back to article NPM is Not Particularly Magnanimous? Staff fired after trying to unionize – complaints

Three of the five people axed from JavaScript package management biz NPM Inc last month claim bosses got rid of them for trying to form a union. NPM Inc, for the uninitiated, oversees npm, the default package manager for the widely used JavaScript runtime environment Node.js. The small but vital Oakland-based startup serves …

  1. cornetman Bronze badge

    So, the complaint of a female program manager is that "senior leadership is awarded more money if they discriminate against Asians and white men", but the linked Quartz article is entitled, "Microsoft staff are openly questioning the value of diversity" which is obviously not the same thing.

    With so much disingenuous positioning in the media, it's hardly surprising that there is so much bad blood over these issues.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One comment is not all comments

      Perhaps, as mentioned, the ensuing wide-ranging discussion prompted the article title?

      "An internal debate exploded within Microsoft, on a Yammer chat board used by staff ..." "Cue hundreds of comments arguing for and against this point of view."

      "The fault, dear cornetman, is not in our articles,

      But in ourselves, that we are underread."

      1. cornetman Bronze badge

        Re: One comment is not all comments

        I did indeed read the text of the article and it is indeed more balanced than the title would suggest.

        My point was that the article's title, being clickbait, is deliberately and unnecessarily provocative and does not reflect what follows.

  2. Claverhouse Silver badge
    WTF?

    The Wretched Salt of the Earth

    Salting refers to a union member seeking a job at a non-union site in an effort to form a union there; so "not salting" refers to the absence of external motive.

    I did not know this was illegal or frowned upon anywhere in the civilised world.

    Missionary work is how the first trade unions got off the ground.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

      It's not illegal, it's just a different situation, so they are trying to differentiate it from that.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

      But you're talking about the Land of the Free, those who were trying to export Democracy - yet a country so fond of slavery it has been always trying to get it back under new names.

      And with the actual Supreme Court, expect more cuts to workers' rights.

      If that what US citizens want, it's OK. Just, don't try to export it, thank you.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

        They don't need to try and export it. Rees-Mogg and the other brexit vultures are planning to import it.

        That's why they want out of the EU:

        "All services and government procurement should be opened to international competition. While these thinktanks acknowledge that opening up the NHS might be too controversial, they think it a good idea. And protections designed to avoid workers being exploited or undercut by cheap migrant labour, which, for example, limit the number of hours people can be asked to work, or require parity of pay with local workers for those posted abroad, should be removed, says Plan A+. The same goes for environmental protections, food standards and the precautionary principle that the EU favours when assessing risk.

        The US sees many of these rules as protectionist, Plan A+ explains. It says that in order to persuade the US to make concessions that would allow the UK’s services sector greater access to its markets, Britain will have to make concessions on standards the Americans find irksome, especially in food, agriculture and other goods. The things the US complains about and wants conceded include limits on pesticide residues and hormone-disrupting chemicals in food, nutritional labelling, the use of genetically modified organisms, the export of animal byproducts including some specified risk material for BSE, food additives such as flavourings that the EU has banned because of concerns over safety, hygiene rules including chlorine treatments on poultry and other meats, and animal-rearing standards such as the use of growth-promoting chemicals in pork and hormones in beef production."

        See link for more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

          A shame the downvoter didn't explain why he or she is happy with the Rees-Mogg plan.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

          A significant amount of US citizens have been let down by these US Government policies exporting our jobs and driving standards/regulation only to aid corporate interests. Both parties are complicit and therefore so we got a farcical protest vote President in the last election.

    3. paulll Bronze badge

      Re: The Wretched Salt of the Earth

      "I did not know this was illegal or frowned upon anywhere in the civilised world."

      I'd call it fraud - and there's nothing,"civilised," about being an underhanded, sneaky shit.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dafuq?

    >JavaScript package management biz

    That is one crotch punch of a four word phrase. Kill it with fire (company and the tool).

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Dafuq?

      Just leveraging added value to an existing paradigm by re-purposing content, yo!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kill it with fire (company and the tool).

      The traditional response to things one doesn't understand?

