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Dealing with 21'st century slave labor

I got laid off last year from a company that no longer exists, and was out of work for 5 months.  I've never been out of work my entire life for over a month, that was a hell of a shock.  Turned out I got a job at 25% less salary, with no stock options, worse benefits, etc.  Since I started I've worked a minimum of 50 hours a week for these guys, with nothing coming back except a "thanks".  No money, no days off, no promotion, no office, not even a decent effing chair that doesn't wipe my back out.  Nothing.

In march they fired a guy, and put me on his project.  Took me about 2 weeks to figure out they fired this guy because he told them the truth, it wasn't gonna be done when they wanted it.  Just wasn't gonna happen.  I told them that, and was told "I don't care what it takes, 12 hours a day, nights and weekends, it has to be done".  So I'm doing 60 hour weeks, and it ain't gonna get done by the deadline.  Not to mention I'm cranking out crap.  This stuff was not designed, is not maintanable, it has no unit tests, it will not scale, and I doubt it's efficient.  My boss has no idea the true state of this mess, she thinks by mid-July it will be done.  By mid-July she won't have crap, I've been lying to her about my progress for a month now.  Why lie?  Because when I tried to tell the truth, I felt I was a hair from being fired on the spot.  I need my job.

I'm tired.  I want to quit.  I also got a wife, a mortgage, and a kid.  I've been tracking the job boards since I started, and have been asking friends about jobs.  Nada.  There ain't squat out there.

For the record, I'm almost 40 years old.  My expertise is talking to hardware.  I can do RTOS, Linux and NDIS drivers.  I know Perl.  I know Python.  I can handle any RTOS you throw at me, from pSos to VRTX to Linux.  I've done mySql, but I'm not a wiz at it.  I've written to hardware from ethernet device drivers, to MPEG decoders, to PCI bridge chips, to all sorts of custom hardware.  I'm good at what I do.

So what should I do?  I just got home from a 12 hour day, I'm tired, I can't find any job listings that match my skills at any salary.  The rubber meets the road on July 18, but I suspect they'll know they have nothing a week before that (it's supposed to hit QA 7/11).

Sorry to whine, I'm just feeling sorry for myself.  I'm gonna be out of work soon, and don't like the feeling.  I feel like I'm screwing some good people (the QA people, all of whom got hired after me),

So, ahhh, to climb out of the self-pity pit.  What would you do in my spot?  Try and give the boss a head's up and risk getting fired?  Try and give QA a heads up and risk they tell the boss, see above?  Or keep my mouth shut, not deliver, and get fired?  Or cross my fingers and hope for a miracle?

To make things worse, out of the 14 of us who got canned last July, only 6 of us ever got jobs.  The rest are doing whatever they can to survive.

Poor, poor me
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Become a consultant for RTOS development.  No really.  Start writing articles, etc..put up a web site ala JoS for RTOS minded people.  It's just a thought.  Yeah, it's hard work, but at this point, stop working 12 hours at the office since it won't do you any good (you're not hourly and you won't finish in time) and spend the "extra" 4 hours looking for contract work...writing articles, etc.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The work environment you describe is probably more closer to the norm than most people care to admit. I assume you are currently working for a small sized company?

Personally, I would have told the truth about the status of the project and tried to get by on unemployment insurance. There doesn't seem to be much you can do now except keep your mouth shut and hope that your boss is the one that gets fired rather than you.

Lets us know how things eventually turn out for you.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"There doesn't seem to be much you can do now except keep your mouth shut and hope that your boss is the one that gets fired rather than you."

thats got my vote a well.....you've taken the job and so now you have basically 2 options....keep going and dont complain or quit.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What part of the country are you in?  Some aerospace and defense companies in Southern California are on a hiring binge now.  Even better if you have or had clearance.

pcglue
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A few thoughts.

Besides the current rough state of the economy and the dive that tech has taken, there have always been two persistent problems with this industry.


1) an infantile mentality of many in this field that they're "paid to play", which instantly and irrevocably devalues their work in the eyes of *all* money, management and executive people.  Posturing like you're "playing" when you're being paid to provide value has always seemed infantile to me.  It has to appear truly idiotic to anyone who is waiting for a result.


2) a naive attitude in this industry that these are, must, and shall always be, "THE GOOD" jobs, which keeps certain naive, codependent people slogging away and feeding the rapacious appetite of companies for zero incremental costs. These jobs actually become *pure abusive shit*, once you're past the age at which you're cheap, politically desirable and non-subversive. A truck driver can make better hourly money than many technology roles pay, when forced overtime is factored in.

'F' the man, and I literally mean that. Consider consulting. Based upon your background, you would be well suited to the consulting lifestyle - you have many skills  and seem to exhibit versatility - Perl to embedded - whereas most FTEs only know one narrow slice of the whole pie and keep the horse blinders on so they don't threaten anyone. And I don't mean the crap "consulting" where you work as an indentured, humiliated serf to some pompous bimbo-filled marketing driven "preferred vendor" bodyshop like a Computer Horizons, etc. I mean the sort of expert, non commodity work where you find specific closed ended projects with small companies that don't need an FTE in the position. These are the value added roles that the big money @$$hole laden recruiter-centric bodyshops know absolutely nothing about.

