a new company, but that's going nowhere fast. We don't yet have that one great, unique, amazing software idea to start a company. So we're all stuck waiting it out until the market's better and we can move on or we finally come up with that great idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:05AM (#6170530)
    Will Robinson - my hooks are flailing wildly! Dangerous union-like activity reported! Shall I deploy anti socialism defences and the boss-pay rises?



    Europa Endlos

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:06AM (#6170532)
    Is to collectively refuse to do any work, until you get fired or laid off.

    You can't collect unemployment when you quit, you know.
  • by warmcat (3545) * on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:06AM (#6170536)
    ...that might help you make up your mind.

    Would you rather be out on your own looking for another job than continuing to turn up every day and take what is being dished out? Consider that despite the angry words of your colleagues, they may not step up when the crucial moment comes, and you alone may be the one leaving. Is that still okay?

    Do you have savings to take 6 months with no income, or maybe shares you can sell to cover that period... because if you leave, it will be like leaving a relationship, you will be depressed, think and talk of nothing else for months, boring your friends and family until you get over it.

    Is there any upward future for you in the company, ie, is continuing to work there acting as an investment for you that may pay off at a later time? If there is some hope of a career path, given how you are treated by people at that level, is that somewhere you want to be? Given the trajectory of the company, is there going to be a later time for this to pay off in?

    Can you get out without dropping innocent colleagues in the shit?

    • by Zathrus (232140) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:30AM (#6170785) Homepage
      Do you have savings to take 6 months with no income

      I'm glad someone brought that up... if you don't (or aren't working toward that goal - and by that I include paying off debts like credit cards first), and you're currently employed, then you're an idiot. Plain and simple.

      And if you claim that that's bullshit, and you can't save that kind of money, then you need to go read some investment books. I highly recommend pretty much anything from The Motley Fool, as well as The Millionaire Next Door. It's not that hard, and saving for your retirement and for short-term unemployment is the best thing you can do.

      Anyway, if you don't have those kinds of funds, seriously think about securing a new position before leaving the old one. Otherwise you're going to be in a world of hurt. And realize that while 3-6 months of savings is good, plan ahead for what you're going to do when that money runs out and you still haven't found a position. Don't be negative, just be realistic -- part of that includes planning for worst cases. (And, actually, if you don't have a job in 6 months then you also need to figure out what to do for health insurance - COBRA runs out at that point. Don't go uninsured, since any future insurer will then be able to point at "previously existing medical condition" to avoid paying for many things).

      Can you get out without dropping innocent colleagues in the shit?

      Doubtful, but there's little he can do about that at this point... if the managers are overworking their staff, it's not his fault. And getting out may be the best thing to do. Yeah, more will fall on his coworkers, but that was due to bad decisions by management, not by him (I hope).

      As far as the mass exodus bit goes: unless you have a business plan to work on for yourself and your coworkers -- complete with funding -- then there's no point. All you're doing is walking away from the company, ensuring you can't even get unemployment benefits, and screwing the company while you're at it. If you're unhappy with the job, then leave. Or at least start looking for a new gig. Don't take all this crap about "be happy you have a job!" because some jobs just aren't worth it.

      Yes, not having a job sucks - I was let go from my company (along with 60% of the other employees) ~18 months ago. And I found a new job in a bit over a month. But wow did that suck. If I hadn't been let go, then I would've been looking anyway, because I'm quite sure that the job went to hell in a handbasket.
  • by AnotherSteve (447030) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:06AM (#6170537)
    That kind of thing is cool to talk about, but it is like starting a union. If someone in the department doesn't walk out, then you're out of work and you've handed them a promotion. So stick together. Everyone should hand in their resignation at the same time. Better impact that way, anyhow.

  • by Violet Null (452694) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:06AM (#6170539)
    Are you planning on walking out with your coworkers and forming a company of your own? Because, if you're not, there's no point in doing it in unison. Sure, you might wake someone at the company up, but more than likely they won't care, and even if they did, it's too late for you. Meanwhile, you're left holding the bag, as it were, with no job.

    If the situation is that bad, you should do the normal route: look for a job while keeping yours. If/when you find another job, you quit. Your coworkers can all do the same. Things'll work out much better if you only bail when you have a parachute, and, no matter how bad your job is, it's better than no job at all.
  • by OMG (669971) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170544)
    A close friend of mine worked for a local ISP. The ISP got bought by a bigger company. The new management decided to replaces all unix mail-systems with MS Exchange.

    The complete technical department from the "old" left the company within days.