  4. JLV Silver badge

    interesting podcast at happier times - npm’s founder planning for a transition because he preferred to CTO:

    https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/founders-talk/61-isaac-schlueter-on-5ax2f7FyEj3/

  5. SVV Silver badge

    because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

    Yep, when I think about the hardship and suffering that Bill Gates and Paul Allen had to overcome in rder to start and grow your company, well, I could just weep really. How they beat all the obstacles and discrimination they faced in order to become the first ever white male owners of a successful tech company should be a story that inspires all young white male students everywhere. Don't look at all these companies and think "I'm just too different...... my face wouldn't fit in there." . With hard work and dedication, you can succeed too!

    1. tcmonkey
      Mushroom

      Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

      Let me see if I can summarise your argument: “Because some white men did well in the past, it is acceptable to hinder some completely unconnected white men now.”

      Good grief. Do you hear yourself?

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

        You make it sound like white men are doing badly now...

        Diversity is hindering white men, in the same way that social security is hindering rich people.

        1. tcmonkey

          Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

          It is utterly irrelevant how white men might be doing now, or in the past, or indeed in the future. This is because being white and a male does not make you anything except white and a male.

          In a civilised world we should strive to treat people based on their own personal merit, and not for factors outside of their control. This applies to literally everyone, of any race, gender, sexuality etc. Everyone. Even the people you don’t like. I am not even a little sorry if you find this to be difficult. You’re wrong.

          1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

            Re: "You're wrong"

            Oh do grow up. You sound like a playground crybaby.

            I'm quite keen to hear your hard and scientifically proven evidence showing that ones sexuality (i.e. sexual preference) is out of ones control and not down to some high % of personal choice and / or circumstance...

            It's ok, I'll wait thanks...

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: "You're wrong"

              Yes, genetic preference does seem to play a role. gay twin studies and the like.

              More importantly, WTF is it any of your business what someone’s sexual preference is? Even if it is 200% their choice? as long as they don’t harass you? I’m a white straight guy and, while tolerant of gay people, I find the physicality of having sex with a man quite repulsive to me.

              But that’s quite OK, I am not going to bed with a guy by accident, am I? I’ve been propositioned a few times and I’ve generally taken it as a compliment and politely declined. I’ve also broken off with a friend who kept on asking.

              And, yes, there are plenty of mannerisms that grate on my nerves and will make me avoid someone on a friend level. But that’s still their business and deserves no judgment from me aside from me preferring to spend my time elsewhere.

              I just don’t get people who are so insecure and judgmental about sexual orientation.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

      From the article:

      I have an ever-increasing file of white male Microsoft employees who have faced outright and overt discrimination because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male. This is unacceptable.

      I have the very same thing at the bank at which I work.

      How they beat all the obstacles and discrimination they faced in order to become the first ever white male owners of a successful tech company should be a story that inspires all young white male students everywhere.

      If it looks or sounds like racism when you swap the words "white" for "black" or it looks or sounds like sexism when you swap the words "male" for "female", then it can only rightly be considered racist or sexist without swapping the words.

      White skin and balls are not a birth defect. That some white men are successful does not make it OK to discriminate against other white men. I'm frankly tired of watching my best employees leave because I can't get them promoted simply because they don't fit some wholly artificial diversity template.

      It's time the right-on crowd grew up and realised that it's not OK to demonize white men. I'm tired of being blamed for all the worlds ills. I'm tired of the casual racism and sexism directed towards me every bit as much as any black woman would be were the tables turned.

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

        I think a lot of people are missing the point here.

        You are correct with the line if you can swap genders / colours and it sounds bad, then it is bad. I am 100% behind this. That includes discrimination against men and white people. However.....

        The reason these bastardised quotas for non-whites and non-males have been introduced is because without them, non-white non-males can't get there foot in the door. Is it cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer? Heck yes, but find me a better solution. First person that says "well if the person is good enough....." deserves a kick in their white male body parts.

        1. cornetman Bronze badge

          Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

          > The reason these bastardised quotas for non-whites and non-males have been introduced is because without them, non-white non-males can't get there foot in the door.

          And yet they do. In their millions. Without us having to pay women the insult of assuming that they cannot succeed without the help or capitulation of men.

          You are living in a delusion. Open your eyes. Women are *everywhere* in the workplace.

          On average, women don't make the same decisions as men about where they want to work or in what field.