The post above about "becoming" the JOS of embedded has great merit. To consult at an expert level, you need marketing collateral, which in the case of consultants means personalized but professional writings, and a weblog can fulfill that role.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Don't Quit, let them fire you, at the least you get paid for those days.

Spend all those 12 hours at work thinking about what you wanna do?

Giorgio & bored have given you good advice. IF you are going the Contract/ Consulting route - start your own corp.

All the Luck, and hang in there.

Prakash S
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It's a very difficult moral conundrum you find yourself in.  Do you do the "right" thing by not lying, by telling it as you see it, and not caring about the consequences -- or do you do what you have to do to survive, to provide for your wife and family?

Sorry, man, no easy answers here.  I'm just a young kid trying to make it through this world myself.  I really don't know what I would do if I were in your position.

Alyosha`
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Programmers are starting to wake up to the fact that they can be an exploited profession. Not always, but often enough.

If the task they have given you is impossible, and they refuse to listen to you, then start building complications in the code so you will be indispensable when the proberbial hits the fan.

Most other roles in business work this way. It's called looking out for number one, and is admired when performed by corporate executives, lawyers and others.

.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I largely agree with Bored.

However, you need a short sharp attitude adjustment.

Why do you give a F about what you told them versus what is reality? You just tell them whatever you need to tell them.

Work diligently, apply yourself, try.

But don't sweat it, milk it.

Realist
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Been there.

You have my complete sympathy. Since I became a contractor 2.5 years ago (great timing, eh?), I've realised a couple of things.

1) Companies exist to make money for their shareholders.

That's obvious really. You probably knew that already. But if you think about it, it does explain why some people behave the way they do. Your boss’ brief is extract as much work as possible for as little outlay as possible – I’m talking generally here; the July deliverable is a different issue. She is really helped by the fact that you have rolled over and done tricks without even being asked. Imagine how much more you’ll deliver when threatened. In companies like yours, if more profit can be made by abusing people, they’ll do it. They have no long term interest in you. You’ll find this gets much worse if the company’s existence is threatened or – worse – they go for a floatation.

2) People like you have a victim mentality.

You said it yourself. That’s not you, though. It’s me, us, all of us. Most IT people go through a phase of having this unwavering loyalty to their company, no matter how badly they are treated. Obviously, that’s a sweeping generalization. Everybody has a different breaking point.

Years ago I used to work with a guy who would arrive at 08:58 and leave at 17:30, 17:33 at the latest. Sometimes the traffic was kind to him and he’d get in at 08:40 or so, then spend the time reading a newspaper in his car. I used to wonder what planet he came from. Planet ‘HR’ or ‘Accounts’ or something.

Now I understand. I don’t do this myself, but I understand it. If you give them your time, they will take it. They will take anything you give them and like all ‘free’ things it’s worth what they have paid for it.

What this guy knew and I didn’t was that his time was worth more to them if given when requested and that if you stop giving something that is free you’ll be dumped on. Think about it. People who refuse to work an additional unpaid weekend, having already done 3 unpaid are treated like someone who steals equipment or takes 2 hour lunch every day. How many times have you left the office at e.g. 18:30 and to put up with “part-timer” jokes.


3) They don’t own you, they rent your time.

You have a contract with this company. Something I realised from contracting is that an employment contract is just like any other contract [1]. It is an agreement between 2 parties. Read your contract BEFORE you sign it. Don’t sign anything you are not happy with. If the contract says “will work additional unpaid hours, as required”, then that’s what it means. If you sign this, they’ll “require” those hours at some point. Some companies, like yours, find that their requirements steadily increase over time. If the contract says “will work additional unpaid hours, as reasonably required” – that means something else (legally).

I could go on; there are probably other points, but I’m running out of time :)

I realize that these observations don’t help your current position, but they might in future, or maybe will help someone else.

Re: July deliverable (speculation):
Your boss has probably been told deliver this by August or else you’re fired. Her boss has probably been told deliver this by 30/08 or the company goes under. The lack of communication means that you’re working like a dog and it won’t make any difference.

I think you have several choices, 2 of which are:

1) Ask for a meeting with your boss to find out why the specific date is so important. Give an accurate status update. You may well get fired for having previously lied, but this would happen in 6 weeks anyway. Make sure an independent, neutral 3rd party is present.

2) Ask for a meeting with your boss to find out why the specific date is so important. Give an INaccurate status update. Continue lying, to buy time while job hunting. Do only the work that gives visible results. Hey, they’re already screwed and you’ll get fired in late July anyway?

It all depends on *why* the delivery date is critical.

Option 2 Is a tall order. It’s not advice, as such, as I would never contemplate doing this myself. I merely mention it is an option. This is basically what Realist is telling you to do( again it is probably being presented as an available option).


[1] Not strictly true. For a start, the tax people treat them differently.

Justin
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"The post above about "becoming" the JOS of embedded has great merit."

You guys are saying this as if it would be an easy thing. It takes a hell of a lott more than just putting up some asp pages, writing a few articles and answering some questions to get a thing like this rolling.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Make a record of every conversation, or use e-mail to create a paper trail. If they sack you for not achieving the impossible then that is unfair dismissal.

As it is, if you left now, in the UK at least, you could claim 'constructive dismissal'. You are being forced out of your job by unreasonable demands. Your predecessor made them aware, to an extent you have, so most courts are going to see your side.

The law is on your side...