    Management will never learn ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170547)
    You work for EDS?
  • Be careful... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mixy1plik (113553) * <mhunt&ecin,net> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170548)
    Back during the big ol' bubble of the late nineties, I worked with a development team that came up with everything that end-users interacted with. Back then, we were doing just as you described- endless hours, little or no compensation... but we all still believed in the dream that was "we'll be millionaires soon enough". Thinking back, we were all in a perfect position to leave and start something on our own.

    NDAs and other such things in your contract might not let you break off "en masse". That is something to be careful of. Make sure you don't have contractual limitations or obligations that could prevent you from making a clean break. Using your collective knowledge and contacts, I think you all have a pretty good shot at making it on your own.
  • by md17 (68506) <james@NOspam.jamesward.org> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170549) Homepage
    And there is no looking back. The pay sucks, but the freedom is priceless (atleast until all my credit cards are max'd out). I wouldn't go back if my life depended on it.
  • Don't do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stevew (4845) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:07AM (#6170551) Journal
    Look - if you are going to jump ship -GREAT! Only be a little smart and find another job before you jump.

    I know it would give you great satisfaction to flip off the boss and walk as a group. Yet, the economic reality today says that is a really dumb idea. If you don't like your current position, at least have another place to land before you toss it.

    Further, it is HIGHLY suggested that even though you don't like the place, that you don't burn bridges. What are the chances you are going to work with some of the managers/people above you in the future (answer from 25 years in the business - 100%) Leave gracefully and your career will do better in the long run.

  • by Alranor (472986) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:08AM (#6170562)
    discarded Pizza boxes are an inexpensive source of Cheese.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:08AM (#6170563)
    What are you going to suggest next, labor unions? Do you think that you and your buddies are entitled to be treated like human beings?

    If you were a real man, you'd volunteer to work 80 hour weeks and come up with a plan to replace all of your colleagues with contract developers from India and Romania.
  • Mo' Money Mo' Money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gato_mato (572107) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:09AM (#6170569)
    Had this happen not too long ago. Simple We walked out & formed our own company. The old employer realized that they could not stay afloat without us and contracted us do do the same job as before through our new company. The results - Limited work hours (read 40-50 hours/week instead of the insane bull of 70 to 80), More money (even after we pay taxes, FICA, etc.), our own company (we hold equal shares), and more contracts from other places that needed the same kind of service. The down side - we where living in VERY thin budget for ab out 3 months while it all got setup and settled down.

    Gato
  • I suppose... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigitalSorceress (156609) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:09AM (#6170575)
    I suppose that it depends on whether you're walking out for good, or just as a work stoppage to show them you're important. I'll assume from the title, you're talking the former.

    The problem with the latter is that if the company really is in trouble, you'll be putting the nails in its coffin.

    In this job market, I would personally not be too excited about the prospect of a job hunt. I've got friends who have been actively looking for over 6 months - it's kinda rough.

    Another thing to consider is that some might just decide to let you all walk, and feign some form of loyalty to the company... it's a win-win for them. If the company survives, their "loyalty" will be rewarded, and if it crashes and burns, they will be eligible to collect unemployment while those who quit will not.

    (just some random thoughts)
  • by Carbon Unit 549 (325547) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:10AM (#6170583) Homepage
    Why should you organize yourselves just to quit. A better solution is to quietly agree to stop working so hard. Perhaps you could slowly start leaving earlier and/or coming later until you get back to 40 hrs/week.

    Just a thought..
  • HR Perspectives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:11AM (#6170591) Homepage Journal
    My father is a 'big wig' in HR. We've seen many a strikes in the past.
    Dealing with a union is nice, cause its a one-on-one arguement and you can get things moving that way.
    But if everyone leaves in your situation, they need to know why you left, and who to talk to make things right.

    Another point, during strikes, about 25% of the time, the people were simply replaced.
    You are talking about a poor IT economy. Lots of unemployeed geeks that just want a job, even if its 50-60 hour weeks (as long as you can put food on the table).

    The bottom line? Don't even think about doing this unless you are prepared not to come back.
    You're better off just doing the work, and talking to management about compensation.
  • This worked for us (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UncleSocks (243734) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:13AM (#6170610) Homepage
    Hi,

    A number of years ago, I was working at a really innovative company. The technical chalenges were great etc... However, I and my fellow engineers began to realize that our immediate manager was a jerk (made false statements to management, political, concerned more with his image than the product).


    One of us talked with the manager about these perceived shortcomings, and he reacted _very_ defensively and hostile. We then lost confidence we could improve his management style.


    Two of our team quit and returned to their former company.


    The rest of us were considering doing the same, but we liked the company. Instead of quitting, we went to our department head. We explained our problem, and why our peers had quit. We said, either the lying fellow goes or we go.


    Two weeks later we had a new manager and were from then on as happy as clams.


