Why Do IT People Not Unionise?
I’ve seen this question come up a few times, so here’s my collection of reasons which makes sense to me:
Film has been around for a century, so those people have had plenty of time to unionise. Linux has only existed for 20 years, so ‘Linux sysadmins’ have only had 20 years of experience, and that’s an example of a group which might think of itself as a group in the minimal viable sense. This brings me to my next point:
Accountants and actors recognise each other as being inside the group which other people place them in, but IT people not so much. From outside, two ‘IT people’ both work on computers, but from inside, someone administering an AD forest sees about as much similarity and fraternity between himself and a php developer as with a book writer - all three are just ‘on the computer’ all day. In fact the AD administrator may well speak more with SEO people, and understand more of their job.
A recurring joke in IT is that someone asks them to develop an app, or even move a fridge, because people think of IT as a group of ‘machine stuff I don’t understand’.
Location, Location, Location
If a shoe factory has 200 workers, and 50 don’t show up, that factory is in serious trouble. If 80 don’t show up, the factory must close down. This works because one cannot simply fly-in more shoe factory workers at a moment’s notice.
Granted, IT people also cannot fly in at a moment’s notice, but they can be hired from anywhere. If the php devs in your city don’t want to work, you can hire some from India. IT has always been a naturally remote-working position, so the raw number of people you need to make a non-working agreement with is astronomical.
Big businesses can certainly afford to pay their IT people more - it’s not like any business can function without them. However, a good deal of IT people make bank, and (more importantly) a good number of them come from backgrounds where they didn’t expect to make much, but after learning to install their own drivers, they’ve ended up making more than they thought they ever could.
Despite all this, IT unions exist, so clearly it’s possible anywhere.