Pete J
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Welcome to the world of tech companies controlled by nontechnical people.  I bet your bosses leave after 8-9 hours a day since they can get al their work done.  I feel for you.  I was in the same situation a year ago.  I left after 5 months and many unhappy nights coming home.  Just hang in there.  Things will get better.  I always keep this in mind -- "Without the bad times we cannot know how good the good times are."

Chris Woodruff
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I feel like another nail in the coffin.  Roy's words of wisdom cannot outpace some of the excellent posts here.  But, here I go anyway...

You told them the project cannot be done on time.  Don't over tell it.  If you have a record you said it could not be done (even if it is a note on your calendar when you said it), consider it closed.

2 - Leave after "X" hours.  Where "X" is the number you set.    If you work 9 hours and someone asks where you are going?  "I am going to think." for effect you can mumble at the end. When you get home, spend the hours refining your resume, looking for jobs, making contacts, cold calling, and speaking to recruiters and pimps [a US term for contractor managers].  (Don't sign any agreements, just talk)

3 - How much risk can you afford?  You mention a wife, mortgage, and children. These are risk items.  ZERO is how much you make for quiting.  You should not quit without a solid exit plan.  However, you can remove the stress by just smiling when people come to you.  You are leaving anyway, don't let it stress you out.

4 - Justin was correct in that developers tend to have a victim mentality.  Base decisions on a benefit analysis, with a real feeling for "will they really fire you if you refuse to empty the trash too"    Also, they tend to quit rather than address the problem.  Your PHB a problem, so bad you will quit, then go into his boss and explain in CALM, rational terms the issues and what actions you need from him.  If you end up fired is that worse than quitting?

And now to digress on US law, and other countries. You did not say where you were so I want to enlighten some of our non-US friends. 

IANAL, but I just went through this with an employer.  As an exempt/salaried employee you are at the whim of your employer. 

If they decide to require you to be on-call 24x365, you are. If they decide everyone on vacation must take a computer and cell phone, you have to. 
If a project needs you to work 20 hours days for seven months, get used to coming to work stinky. 

You are an "at will" employee.  You can be terminated for just about any reason, including failure to do the impossible and there is little if anything you can do about it. 

However, "at will" also means you can leave for any reason and at anytime.  You can go to lunch and never come back.  It is considered "fair" because you do not have to stay.  The thought being that a business will do good by you so you do not leave. 

If you are an employee and do not treat yourself like you are self-employed you will be treated like cattle.  Always be looking for something better, inside and out. It is easy to get comfortable and spend years complaining but not changing.

BigRoy
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It sounds like you're in a toxic environment with a no-win situation.  According to what you've said, you're in a culture where people have been fired for saying the "wrong" thing.  So if you speak up you are likely to be fired.  However, the project won't be delivered according to schedule.  And when it isn't, you are likely to be fired.

In an environment such as yours, the "normal" rules of behavior don't work.  Being responsible, good communication, doing things the right way, honesty, etc.  In that environment, your one and only job is to look out for Number One.  Here are a couple thoughts:

First, get creative about finding ways to give yourself more time.  Blame your (already-fired) predecessor for his "crappy code" that you have to fix/rewrite.  Invent some problem that will take time to solve.  Feign an illness or some other personal issue that requires you to stay home -- supposedly unable to work.  The trick is to find things that you cannot be blamed for and which are (or at least appear to be) non-negotiable.  Even the most unreasonable person will usually bow to the inevitable, eventually.  They may balk and try to "negotiate" their way out of it, but if you are firm and unyielding in your stance, they will eventually cave in.

Second, I suggest you work up an exit strategy.  I know it's not particularly inviting to think about things like selling your house, changing careers/jobs, reducing your standard of living, etc.  But if you have a plan in place, ready to execute if the worst happens, you can sleep a little easier at night.

Third, find ways to reduce your overtime.  (Maybe you can only do this after the project is delivered.)  Again, get creative here.

Finally, keep looking for a better place to work.  Eventually you'll find one.

The bottom line, the most important thing, is to remember that you do have choices and your job is to look for them even when it appears there are none.

Sympathetic
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What's occurred here is that your boss is not accepting responsibility for her work.

Instead, she's got you to accept that responsibility, even though you gain no benefits from it.

You should just work the hours that are reasonable, but always be happy and confident. Don't accept responsibility for things not being ready. That's her failure, not yours.

Also, people like your boss prey on employee fear, especially fear of being sacked. Act like you've got better prospects.

.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It's a trick. Many managers nowadays set up "Kobiashi Maru" situations just to see what you will do.

If you do it right, that big bonus is already yours!



:)

R C
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The situation sucks, yet there are ways to deal with it.

1) First, switch to 5x8 work schedule. Since it sounds like it will all be over for you in July anyway, there is no need to work more than the formal requirement. Use your time for constructive things!

2) Try to figure out what the deadline is about, just like the other poster said. There is little hope here though. It seems like they are not understanding people, so you'll be the scapegoat in whatever circumstances. Mentally rehearse such outcome so you do not care about it when it comes. And see 1)

3) If you do manage to get time extentions, negotiate small consessions one at a time. One week more, than two weeks, again one week, etc. Make it interesting for them :-) Consider each extra week a gift for you. They have their own pressures, and they will want to BELIEVE! If you play this right you may last additional few weeks. Regardless, see 1)

Please, drop in later and let us know how it is going.