    This was a 'pre dot com boom' time, but I would do the same thing now if the problem reoccured. If your team is _really_ valuable, then the company will do what is necessary to keep you happy. If your team isn't that valuable, improve your skills and contribution until it is valuable.

  • Alternatives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harik (4023) <Harik@chaos.ao.net> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:13AM (#6170615)
    Walk out each day after 8 hours. No compensation for overtime? No overtime. Something breaks while you're on (unpaid) call? Wait till monday morning to fix it. Let them know that you're going to treat the company as it treats you. If the entire department does that there's pretty much nothing they can do about it. They can't fire you for cause in that situation, the amount they'd have to pay in wrongful termination would be staggering.

    Would you like to try to convince a judge and jury that these 'lazy' workers were fired because they refused to work unpaid overtime? Didn't think so.

    --Dan

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:14AM (#6170625)
    A group of us at my company just did this. It has had its problems. I haven't gotten my last paycheck because, just as we all believed, the company couldn't survive without us. The second effect is that I am now emotionally and economically linked to a group of people who, while not the enemy, I am growing sick and tired of seeing every day.

    The biggest regret I have is an accomplishment that I would never put on a resume or mention in a job interview: I put a dying company out of its misery by being part of a staged walkout. I mean who would walk to talk about that at your next job? "If the company is in trouble, I the man to kill it dead."

    My advice: don't do it. The thing you are suppose to do is get your work done and go home at 5:00pm. If they can't handle this then you will be fired which, believe it or not, will make you feel better than walkout in lockstep.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:14AM (#6170626) Journal
    Find another job. Then leave. Convince your colleagues to do the same.

    Solidarity is all well and good, but at the end of the day, the only reason any of you are working for this company is to get a paycheck at the end of the day. You don't actually owe each other anything.

    If the company suffers (as it will after a mass wlakout) it doesn't help you. It harms them, with ne benefit to you at all, and the loss of your financial stability. It doesn't matter if they learn their lesson. If they improve, you don;t work there any more.

    Admittedly, the other people will suffer even more through having to do your job if you walk out, but that will be short term. They can also find a new job. You can help each other out if you want. They can stiull choose to leave.
  • yeah, I've done this (Score:5, Informative)

    by Triple Helix (202044) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:26AM (#6170767)
    I came from a company that did exactly this sort of thing. I worked for a software shop that created enterprise software on a contract basis. Everybody worked 50 or 60 hours per week, and without fail every Friday afternoon the CEO would come into the office at 4:30 or 5:00 and give everybody some crazy new project due on Monday morning. In addition, he'd make all the developers come into the office on Sunday for a company meeting to discuss the progress of the new assignments. It was a complete mess.

    So anyway, my project manager, two other developers and I got sick of this and decided to start a company of our own. This was back in 1998. We got some funding and made a go at it. Not two days after we quit and started up the new company did we all get slapped with a lawsuit from the previous employer. The lawsuit alleges that we stole trade secrets from the previous employer, which was completely baseless. But, it accomplished the goal of putting a huge burden on us while we were just starting out.

    Fast forward to 2003. We were recently forced into chapter 7 bankruptcy, partly due to the legal fees associated with the lawsuit, but also due to the fact that my previous project manager (who was the president at the new company) was one of the worst businessmen on this planet, despite being a great project manager. The legal system is slower than molasses - we still aren't scheduled to go to trial until July of this year - nearly five years after the lawsuit was first filed! There have been some depositions, hearings, rulings, and appeals along the way, but man has this thing dragged out! Needless to say there's not any money for them to win anyway due to the bankruptcy.

    Overall, walking out and starting a new company was the greatest business decision I ever made in my life. I'm getting all sorts of offers to do contract work on the side, plus one of our customers at the new place hired me with a six-figure wage plus great benefits, and actually allowed me to write a no-compete into the employment contract. In addition, they have picked up an attorney for me and agreed to pay my legal fees in the lawsuit.

    If I could go back, I'd still say that the lean years at the new company were all worth it. My only regret was not doing it sooner - I'm already 24 years old and I'm not going to live forever.

  • Wait a minute... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sounder40 (243087) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:26AM (#6170769)
    I didn't hear you say anything about talking to your management. If your immediate supervisor/manager is unresponsive/ineffective, then you have the right to go up the chain until you get heard.

    Most companies want to know when their employees are unhappy. Most companies will do something about thier unhappy employees because they realize that unhappy employees are unproductive.

    You are the company. Be a team player. Don't go into a meeting with a manager/director/SVP/etc. making demands; help solve the problem by proposing a solution. You may have already tried some of this. That doesn't mean that you can't try again. If no one is responsive, then it may be time to move on.

