Friday, April 27, 2018

Anyone ever heard of pharma chemists demonstrating or organizing?

Via a New York Times article, an interesting comment:
Some tech workers are already starting to flex their muscles. Employees from large tech companies led an effort to oppose the travel ban announced by President Trump last year. And employees of Facebook, Google, Intel, Cisco and Stripe attended a demonstration at the headquarters of Palantir to protest the company’s development of surveillance technology for federal immigration enforcers. Just this month, more than 3,000 Google employees signed a letter objecting to the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that could use artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of drone strikes. 
But these are just warm-up skirmishes. For maximum impact, tech workers will need to scrutinize not just their employers’ government ties, but their products, business models, and basic standards. And they’ll need to do it in public.
I am going to guess that the vast majority of tech workers don't do much organizing or demonstrating, and it is unlikely for unionization to happen in Silicon Valley any time soon.

I wonder when it was likeliest for chemical and pharmaceutical companies to unionize, and why it didn't happen? Does anyone know?  

6 comments:

  1. When I arrived where I am (not pharma, but related), the employees were considering organizing but didn't (and had been considering it earlier); the early 90's were not a good time for my company (there was significant internal dissatisfaction, and people were concerned about our business status).

    The problem for pharma is that the 80's were a pretty good time, I think; the early 90's was when outsourcing started to rear its head, and trying to unionize when outsourcing is an alternative would probably be/would have been difficult. Maybe the 70's?

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  2. There was a letter from more than two hundred biotech and pharma executives protesting the travel ban after it was announced.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28267733

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  3. Would be nice to form a union for QC chemists. There are a lot of us and $14/hr out of college is not acceptable.

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    1. This is a product of well-meaning do-gooders pushing everyone into college. QC and lab technician jobs used to be a reward for a good plant floor employee, and $14 an hour would have been a raise for such a person. Today, technician jobs are mind-numbing drudgery for people with 4-year degrees who belong in real scientist jobs, and are probably more apt to make mistakes because they're bored silly. You're probably better off using your B.S. in chemistry to get some entry-level office job in a cubicle farm.

      Additionally, the guy on the plant floor is now stuck in a dead-end job with no future, when he once could have aspired to promotion to the QC lab. I've known some very good older chemists who started in non-professional positions, got promoted to lab technician, and then full scientist - a former secretary, a former security guard, and plenty of former plant workers. This path to advancement is pretty much gone now.

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    2. Probably not unheard of an ungrad with a BS in Chemistry becoming a security guard due to lack of good chem jobs....

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    3. KT, I worked at a CRO a few years ago and heard of a few QC guys who were previously pilot plant operators and eventually left for greener pastures at "bigger" industrial companies as scientists and maybe around 3-5 years ago. Perhaps it's few and far between, but has happened at least a few times in the past decade at one, smallish CRO.

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