Mr Curiousity
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

work 9-5. or 10-4:30.

get fired, don't quit.

clingy
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A few more things...

This thread has been very supportive of this guy's problem. Admirable that techies hang together for once.

>> "The post above about "becoming" the JOS of embedded has great merit."

>>You guys are saying this as if it would be an easy thing. It takes a hell of a lott more than just putting up some asp pages, writing a few articles and answering some questions to get a thing like this rolling.


Nah nah nah. I know this too. But most small businesses and consultants start by PRETENDING to be in business. Pretending... going through the motions, act times feeling idiotic, as thought you're all alone. At the start you have no clients and  little interest from others. But you consistently act in ways and do things that attract interest based upon your knowledge and core competency. At SOME point, your effort expended will converge with the interest of paying customers. If it doesn't it wasn't meant to be. If it does, then you're off and running.


On victim mentality and politics -

Part of the original poster's "problem"may be that he is appearing to be "too" competent, therefore a lightning rod for blame. I've lost a few jobs by acting this role. It does NOT pay. Appeareance of high competency attracts political pressure. EVERYONE HATES TECHIE SUPERMAN. DESPISES HIM. WANTS TO SEE HIM CRUMBLE AND FALL. Especially the talentless pieces of human excrement who set up situations like this in companies.


I have seen certain people finesse situations like this by playing the victim role to its logical conclusion and by continually setting lower and lower expectations for their performance. IE, the company acts like it owns you...  like you cannot have self determination... well, you can't do the work because you're blocked by X, Y and Z. After all, they own you so you have no self determination. The goal is to elicit sympathy by appearing to have outside forces or built in problems in your way. 

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I am surprised that no one has mentioned the classic software scheduling trade-offs of time/features/money.

Ask your boss why the July 18 date is so important. Have her prioritize the feature list. Drop some less important features to hit the date. If all the features are "equally important", then the date must be moved out.

If the features and date are both important, then your boss must fork over more money to hire additional developers. This solution does not always work.

As others have pointed out, it sounds like you are being groomed to be the scapegoat. Just like the last guy. Your boss is mostly to blame, but is she really going to admit that to HER boss? naw. It's these arrogant, no-nothing developers' fault..

runtime
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

OK, so this might sound obvious, but the first person you need to talk to is your wife. I have been in similar situations, and I have no doubt that your screwed work situation will be affecting your home life.

So you need an exit strategy. What are your savings, how hard are you tied to where you are now, could yuo work away from home for a while? What about changing career completely?

If your wife also works, then whatever happens you will have a continued income stream even if you lose your job.

Also, you may not be as powerless as you think. If you point out to your boss that if you go (sacked/ quit) it will take someone else at least a month to pick up from you, before they can even start completing, you will have gained a month.

I hope everything goes well for you.

regards,

treefrog
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

>>work 9-5. or 10-4:30.

I wish .. our hours are 8:30-5:30 (8 hrs work + forced 1 hour of breaks during the day). Reaaaaly sucks. Is this just something about the States?

Back in Canada I know of very few companies that make you work more than 7.5 hrs + .5 hrs for lunch.

jedidjab
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I agree 100% with treefrog who said what i was thinking. You need to let your wife know what is coming down so she can prepare - let her know you are being set to take the fall and you need her help to downsize your lifestyle in preparation so you guys can make it through.

Look, most people don't know what is coming down and are caught unprepared. you have 6 weeks to get ready for the big earthquake, so to speak.

I also agree you should cut back to 9 to 5 so you have the time to get ready and the rest to do it clear-headed. They're going to dump on you, so no point sacrificing your own health and sanity for them.

If you can make a move to another job before d-day, you'll be better off too since people already employed have an ealier time getting hired.

Be Prepared or Be Lost!
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Although not always possible, do your best to get a good night's sleep in the meantime, regardless of what comes down.

It sounds like a confrontation (of one sort or another) will be coming soon - make sure you're well rested and sharp-witted.  I've found the GGF (General Grumpiness Factor) is much higher when I've had only a few hours of sleep.

Do what you can to take care of yourself first so you'll be better prepared for whatever it is that ends up happening.

Jeff MacDonald
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A person was about to be executed by the order of the king and a foreigner  with horse came.
King asked our guy,  what is his last wish? And he said, oh I just found the house which I can make flying.. King  said.. how much time it take.. : 1 year said the guy.  King said OK. but if you don't do it you will be hanged for sure after 1 year.

Guy goes home and wife asked how come you are back? Guy told the story. Wife asked, why you didn't ask for 5 years, 10 years..

Guy says.. why worry? , after 1 year anything may happen.    King may be killed, I may be killed even the horse could be killed.

Moral of the story.
Do the best, you can.. Draw outlines,  decide deliverables.. try to meet them.. and  deliver them..

One thing: They are facing business problems, not you..
You can help them by solving business problems... ex.. delivering less by the deadline, still able to survive the business relationship.

Easy
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Absolutely cut back to an 8 hour day. I don't believe a company can force you to work whatever hours they say. I'm sure of this in Europe and Canada; US I'm only partly sure. Here's some stuff to say when they complain.

1) Well rested people work better. I'm actually improving my productivity by going home.
2) The project isn't going to be finished by the deadline, so it doesn't matter how much I work.
3) Ask your boss how many hours they worked this week?