    But beware... The market is not good right now, and new employers will be less than enthusiastic about hiring someone who walked out on their last employer.

    Good luck.

  • by punchdrunk (257279) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:27AM (#6170772)

    I was in a situation like this a few years ago, only the company wasn't in financial problems at all. We were posting a strong profit and higher-ups were taking nice bonuses. Meanwhile our bonus plan got trashed, we were working 70-80 hour weeks including stat holidays, and getting nothing for it. Also management was accepting contracts with deadlines we could not make without working double-time. After they asked us for the estimates and we gave them the correct amount of work.

    We were in a position where our group of 5 developers were working with custom-built software. There was a ramp-up time of several months to get new people to the point where they could be productive developers. And of course no docs :) So if we left they would have forfeited on some large contracts and they had no hope of bringing in replacements.

    We did the extra work for about 6 months, including getting screwed two quarters in a row on bonuses, before we took action. Instead of all quitting we simply announced that since the company refused to acknowledge our extra efforts on their behalf they would no longer get extra effort. We worked hard for our regular hours but no late nights, no weekend work, no coming in on holidays. Our lives all got a lot better and we still had jobs.

    Of course that was in a market where we all knew that we could walk out the door any morning and have several job offers by the afternoon :)

  • by kahei (466208) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:38AM (#6170857) Homepage
    "So why did you leave your last company?"

    "They were treating me badly so I just walked out."

    "How were they treating you?"

    "They wanted more work hours and more time on call, because the company was going through some tough times."

    "That was unacceptable to you? You weren't able to negotiate a better position?"

    "Huh? We didn't do any negotiation, we just got together and all walked out."

    "It must have been challenging to manage the changeover to a new team."

    "Nah, we just all walked out together! Maximum disruption!"

    "I see. Well, thank you for your time."

    • by Chewie (24912) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:10AM (#6171279)
      "So, why did you leave your last company?"

      "They were treating me badly enough that I had to weigh what was more important: My self-respect or a paycheck. I came to the conclusion that I had to leave."

      "How were they treating you?"

      "They started by asking for more work hours and some time on call, because the company was going through some tough times. However, it grew to about eighty hours a week just in the office, plus 24-hour call with no compensation, appreciation, or acknowledgement of our effort. It also became clear that even if the company started doing better, they would view it as more economical to keep up the workload."

      "That was unacceptable to you? You weren't able to negotiate a better position?"

      "No, there was no room for negotiation. To provide service to the customers, we did it. It had to be done, customers were depending on it, and we collectively stepped up to the plate for the good of the company."

      You see? Spin. It works for presidents, it can work for you. If there's one thing I hate, it's interviewers who think it's their job to rake you over the coals before you can join their golden circle of employment. Just because it's an employer's market doesn't mean you have to act like an ass.
  • by johannesg (664142) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:40AM (#6170887)
    We were a department of five, providing vital services for a company of about 40, which in turn was providing services to a much larger company. The (smaller) company was fucking us over in all directions, and finally enough was enough.

    It is important to realize that we were effectively irreplacable (unique job-specific skills, nothing to do with computers). Or so we thought...

    Three of us (not including myself) went ahead and set up a company, and offered our services to the larger company directly. The smaller company then started on a campaign of threats, allegations, lies, and FUD that would make Microsoft blush. The larger company used us as a lever for negotiating a better contract with the smaller company, then unceremoniously dumped us.

    So would I do it again? Hell, yes. In fact I would do it sooner, and with less restraint. This is important to realize: if we had realized what was coming we would have been less galant towards our former boss (not keeping the systems going while we were setting up our new company, for example - the price would have been high, but it would also have put tremendous pressure on our boss). And we wouldn't have believed the (verbal) assurances the larger company gave us regarding our soon-to-be contract with them.

    The story is far more complicated than this little message (I could write a book about that period), but the general idea I think is clear: we were in a bad situation, we fought, we lost, and we have no regrets.

    Some lessons you may want to remember:

    - Your former colleagues may suddenly turn into your worst enemies. They'll lie to you. They'll try to make you fail in all ways that count. And they may pretend they are still your friend while they are at it.

    - Individual members of your group may be bribed by your former boss to come back into the fold, thereby bringing back all that irreplacable knowledge.

    Are you ready to fight? Can you afford to lose? If so, go for it.

  • Reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ronfar (52216) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:41AM (#6170894) Journal
    No matter how much you might want to be the perfect doormat, crawl and grovel before your boss, and degrade yourself for the good of the company, there comes a point where you have to leave. At my last company, I admit it wasn't until upper management said, "Well, how would you guys feel about working for stock."