          Unless you think the complete and utter dominance of the medical profession by women is a sure and certain sign of the matriarchy?

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

          without them, non-white non-males can't get there foot in the door

          Most of my team are non-white and a lot are non-male, and they'd be extremely offended by your view. I recruit based on talent alone, because I control that bit. I promote based on the companies batsht crazy metrics, which makes it all but impossible to promote a white guy, even if he is the best dev in the team.

          Positive discrimination is just discrimination. At best it ensures some black people get to work for some white racists, who otherwise wouldn't hire them. I just don't see that as a good thing..... I don't want to work for a racist and I'd rather find out before I take the job than after.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

      Sorry, but the comments section is full on misogynist, yet think they aren't.

      That or willfully ignorant of documented facts.

      I say both.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male

        Sorry, but the comments section is full on misogynist, yet think they aren't.

        That or willfully ignorant of documented facts.

        I say both.

        Sounds like your misanthropy may be showing to me. You see discrimination everywhere because you want to see discrimination, not because it necessarily exists. I have literally been told by my bank that there's no point continuing sending white men for promotion because they don't fulfill our diversity quota. That isn't misogynist or racist, that there, that is just a fact.

  6. Tom 64
    Paris Hilton

    NPM

    Nasty Profiteering Management?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NPM

      Investors pumped millions into NPM and now they want some of that money back. If NPM doesn't come up with a viable business plan, the money will run out and something will probably replace it.

      Stick to eating popcorn and watching the "beauty" of IT software company evolution where only the ugliest survive.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a Chinese company in China, the majority of employees are Chinese, and that’s OK

    In a Japanese company in Japan, the majority of employees are Japanese, and that’s OK

    In an Indian company in India, the majority of employees are Indian, and that’s OK...

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Does the ethnic representation in those companies proportionally reflect the ethnic variation of the population in the local area around them?

      1. Sir Awesome

        Does it have to? It's a company who hires the people who can best do the jobs they were employed for.

        1. BigSLitleP Silver badge
    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      In China, the vast majority of the population is Chinese. Same for Japan and India.

      In America, the vast majority of the population is American, but the genetic past is much more diverse than in China/India/Japan. The problem in America that you do not seem to get is that Americans from genetic pasts that are not white are being discriminated against by white Caucasians that mistakenly believe that they still live in a mostly-white America.

      They don't, but they're having trouble adapting to that reality.

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Interestingly...

        The power seeking white man has been dominant in the USA for the last 200 or so years, and is petrified of losing that crown and influence. Interestingly though, it's thought that hispanics are now overtaking white man as the dominant ethnic group, and I'm pretty sure the mostly white establishment is petrified of this. Hence one part of that government wanting $5bn for a wall, while the rest of the world looks on in fits of laughter and continues to try to pull existing ones down...

      2. Dal90

        >by white Caucasians that mistakenly believe that they still live in a mostly-white America.

        Regardless of political beliefs about the negative and positive discrimination, facts are facts and not a matter of perspective -- and that statement is factually incorrect.

        The United States is still mostly-white.

        The flip to majority-minority is not expected for another 25 years.

        https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/14/the-us-will-become-minority-white-in-2045-census-projects/

        1. dew3

          And "whites whites will be a minority in the US in 2045" is only true if you pretend that the millions of Hispanics who identify as white aren't white (something that Brookings report does). In fact, by 3rd generation, almost a quarter of hispanics don't self-identify as hispanic, which isn't that different than previous US immigrant groups.

          1. Valheru

            Indeed, race and genetics are not the same thing. IMHO using an unscientific term like "race" and tracking it in statistics is a fools errand. Better metrics are there and should be used.

    3. ratfox Silver badge
      Angel

      And in a country which only consists of men, the majority of employees would be men, and that would be OK.

      But there is no such country.

      1. cornetman Bronze badge

        If the distribution of men and women wanting and able to work was 50%, if the equity between the sexes was completely and utterly the same, you would still see more men in employment at any one time.

        That's because men cannot bear children.

        Perhaps you would like us to return to the good old days where women were forced to work right up to the point of giving birth, and then immediately afterwards? I understand that was common practice among the slaves in cotton plantations in the US deep south. I would like to think that society has moved on somewhat since then.