In Britain I'd be going to my trade union/professional organisation to get the legal lowdown. Try the ACM if you're a member?

David Clayworth
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"I wish .. our hours are 8:30-5:30 (8 hrs work + forced 1 hour of breaks during the day). Reaaaaly sucks. Is this just something about the States?"

Yes, it is something about the States.  US workers on average work more hours than workers in any other developed country, having surpassed even Japan.

T. Norman
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

runtime, no-one's mentioned time feature trade offs because the situation as described is pathological. Managers like this don't work things out logically.

She thinks she can get what she wants by pressuring the developer, who has unfortunately responded to that pressure in the way the manager wished. Unfortunately the manager doesn't understand the realities of development.

This pathology will play out in horrible ways. If the developer is a genius and works his guts out, succeeding in meeting the deadline, the manager won't even understand what's been achieved.

Also, she will get more funding for the next stage, or get a promotion or whatever. She will use that funding to hire more develoeprs and sack the hero developer for being difficult to work with and late in delivering.

The new developers will report that the previous developer's work was a mess, thus confirming the manager's assessment.

Alternatively, if the developer fails to meet the deadline, the manager will have fewer options, as she will at least understand that she can't get rid of the developer. In many ways, the developer's best protection in pathological situations like this is stay balanced and remain indispensable.

.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Poor me:
You were a complete IDIOT to lie about the status and plausibility of your project.  .  Now, someone else's problem has become YOURS.  If you NEVER owned it, you may have had a chance.    The fact that you upped your hours gives yet another false sense of possibility, and another act of taking ownership of this death march.    Ultimately, it will make YOU look like YOU failed.  If you refused to work more than 40 hours, b/c it was such a unrealistic deadline, you would have had more credibility.  Now, you just look incompetent.    Now, you've fucked youself, and frankly, you deserve it.  40 years old, you should know how to manage your career better. 

You're fucked, and your skills are too niche.  I hope you own a house that you can refinanance to float you through the next decade.


> 'F' the man, and I literally mean that.

Do you suggest he use a condom, in that case?

Everyone says "just go consult."  Wake up, idiots.    He can't even find a FT job.  He aint going to be finding a $100/hr contract.

Bella
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Bella,

You are speaking your mind but you are not in the least bit helpful. You are a psycho and a cheap troll.

I do not respect you. Your freedom of speech is pure blather and bombast - all you want to do is blame and tell people why they're f'd. Why don't you walk into nursing homes and pull catheters off of people for fun, or put out dishes of antifreeze for stray animals? It would suit your apparent character.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

"You were a complete IDIOT to lie about the status and plausibility of your project.  .  Now, someone else's problem has become YOURS.  If you NEVER owned it, you may have had a chance.    The fact that you upped your hours gives yet another false sense of possibility, and another act of taking ownership of this death march.    Ultimately, it will make YOU look like YOU failed."

Wow, what a statement!!!

Would you Bella care to clarify how do you exactly get out of a situation when you've basically been set up for a failure from the very beginning? This stuff is really revolutionary, please, do share it with the rest of us!

There did not seem to be that much choice in what Poor Me described, so, please, detail your hypothetical actions.

Mr Curiousity
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

yay. bella's back. I thought bella left the IT industry, like.. uh... 12 months ago?  when i retire , the last thing I want to do is hang around on software development forums.

that said. he's right. 40 years old, get it together! also RTOS is a tough skillset to sell. my advice for the dude is to hang on until he gets sacked, then collect employment whilst looking for some other non-tech work. programmerland isn't a good place to be 40+.

bone easy
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

In situations like this:

The programmer is hired as the scapegoat.


The management knows damn well that the task is impossible. They are in denial because they're generally golfing buddies and they get their rocks off on blaming underlings for their own deficiencies in planning.


The management will generally not decompose and prioritize subtasks of projects this far offtrack, because they know that the blame will then fall upon them for not allocating a proper level of resources.  My guess is that management will refuse all discussion because all roads figuratively lead to Rome.


The 'taking of ownership' in these circumstances is mandated. There is no way to refuse ownership of such a project. The programmer has NO choice except to agree to the most absurd feature inflation, quit, or be fired.

IE, the individual is generally pressured to accept full responsibility in such situations.

The original poster *should* talk to his wife and should determine his ability to survive whatever happens, in the worst case. I do agree that that is job #1. Family comes first, scumbag fly by night dirtball companies run by semi-satanic vermin come last.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Poor Me, tell them you're doing a correspondence masters course and a big assignment is due, which you have to complete.

This forces some issues into the open. No-one can legitimately expect you to work extra hours when you've got another important commitment.

So this either gives you an out to avoid the unwarranted and uncompensated pressure, or forces your manager to negotiate with you for to sacrifice your masters for the benefit of the company. You can ask for extra bonuses for this.

Don't tell them where you're enrolled.

Secondly, Bella's right. You have taken on someone else's responsibility. You need to get out from under that.

Third, Bored is also right in advocating you find external reasons outside your control. In sales, this is called the Absent Principal. You can't give your customer a cheaper price even though he's your best friend because your boss wouldn't agree to it. That's the absent principal.

A masters course is like an absent principal.

.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Whilst this advice is all good, I suspect it's a lot easier for everybody to speculate about what they'd do, than it will be for Poor Me to do it.