    At my current job, when I got fed up, I went to my boss, and said "Look, this is not what I got into this business to do. Either find me some work like you promised me when I signed on, or, with no malice between us, I will seek employment elsewhere." Note, this was at one of the scariest times in the current depression, companies were imploding everywhere you looked, where as the company I am at is a stable, established business that isn't going away for a long time. The safe route would have been, "please sir, may I have another."

    I ended up with a job that was more like what I wanted to do, and I got a big increase in salary. It was scary, though, I had made up my mind to leave if I didn't get what I wanted. Things are far from perfect now. (I'm still trapped in a big bureacracy and bored out of my mind most of the time.) However, I can tolerate the situation now where I couldn't before.

    So, basically, I think everyone has a breaking point. Everyone has a point where they say, "I've had all I can stands, I can't stands no more," even in a truly frightening economy like this one. Of course, it is easy to end up in a situation where you regret your actions, but I haven't yet.

    Or maybe I should have kept my old job, working for stock. I'm sure I'd be a rich man today (snicker.).

    • Re:Reality (Score:5, Funny)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:47AM (#6170958) Journal
      At my last company, I admit it wasn't until upper management said, "Well, how would you guys feel about working for stock."

      Same thing happened to me. So I said "Screw you, Mr. Gates. This company is never going to be succesful. Microsoft will be a forgotten name with worthless stock in a year."
  • by Paul Doom (21946) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:44AM (#6170929) Homepage Journal
    This may be an arcane reference, but I think this idea was tried already a long time ago. As the story goes, workers once banded together to force employers to improve working conditions, pay, etc. As the story goes, these groups called themselves "unions".

    Of course, in the tech industry, where we are all "professionals" and get "salaries" and have "careers", we are above such plebeian things as unions, a day's wage for a day's work, any sort of job security, or any action that would bring into question our undying and unflinching support of whatever corporate entity we are employed by.

    Stand up! Companies treat employees as badly as the employees put up with. One bit of advise: don't just walk out without warning. Get together as a group and talk with management. Be up front about the problems and what would fix them. Don't threaten to walk out, just use your collective voice to give them a chance to fix things. Then if things don't improve, walk. I say this because I once worked for a small company with a CEO that was a real piece of work. All 15 or so employees got together and met with the board, not threatening to walk, but deadly serious. A month or so later, he was gone. If one or two managers are the real problem, organize and go above them. Don't be petty or complain about "style" or "personality". Instead, provide a clear list of issues and how they hurt productivity and morale, and what can be done to fix them. If it works, you won't have to walk. If it doesn't, walk quickly. You will have given them the chance to save themselves a heap of expense and trouble.

    Please excuse the ranting, but as someone with a family and a life, I have been disgusted by all the corporate boot-licking and cowardice I have seen. Big salaries and perks during the boom distracted people from seeing that they we being used. If you work 80 hour weeks, you are doing the work of two for the price of one. Who is the sucker?
  • Been there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lovebyte (81275) <lovebyte2000@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:45AM (#6170940) Homepage
    The company I used to work for was really fucked up. Managed like rubbish by a trio of morons. Full of promises and never delivering.

    All of us researchers and technicians were ok, nice to work with, producing very good stuff and feeling utterly exploited. One day the trio of morons that tried to manage the company sacked the only sane person in the company outside of the techs. There was a general walk out of all the employed techies, one by one in the space of 1 month.

    Nobody got unemployment benefits (this is in Europe). 1 year later, some people still do odd jobs to survive. The fucked up company has just 3 employees: the trio of morons!

    The moral of the story is:
    You need to have the proper qualifications.

    I could just go to management and say "fuck you". I knew I could start another job one week later. Very comfortable.
  • by khendron (225184) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:48AM (#6170976) Homepage
    I've been there and done that twice in my career. The circumstances were slightly different. The companies were not in deep doo-doo, but there was a well defined lack of respect towards the development team/department.

    In neither case was the mass exodus (ME) planned, in the sitting around and plotting sense. It just happened. In both cases, the ME was preceded by a spontaneous, manager-led, group bitch session, where all the disgruntled employees got together and described what was unsatisfactory about their jobs. The complaints were summarized and sent up the ladder. If your place of employment has reached the spontaneous bitch session stage, expect a ME to follow.

    Here are some interesting results from the MEs I have experienced.

