Two years ago I went on a rant about how unions aren’t demanding as much as the public sometimes perceives they are. Now, after seeing the IT world of the Oregon University System (I’ve worked in two of the universities over the past three years), I have to say the union pay structure is indeed crap, even with the benefits.
We’ve been trying to hire a developer and Drupal admin for nearly a year now and after four search postings, and over a dozen candidates, I have concluded our pay is just garbage. An AP2 (“Analyst Programmer 2” – think of a typical software engineer; not a senior developer, but not a junior dev either) starts at about $45,000 a year here. Assuming my prior benefits computations are moderately accurate, that works out to a total compensation package of something like $90k a year, assuming they don’t keep gutting our benefits.
A startup in Baltimore is offering $20 an hour to interns to learn Ruby programming. I don’t know if interns get any benefits, but the fact is we’re competing with companies like this, and we absolutely will not win this game. Yes, we have great benefits, but when an intern’s base pay just about matches our mid-level developer’s pay (and exceeds our Junior developer’s pay by a good amount), it’s easy to see why the universities have such a difficult time hiring and holding onto good IT people.
If we end up striking this time around, I’ll be with the union. It may be that many jobs are over-paid, I really don’t know… but the IT jobs are grossly underpaid, and it’s killing our ability to hire people and generally just get shit done.