He's trapped in a situation where normal rules do not apply and the management have better manipulation and bargaining skills.

In my experience, management, sales and marketing people are much better at being able to manipulate people socially than techies. They've already managed to squeeze free overtime out of him without a blip, and can motivate him by fear of firing. Good results in their eyes, because they've discovered they can get him to do practically anything without fear of recrimination. I believe the technical term for this is "bullying".

It wouldn't surprise me if they even gave him a hard time for being off sick. "Off sick for a week? Where's your doctor's note then? Where are you're symptoms? I don't believe you'd been sick at all - you're fired!"

My advice would be to stand up for yourself. Remain calm when talking to management and make sure they explain everything in terms you feel comfortable with. "Do it by next week or you're fired" is _not_ a term you can probably relate to.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, June 26, 2003

My advice is expect the worst and prepare for it.

I see two scerarios, one bad, and one really bad.

A good thing to do when reviewing really bad situations is to look at the extremes, pick the most likelly event and prepare for it.

The Bad scenario: (High probability)
Keep your lies consistent, get fired, sell your home and move to a cheaper home. Get a job frying burgers.
Prepare yourself for this bad scenario and make sure your wife understands and is prepared.

The really bad scenario: (Low probability)
Admit to your lies, or get cought lying. Get fired and find yourself in legal conflict with your former employer. You will lose the legal battle and every penny you own. Perhaps even doing some time in prison.

Trying to solve your problem is like trying to broker a peace treaty between Hamas and Isreal. It Isn't gonna happen!

Joachim Hartmann
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"Whilst this advice is all good, I suspect it's a lot easier for everybody to speculate about what they'd do, than it will be for Poor Me to do it.

He's trapped in a situation where normal rules do not apply and the management have better manipulation and bargaining skills. "

===

And this is the belief that allows the victim attitude to continue to keep himself safely captive in his golden cage.

Joe AA
Thursday, June 26, 2003

> Would you Bella care to clarify how do you exactly get out of a situation when you've basically been set up for a failure from the very beginning?

He can't get out now.  He's painted himself into a corner.  If it's not going to get done on time, poorMe should go to mgmt and say that.  He was a fool to try to push off judegement day, and say it could be done,  b/c he needs the job, b/c now, he's going to look incompetent.  Better to be fired for sticking to your guns and saying they have an impossible deadline, rather than missing YOUR deadline.   

Yes, he needs to go to mgmt TODAY, and say there is no way its getting done, he was pressured into saying it would be done. so he worked OT and did his best, but no way, and he needs to emphasize that he INSISTED that it was imposible from day 1.  He needs to somehow push the blame OF him, if that is possible, ...b/c it truly is not his fault...Hopefully., they remember that.  but if they;re looking for scapegoats, which he stepped right up and volunteered for, then he's done for.  Next time., you do not touch this type of situation with a 10 foot pole, even if you get fired on the spot, b/c youll just be fired later anyways.  Better to leave on top.  Live and learn.


His bizarre niche skills will make his job search that much harder.  If you have a wife and kid and mortgage, ditch the open source rebel persona, suck up the rebal programmer ego, and learn VB or something.  Time to be a little more responsible for your family. 

Bella
Thursday, June 26, 2003

> Get fired and find yourself in legal conflict with your former employer. You will lose the legal battle and every penny you own. Perhaps even doing some time in prison.

Joachim, don't be silly. The developer has done nothing wrong. If anyone had anything to fear from legal challenge it would be the employer, but they don't.

.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I am one of 20+ Americans that were mandated to train our foreign replacement workers; in Lake Mary, FL.  Those workers are Tata Consulting(TCS) India employees.  TCS India transfers their employees from TCS India to TCS USA using the congressional H-1b and L-1 "intra-company transfer" work visas.  Their goal,  the jobs we did.    Once the training was completed the Americans were laid off.

Our management brought the Americans into a room and told them they would be laid off.  But first they said, "we want you to train your replacements".  They held out a carrot for the Americans, a severance;  "stay on and we'll give you this severance when you leave."

Now, Is this fair to American citizens?    Believe me, it is happening all over the country and our congressional leaders will not help us.  To name a few,  JP Morgan Tampa, Siemens Energy & Automotive Atlanta, American Express,  Siemens Shared Services Orlando.  In fact Siemens Shared Services used the "L-1" visa to replace their Accounts Payable staff with Indians from India.  It's not just the Information Technology industry that is targeted.

Over 9 months of begging and pleading for help from the likes of FL Senator Bob Graham(D),  FL Senator Bill Nelson(D) and FL Representative John L. Mica(R) have gotten us nowhere.

Tata Consulting India has done this so many times they have become complacent.  They put their entire replacement project documentation( 500MB/800 documents) on the shared drive at Siemens.  Among those documents are the "infamous" knowledge transition documents. 

That would be knowledge transfer from AMERICANS to Indians;  right here in Lake Mary, FL.  Those documents were provided to the DOJ, DOL, INS, Senators and Representatives.  Did they do anything?  Not a chance in hell.

I taught my 3 replacement workers how true middleware tools work.  We taught them how our web application utilizes IBM's MQ Series and Websphere MQ Integrator to communicate to/from SAP.  Middleware connectivity like this using queuing/XML, web services etc. is some of the latest technology available.  What I'm getting at is our displacement is not about replacing has-been COBOL programmers.  It is about replacing Americans with integral knowledge of start-of-the-art technology. 