    • In both cases, I found immediate re-employment.
    • In the first ME (in which a full one-quarter of the company's employees jumped ship), a number of the ex-employees (myself not included) formed their own competing company, and promptly got sued by the old employer. Today, almost a decade later, the case is still before the courts. I expect the eventual loser will be forced out of business.
    • Stupid legal actions aside (see previous point), in neither case was the company that was a victim of the ME mortally wounded. Each has recovered nicely.
    • In the first ME, many employees in the affected department that showed loyalty and did not quit were fired within a year.
    • In the second ME, many employees in the affected department that showed loyalty and did not quit were offered enormous raises.
    • I do not regret leaving either company.
    • If you leave a company in an ME, expect to never be welcome back to that company as an employee ever again. This can have unforseen side-effects. In the second ME there was an employee who left the company close to the same time who were not really part of the ME. However he was *perceived* to be part of the ME, and when he tried to return to the company a couple of years later he was told he was not welcome.
  • exit with grace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asr_man (620632) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:49AM (#6170985)

    What's the first few questions you'll be asked at your next job interview?

    Why are you looking for a job?

    Why did you leave your previous job?

    Would your former employer rehire you?

    Make sure the way you exit provides the best possible answers to these questions. You'll regret it if not.

    When I was in a similar situation, I got the next job first and then I wrote two resignation letters: the one wanted to send, which is still fun to read, and the cordial one I did send. The object is not so much to avoid burning bridges but to let them stew in the regret of not to being able to hold on to such a desirable employee. Flip the bird on the way out and it'll only give you more trouble later.

  • Blackball (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tmark (230091) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @10:59AM (#6171091)
    If you do organize a mass walkout, which screws the rest of the company like you think it will, prepare for the likelihood that anyone who knows or hears anything about the incident - including your managers, people who know your managers, your co-workers, your friends, and even your collegaues who walk out with you - will remember that you were all sh*t disturbers who acted and colluded in a particular way to screw your company when things got tough. The world is smaller than you think.

    It would take me about 1 second to decide toss a resume of a guy in your situation who did what you plan to. Nobody needs agitators, least of all a company in somewhat dire straits.

    If things are so bad, quit, by yourself. If things are bad for others, they'll probably quit too. But getting others involved in an organized fashion for the explicit purpose of making it tough for the company is unprofessional and will rightly brand you as a trouble maker.
  • by tmoertel (38456) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:10AM (#6171275) Homepage Journal
    My advice? Be professional.

    That doesn't mean you must work overtime in terrible conditions for poor pay. But it does mean, if you decide to take your employment elsewhere, that you leave the company like a professional.

    Treat your reputation like a valuable possession -- because it is.

    You get together with the rest of the department for a 'fsck this company' meeting and decide to walk out.
    Sorry, but walking out is a "screw-your-employer" gesture. It's about as unprofessional as you can get and, even worse, makes you look vindictive. Is that really the impression you want to leave? Do you really want to trade a good piece of your reputation for a few fleeting moments of take-this-job-and-shove-it jubilation?

    Be professional. Give two weeks notice.

    Like most people, you are probably under an "at will" employment agreement that gives you the right to walk out whenever you please. Don't do it. Give the two weeks, which is universally considered reasonable and comes at no cost to your good reputation.

    If you do resign, tender your resignation in writing. Make it simple, polite, and direct -- professional. Something like, "I am writing to inform you of my resignation, effective on date ." That's all you need. Do not include a grand, barbed explanation of why you're leaving, which is especially tempting when you feel that your employer has wronged you.

    When your employer receives a stack of resignation letters on the same day, they'll get the point. No need for you to draw circles around it or point to it with big red arrows.

    Remember: When you leave, do so in a way that makes it clear to your employer that they are losing somebody valuable. Be professional.

  • Self Delusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smack.addict (116174) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:27AM (#6171565)
    Technologists are particularly prone to the delusion that the company cannot run without them. In truth, everyone in an organization is expendable. If you are not expendable, that really means you are doing a bad job and they are probably better off in the long term without you anyways.

    If you are unhappy where you work, execute a job search and leave when you have another job. In the mean time, work with your bosses to see if you cannot improve the situation. If you do work with them and improve it, you will be happy AND you will be more important. If it does not improve, at least you have ammunition when you are asked what steps you took before deciding to leave at an interview.

    Under no circumstances should you talk about leaving or hint that you are actively seeking another job. Their first hint should be your 2 weeks notice. Even if you think you are being nice, you really risk only creating suspicion.

  • Crapshoot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kiaser Zohsay (20134) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @11:38AM (#6171733)
    I missed a similar situation by mere weeks. I left the company for a better job offer, but I was privy to the scheme before I left.

    Weeks later, three core people left, started their own consulting firm, and contracted with the employer to do their old jobs on a consulting basis! They somehow sold managment on the idea that it would be cheaper for the company to pay them as consultants than the pay them as employees. The consulting business has blossomed with new clients, and the old employer is in a well-publicized chapter 11.

