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    So. How's the job going?
    To be honest, I'm not sure if I still work there.

    Really?
    Yeah. I'll find out on Monday.

    Well, do you want to still work there?
    Not at all.

    Then, why do you?
    Heightened sense of responsibility. My project isn't done yet, and replacing me would be an ugly setback.

    And, what happens on Monday?
    Well, it's more what happened on Friday. We were all handed a lengthy contract, and told to review and sign it by the end of the workday as a condition of our continued emloyment. But, this thing is chock full of problems, and presents an inequitable arrangement I would never agree to in a million years. It'd never hold up in court, but that's beside the point. You can't sign your name to things you disagree with. (To do so robs your word of all power - it's a simple loss of integrity. We as individuals must know without hesitation that when we say we're going to do something, it will happen. There's no room for compromise on that - if you can't trust your own word, it's over. You'll never make a difference.) So, I took it home to review with my lawyer, which I'm sure will have the boss punching holes in the wall all weekend. And, we drafted a new version, reducing it to just the parts I'm willing to live with.

    You don't think they'll accept this compromise?
    Not a chance.

    Then, why did you bother?
    Because what happens next is still their decision.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
speedball
Jun. 14th, 2003 09:33 pm (UTC)
I'm curious to find out what portions of the contract were unacceptable...

Kurt
self
Jun. 15th, 2003 02:53 am (UTC)
standard issue soul transfer agreement
I have to keep this fairly vague, only discussing parts I've seen other companies use, and rewording the text so as to not violate copyright. Even with those precautions, it's dangerous to post this...

    The title says that this agreement is about nondisclosure and employee confidentiality, but a good third of the contract deals with turning all imaginable rights over to the company, including power of attourney over any patentable inventions I might come up with in the year subsequent to my leaving.

    I am to report any code innovations I've made which they might be able to hold over other programmers, and assist the company in filing for patents and copyrights in every applicable country. I would agree to testify in court whenever it may prove necessary to enforce these rights. In short, I'd agree to actively participate in the stifling of innovation throughout the world.

    I have one page in which to list off any unpatented innovations of mine that I came up with prior to working there, and my signature testifies that these are the only patentable inventions I have any right to. Of course, every line on that list is something they could then turn around and file themselves, and if it looks profitable, there's no earthly reason why they wouldn't do exactly that.

    Oh, and I'm not allowed to have any trade secrets of my own. If I pick up any new techniques, say in an outside class that I pay for without their assistance, this agreement says I will immediately document these techniques for the company to exploit.

    They're looking to be the Borg.
Now, contracts like this are growing more and more common. I acknowledge that. Heck, I've turned down better paying dream-jobs to avoid signing one. But, if I'm not willing to bite the bullet for those companies, I'm sure as hell not going to do so for this one.

I mean, I'd have no problem with them demanding a new employee agree to these terms before they start work. But I didn't, and I wouldn't have, and they don't get to change the rules midstream without at least consulting with me first to see how violently I'd react.

And the "Sign this. Today. Or else." tactic?

Not acceptable.
akatalin
Jun. 14th, 2003 09:59 pm (UTC)
umm
hope you win the lotto
self
Jun. 15th, 2003 02:54 am (UTC)
lotto
who can afford tickets?
akatalin
Jun. 17th, 2003 12:30 am (UTC)
Re: lotto
what is up with this ticket buying ....
you are just supose to randomly win .. none of this ticket ... geez have you been listening to my father about those ticket buyings?
self
Jun. 17th, 2003 07:15 am (UTC)
We don't need no stinkin' tickets.
Nope. Just familiar with the rules of participation, is all. And, y'know, basic economics.

They could make it so people just randomly win. But, then the money would come out of your taxes.

I kinda prefer voluntary participation, but that's mostly because I'm also familiar with the odds of winning.

=P
akatalin
Jun. 17th, 2003 06:10 pm (UTC)
of course not , raining money would be good too ..
I didn't say anything about everyone else having to go by the randomly winning the lotto .. now did I =p

I wouldn't mind my taxes going that way .. kind of like landing on free parking ....
20three
Jun. 15th, 2003 11:47 am (UTC)
I had to sign something like that in my first job - but I was very naive first thing out of college. But over time - the more creative property that I produce, and the knowledge that I acquire, it gets hard to know that it's not truly mine...when I work for a large corporation. The thing is, I sign these agreements in the beginning of the negotiation. None of this, "you already work for us but oh by the way, can you sign this saying that all of your thoughts are ours" - that's rough.

good luck - stay strong - your creative property is worth protecting...but sometimes the reality of needing a job overshadows that...
self
Jun. 15th, 2003 01:41 pm (UTC)
the reality of needing a job
Ah, but that's the beauty of it.

They're paying me half what this job function goes for, and I've got an additional year's experience now over what I came in with (not to mention the allegedly lucrative new MCSE certification). Worst case, I make this same salary with a temp agency based only on my typing speed. I just liked having a little job security, is all.

I mean, that's more or less the compromise that made me take this job in the first place. I'm building a studio from outside the industry. Financing my own projects so that when I do license them, I'll be negotiating from a place of leverage. I'm willing to do crappy office work for half my waking hours if it means not signing a contract like that.

If I do sign one, it will be because the horrible compromise is outweighed by job satisfaction and career advancement. Neither of which are really offered where I work.

I do need a job. But finding one this good?

Surely, another scumbag willing to exploit me for slave wages won't be too hard to come by.
cremairlandes
Jul. 1st, 2003 08:39 am (UTC)
To do so robs your word of all power - it's a simple loss of integrity. We as individuals must know without hesitation that when we say we're going to do something, it will happen. There's no room for compromise on that - if you can't trust your own word, it's over. You'll never make a difference

Oh my god. Wow. Someone thats honest. Criminy. Whatever is the world coming to?
self
Jul. 1st, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
I do try. Though, in this case it's less about honesty and more about personal empowerment - if you allow yourself too many excuses, it's always more convenient to use 'em. At least, it's always been for me. When I say "integrity" in this context, it's not a moral judgement. I'm using definitions 2 and 3:
    integrity:
    1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
    2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
    3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
It's that first one which always gets me in trouble - I can't tell you how many times I've insulted people by trying to compliment them with this, or put into words what they've accomplished. I guess "finding integrity" implies the person was a lying thieving crook beforehand. Go figure.

Anyway, honesty does play a part in that. But I think it's important to note that I don't do it to be good, but more out of self-preservation, for the goals I'm not willing to sacrifice.

*shrug*
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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