I'm the luckiest of the ex-Siemens workers,  I located another job;  but that cannot be said about most of my ex-coworkers.  Many are still unemployed, some have spent 401K funds to survive.  One person changed careers. He is now doing landscaping after a 23 year career in IT.

I found documents on the server that listed the families of our replacement workers.  Some have children of school age.  So it is highly likely that the property taxes of the displaced/replaced American citizens will pay for the education of their replacements children.

Is this fair to American citizens?

We've spent the last 8 months dealing with the DOL, INS, DOJ, Senators and Congress Representatives.  No one will help American citizens.

This was the most demoralizing time of my life.  The worst part was not Siemens nor TCS, nor the Indians.  The worst part was the lack of support from our political leaders.

I'm not saying offshoring is wrong, but our own elected officials creating laws to put Americans out of work is wrong.  If Siemens wants to offshore work.  Send it on, go on get out of here.  But our own government should not create laws that allow corporations to import replacement workers, let corp management mandate their employees to train them then have the American citizens be thrown out on the street.

You can read more about our displacement at  http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/ 

You can read the Business Week article about the L-1 visa.  Since we took our displacement public we were able to get Brian Grow of BW to write about this awful congressional visa.  It was noted on the cover "Workplace - A troubling Immigration loophole"    http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/BusinessWeek/Business_Week.html    IMO, it is not a loophole.  It is a strategy of Congress to give back to the corporations that fund their campaigns.

Also, WKMG CBS Orlando did a 4 day report on the ill effects of these visa programs.  You can download the 4 day news report from my server at    http://www.hannatroup.com:81/wkmg/ 

You might be interested in reading how your Senator Hillary Clinton was praising the opening of Tata Consulting's new Buffalo office.  At the same time Americans are training their Tata Consultant employees/foreign replacement workers in Lake Mary, FL
http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/HillaryTCS.html
http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/TCSFears.html

Here are a few quotes from the news report (and from our replacement workers in Lake Mary, FL):
Steven Cooper WKMG Problem Solvers Investigative Reporter:
      "In my 15 years of investigative reporting very little gets my interest, but this story is fascinating"

Terri Spitz WKMG Problem Solvers Producer: 
      "We realize the magnitude of this story and we are doing everything we can to get our news report to the masses (even outside our market)."

Sunil Kumbhare, Tata Consulting Project Leader, an L-1 visa holder working in Lake Mary, FL:
      "We have to get our money before the Chinese do."

Amarpreet Singh and Swayambikash Panda Tata Consulting employees, L-1 visa holders from India:
      When asked if they were paying taxes the answer was "I don't know". Now, how do you not know if you are paying taxes?

I have now started my campaign for my new job.

Michael T. Emmons for Congress FL District 7 2004
Longwood, FL 32779
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/ 
usaworker@hannatroup.com

Michael T. Emmons
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I suggest you change it so that anyone can access http://www.outsourcecongress.org without needing to specify port 81.

Further, I see this odd website design style very often.  I'm beginning to suspect it works, even though it looks like a get-rich-quick scam.  I wonder if I just live in a different reality or something.

anon
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Widespread support of outsourcing jobs from America

support by YOUR Congress!

About 140 Congressional members that belong to the IndiaPAC
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/rep/indiapac/ 

http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/

Argh! My representative FL District 7 John L. Mica
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/mica/
  http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/mica/Mica_L1.html/
http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/Mica_Contributions.html

The scum of WA, Rep Jay Inslee
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/rep/inslee/

IL Rep Philip Crane
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/rep/crane/

NY Senator Hillary support Tata Consulting, the same company that is replacing American workers at Siemens FL, Eaton, Ohio,  Cutler-Hammer Pittsburgh,  JP Morgan Tampa and who knows where else
http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/HillaryTCS.html
http://www.hannatroup.com:81/USA/tata/TCSFears.html

IL Rep Mark Kirk
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/rep/kirk/

NY Rep Joseph Crowley
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/rep/crowley/

The DOJ letters that basically said we don't care about American workers; we got cheaper foreign ones
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/doj/

Michael T. Emmons
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I cannot use port 80 because my ISP blocks it for residential customer.  I could pay $300/month and get a business account or I could move it out of my house. 

I like my Linux box in my house, so I deal with the Port 81 issue.

BTW, it was Microsoft related viruses that forced them to block port 80 :(

Not sure what you mean by "get-rich quick sheme". 

There is no scheme here.  I'm here to inform America what our Congress is doing to Americans

http://www.hireAmericanCitizens.org
http://www.toraw.org
http://www.nomoreh1b.com
http://www.american-champions.org/
http://www.preferamerican.com/
http://naea.us/
http://www.americanreformation.org/ 
http://www.familyinjustice.com/h1b/
http://www.h1b.info/

Michael T. Emmons
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/ 

Michael T. Emmons
Thursday, June 26, 2003

No, I respect what you are doing, and the public gets to decide how businesses should operate in its country.  I just question whether it's good tactics to have a "loud" website.  Maybe it makes people respond better than a "professional-looking" one.  Mainly I'm just curious.  I just read this book Joel's always talking about:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1566091594/ref%3Dnosim/joelonsoftware/002-9177008-9710441

Also, hosting your website on someone else's server is pretty cheap, this site can advise: http://www.webhostingtalk.com/

In fact, I suspect you can easily find someone to do it for free, since many would be aligned with your cause.  That's it really, I definitely don't mean to rain on your parade or anything, just providing feedback.

anon
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Michael T.: perhaps you were intending to post this in the "PBS program, NOW with Bill Moyers " thread. As you want publicity you could mail it to Ron Hira, who started that thread.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, June 26, 2003

“Joachim, don't be silly. The developer has done nothing wrong. If anyone had anything to fear from legal challenge it would be the employer, but they don't”

Lying about the progress of the project to the boss is fraud.