    These guys won, and are still doing well, but this started in late 1998-early 1999 at the height of the bubble. They managed to create solid customer releationships that they have built a solid business on.

    Look before you leap, and make sure you know where you are going to land.
  • by yabHuj (10782) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:14PM (#6172189) Homepage
    Been there, didn't do that.

    While reducing staff projects upon projects were piled at a big5 company I worked for. At one point we had to say "Stop".

    Did not walk out.

    We compiled a list of ToDo's, went to our superior (okay, our superior's superior) and told him to give all these Priority-A-1-Alpha projects unique numbers. He has the big picture - or is at least paid to make decisions. So he decides. Not us.

    He tried to argue (you must know - you're the techies), even actually tried to walk away. We said: okay, then we'll assume you hand us a blanko cheque okay to priorize. We'll then have this (interesting, but only moderately urgent) project with top priority (which still was sensible/okay but not the most urgent one) and continue down the list after finnishing.

    No! He cried. Other projects...! We handed him the list again: Here. Numbers. Nonrepeating. You decide - or we have to. You know our suggestion. Decision still is your responsibility (i.e. your neck). So he told uns a preliminary No.1 - and followed up with a clean priority list.

    With this we were able to work without overtime. Just worked 40(+epsilon) hours a week, and had priorities to fend off requests for "just a bit more" work (More work on your project? Then talk about priorities with Mr.X).

    As for "a bit more overtime" - overtime and crunch mode only works for very limited ammounts of time (common knowledge is max. 2 weeks). After that stress-induced errors and illness have a very offsetting effect. If you're more stress-resistant that the remainder of your team, just fall back to the average to take speed and pressure out of the system. Noone can prove wether you really cannot find the one proper file among all the garbage crunch-mode-produced yestarday. It's very hard to differenciate between real symptomes of stress-induced illness or faked ones.

    It even is a great opportunity to you, your team and even the company to introduce a task delegation and priorizing system - or other ones to steer projects and processes (e.g. change control procedures). Just to make sure, the really important business cases are handled properly and quality-assured, of course... ;-)

    Escalation:

    If the problem is your direct superior (S1), walk to his superior (S2). Or to his superior's superior (S3). If he understands the problem - fine. If not, start bouncing the problems back to them. They have to decide on priorities: "Which one - A or B - decide NOW!" - where the NOW is important as the project is important and must be complete NOW (so it's not your NOW, but his or the customer's one). You even can use it to jump levels (beyond/around S1 to S2) - simply have your colleague do the same talk with S1 simultaneously - so you can't reach him for decision and so you went to S2 because of the project's utter importance. If the answers contradict, go back to S2+S1 and tell that S1 (or S2) just ordered you otherwise (sorry for the overlap - it's just due to the hectic...), and you want a confirmation.

    Simply bounce the pressure back. They have to slice the work into managable chunks - that's what managers are for. Just bounce it back for re-assignment. Because you want to see the project done, too (of course) and see THIS (chunk) will not be working (or contradicting with other stuff).

    So get priorization and escalate, i.e. bounce irresponsible pressure, untaken responsibilities and not done decisions back to from where they come and where they belong. All for the sake of professional work and successful projects, of course (*NO* irony here).

    This can even enhance your own position, especially if you give your superiors good (priority) suggestions and decision reationales. And suddenly you're not only programmer or admin, but on the track to project manager...

    Qapla'!
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @12:21PM (#6172259)
    First, walkouts are for pussies. If you walk out, understand that your job is 99% over. Your mission at this point is to get revenge on your boss. If you are let back in, it will only be until your ass can be replaced. So, decide that if you are going, go.

    Now, here is the hard part.

    Say NOTHING.

    No contact, period.

    Just leave, dont look back, accept no messages, open no mail, just send it back unopened. If your entire crew does that, you can insure that your former boss is toast. One thing that people do naturally is talk too much. Silence is power.

    If you keep quiet, the HR department will be ORDERED to find out what happened. Meanwhile your group picks a single person who is NOT an employee to do all the talking for your side. If you let multiple people talk, they will turn your words against you. It also prevents you from being served with a lawsuit notice.

    That person meets with HR off the premises alone, and gives them a single list of complains attributed to the group, without specifying individuals. HR will demand to speak to employees before anything happens. Resist and let them replace you if nessesary. Do NOT allow anyone from your group to speak with them for any reason, no matter how trivial.

    The frustration will be directed at your Boss who is still there. Their ability to manage people will be questioned. There could be no other conclusion, due to your extreme position in not speaking with them. Your company will start looking for your boss' replacement while he is looking for yours.

    You may never get your jobs back, but you can insure that the pain you cause your company will cause your boss to lose his job too. You need to decide just how far you are willing to take this. If you are just pissed off, you will get no satisfaction. If you are committed, you might be able to inact some sort of revenge on your former boss.

    Look around at your group. If you have any pussies in it, forget the above and get back to work; you fucking slacker, you.

  • by Doctor Hu (628508) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @01:39PM (#6173163)
    Unsurprisingly, given the question, there's a lot of noise even at +4. So, a few basic suggestions:
    1. If you haven't yet done so, read your terms and conditions of employment, including the small print. Pay especial attention to procedures laid down for handling employee grievances, and disciplinary issues, and over what activities may constitute grounds for disciplinary actions.
    2. Give your local managers the chance to recognise that they have a problem and to make a sincere attempt to resolve it before moving to the grievance stage.
    3. Keep a written record of these discussions - make a summary at the end of meetings and indicate to the people you're talking with what you consider were the important points and what you understand to have been agreed (or not) on each side.
    4. Don't indulge in wishful thinking on a matter as important as this. As others have already noted, it's easy to believe that you're more vital to the enterprise than you actually are, and there's the unpleasant possibility that even if everyone who's unhappy acts responsibly you'll still be identified as trouble-makers and find yourselves looking for other work. I'm not saying that you should wimp out and let yourselves be shafted because of the current state of the job market, only that you are realistic about the situation.
    Good luck, anyway.
  • by buckhead_buddy (186384) on Wednesday June 11, 2003 @02:01PM (#6173412)
    I've had problems with my job working for a large company that's well known locally. I was seriously thinking of jumping ship, writing a scathing manifesto of the problems in my position and with my supervisors, and then looking for employ elsewhere. But since I don't have a job lined up to go into, I needed to get my finances in order to make such a leap.

    I'm not good at saving and since my ex got the house in our breakup I don't have equity in much of anything that doesn't rapidly depreciate (car/computers).

    I take at least 10% of my post-tax net pay and consider that off-limits. It goes immediately into long term retirement savings. This is above and beyond my 401K contributions. If I'm out of work I won't be contributing to long term savings so this is to fill that hole, but I found I had to take this out of my pocket first or I just couldn't learn to save it.

    I cut my monthly expenses (rent, internet access, etc) from 40% to 30% of my net pay. No cable. One phone line. Do without heat or AC except in emergencies. The 10% saved went into paying off my credit cards and now goes into unplanned expenses. This also helps me become less dependent on those nice but unnecessary comforts so I won't miss them when I must cut to the bone.

    I've started really being a tightwad about daily and spontaneous expenditures. This was where my biggest waste was. I now allocate only 10% of my net pay to food, gas, and these day to day consumables. If I have money left from this, I allow myself use it on computer books, dining out, and other spur of the moment luxuries. It makes it a very powerful incentive to save, but it was the hardest to get used to.

    25% of my net goes to unplanned expenses. Car repair. Unplanned doctor visits. Rent and insurance price hikes. Stuff like that. This isn't to be used spontaneously, but it's not realistic for me to consider it "savings". Things will and have come up that have wiped out this pot of money and then some. But once or twice the pot has grown to more than $2K at which point I funnel the excess into savings.

    The final 25% goes one of three places:
    1. A kitty to pay expenses for eight months.
    2. A pre-planned large purchase.
    3. Long term savings.

    The eight month expense kitty is a must have even if I wasn't considering quitting. I might get fired or laid off tomorrow so this is the biggest need.
    The pre-planned large purchase is for something I need like a new car downpayment, a necessary computer upgrade, a training class, or a big birthday present for my dad's birthday. I keep it to one goal at a time and I know how much I need to save beforehand. It helps keep from getting carried away because I have $X burning a hole in my pocket.
    Finally, if I have a full kitty and no preplanned item to buy on the horizon, I put the money into long term savings and don't think about it again.

    It has taken me over a year to get disciplined enough to follow this method. There have been some suprises that have wiped out my plans. It's been really eye-opening to do this while I have regular income coming in. It's certainly not going to happen when I don't.

    Finally, a couple of other things I've found are good to check out:
    1. IRS filings. I paid someone to look over my returns for the past three years which I had self-filed. Good thing I did.
    2. Credit rating and fico score. I was suprised that mine wasn't quite as pristine as I expected it to be (and VERY suprised at who had requested it)
    3. Medical and dental health. Make sure that your in good shape because these expenses and health insurance will be much more expensive if not part of a company plan.

    It's been more than a year to get in financial shape, but having not found a better job in the meantime I'm glad that I've been setting this money aside. Come my next paycheck I should have enough financial cushion to say goodbye if I want to.

    One thing I decided to do though: Don't burn my bridges. I'm not going to write a goodbye manifesto to embarass

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