You need legal advice!

Joachim Hartmann
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Joachim, no, it's not fraud. It's called bullying.

.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Poor Me:

1. See a doctor about stress. Get a medical certificate and take leave.

2. To resolve the situation, obtain the services of a workplace advocate to discuss the situation with your management. Do this by joining an appropriate union. Try www.washtech.org for advice.

.
Thursday, June 26, 2003

> Further, I see this odd website design style very often.

I was saddened intrigued by the entire post, enough to check out the site, and decided to close my browser before the whole page even loaded. That kind of presentation will never win over anyone but an already-raving lunatic.

Steven E. Harris
Thursday, June 26, 2003

IMO, people working on these huge corporate systems essentially do nothing of value anyway, and their asses should be outsourced to the cheapest laborer. if you want a job where you do nothing with union protection, join the fucking teamsters.

clam
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Regarding the outsourcing topic, I might mention that the reason the founding fathers believed a right to keep and bear arms necessary is to defend ourselves against out OWN government becoming a tyranny.

Lobbying will do nothing. The real solution is to start stocking up on long range, high accuracy sniper rifles and learning to hit your target with a single bullet.

Then prepare for the revolution and the march on Washington.

Don't worry folks, we'll get those jobs back for you.

Revolutionary
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I'm sorry to of upset a few here.  I should not of posted such a long dialog on the board.

I know, my web site is nothing to shout home about.  It has always been just my linux toy. 

After going through the awful experience of training our foreign replacement workers and our congressional members doing nothing about it I decided to join some of the grassroots people in fighting back at the greed of our Congress. 

These visa programs are nothing more than cheap labor programs for the corporations that fund their campaigns. 

Even the Honorable Colorado Rep Tom Tancredo said this; on the House Floor June 18, 2003.

Tancredo:

"I will tell my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, if that is the policy that our government is undertaking, then it is simply the policy we should tell our constituents about. We should explain it to them. When my colleagues get a letter like this, handwritten, three pages long, talking about what happened to them, how they were displaced by foreign workers, we should write back and say it is the policy of this government to displace you, to move you into a lower economic income category because we believe in cheap labor and we believe that the politics of open borders helps our party, in this case the Democrats, as I say. The Republicans, it is the cheap labor side of things."

FWIW, I don' t time to redesign.  I just vi HTML files.

Please accept my apology,

Mike
http://www.OutsourceCongress.org:81/

Michael T. Emmons
Thursday, June 26, 2003

The bitter laid-off anti-H1's have derailed this thread.  I willl repost in order to re-rail it:


> Would you Bella care to clarify how do you exactly get out of a situation when you've basically been set up for a failure from the very beginning?

He can't get out now.  He's painted himself into a corner.  If it's not going to get done on time, poorMe should go to mgmt and say that.  He was a fool to try to push off judegement day, and say it could be done,  b/c he needs the job, b/c now, he's going to look incompetent.  Better to be fired for sticking to your guns and saying they have an impossible deadline, rather than missing YOUR deadline.   

Yes, he needs to go to mgmt TODAY, and say there is no way its getting done, he was pressured into saying it would be done. so he worked OT and did his best, but no way, and he needs to emphasize that he INSISTED that it was imposible from day 1.  He needs to somehow push the blame OF him, if that is possible, ...b/c it truly is not his fault...Hopefully., they remember that.  but if they;re looking for scapegoats, which he stepped right up and volunteered for, then he's done for.  Next time., you do not touch this type of situation with a 10 foot pole, even if you get fired on the spot, b/c youll just be fired later anyways.  Better to leave on top.  Live and learn.


His bizarre niche skills will make his job search that much harder.  If you have a wife and kid and mortgage, ditch the open source rebel persona, suck up the rebal programmer ego, and learn VB or something.  Time to be a little more responsible for your family. 

Bella
Thursday, June 26, 2003

> One person changed careers. He is now doing landscaping after a 23 year career in IT.


Good for him.  The real money is in tax-free self-employed blue-collar work anyways.  I'm sure he's living a lot larger than he ever was.

Michael T. Emmons,
Boo F'ing Hoo for the US companies to try to control costs.  How dare they.

Bella
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Speaking of slave labor, with new legislation 8 million workers will soon lose their right to be paid for overtime:

http://money.cnn.com/2003/06/26/news/economy/epi/index.htm

T. Norman
Friday, June 27, 2003

I'm really sympathetic to this cause...but the only thing that i can say is.........
Come to India..

Can you???

There's a huge demand for experienced IT professionals in India..

the pay you get is majestic, compared to the cost of living in INDIA...

regds,
Nandita

nandita
Saturday, June 12, 2004

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