        1. ratfox Silver badge

          So counting very large, women would work on average two years less during their life because they need to bear children. meaning that over about forty years of work life, women would work 5% less than men. For 100 men working, you would have only 95 women. We're very far from that.

  8. Starace Silver badge
    Alert

    Diversity

    Funnily enough the loudest complaints I've heard recently against corporate schemes to 'improve diversity' have come from people who should nominally be the ones who'd benefit. LGBTQ, women, minorities.

    Partially because they get insulted that people think they need help, and to a great extent because it really pisses them off that other people can ride on their coat tails and get a benefit based on something they themselves want treated as irrelevant to their job, rather than their actual merits.

    Remove unfair barriers but please don't think you should manipulate the system to force an outcome.

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: Diversity

      The problem there is the number of people who actively want to discriminate based on someone else's sexuality. While true that the only thing that should matter is how well someone can do the job there still need to be protections in place to prevent discrimination. The problem is when those protections are enforced to a degree that actually discriminates against the majority.

      Case in point, the police force had (have?) a nationwide policy to encourage more ethnic minorities to join. Which is fine in ethnically diverse metropolitan areas where there's a good case for increasing numbers of ethnically diverse officers. Not so good when trying to recruit for the local force in rural Wales...

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Diversity

        You can't end racism, by being racist to someone else. That's all this forced diversity is. Everyone has equality of opportunity. Equality of outcome is what is being done instead, and that's blatantly wrong.

        Giving everyone an interview is fine. Only hiring people for X skin colour, or Y gender, or Z sexuality, is social engineering and discriminatory.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Diversity

      Some people want to replace common sense, or meritocracy hiring with forced diversity at all costs. As a minority i've also experienced this. I was actually refused a job i'd applied for because when i turned up i was assumed to be a straight white male. I was encouraged to fill in their optional survey at the end. They phoned me before i'd even left the lobby, asking me to come back in for a second interview.

      Why has an optional survey about my personal background and ethnicity immediately got me another interview?

      Why did my interview have a completely different flow and questions the second time? It was a lot easier and less pressurised.

      Do i feel good about getting a job i wouldn't have got without diversity hiring? No.

      I left before i'd been there for 2 years and was hired based on merit at my new job.

      1. BigSLitleP Silver badge

        Re: Diversity

        "Some people want to replace common sense, or meritocracy hiring with forced diversity at all costs."

        The problem is you are assuming a meritocracy exists already.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Diversity

          BigSLittleP,

          "The problem is you are assuming a meritocracy exists already."

          Well done, that encapsulates the problem exactly.

          Minorities of all types are fighting a losing battle *because* the level playing field does *not* exist even though the non-minorities think otherwise.

          The white-male and to a lesser degree the white-female always had a better chance than *any* non-white group. They thought they won because they were the *best* and the other people of the same background obviously agreed and bolstered the view they won fairly.

          There is no way that can be verified to *force* a fair recruitment process where everyone is judged against a set of equal defined standards. (Standard questions and answers are not very useful to diferentiate potential hires other than eliminate the obviously unsuitable *but* when you go outside the defined standard questions then it is easy to skew the results to your own prejudices.)

          From a basic psychological perspective people like people that are like themselves, hence men like to hire men, white like to hire white etc etc (combine multiple sub-sets of your choice !!!).

          Presently the white-male is feeling the same unfairness of the system that all the minorities have suffered for generations. It is not right for them *just* as it was not right for the minorities *but* the positive bias is there because there is no way to correct the problem that cannot be 'gamed' to apply all the old and well used methods that have been honed over decades and even today are adapted to work around any so called laws that are there to even the playing field.

          So rather than complain, come up with a working fair process that *all* people would be equally judged by and push it with the management of your company.

          Bias and discrimination is *always* there, just in the past it was 'OK' because it did not impact the majority 'White-male' so nothing was done to fix the problem !!!

          P.S. In my experience, companies that bandied about the word 'Meritocracy' usually had no understanding of what it actually means and used it to cover up the old processes that ultimately still allowed 'Favouritism', 'Cronyism' and after the fact skewing of assessment results by managers who could override the automated systems !!!. For some people this will not be news !!!

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Diversity

            "Minorities of all types are fighting a losing battle *because* the level playing field does *not* exist even though the non-minorities think otherwise"

            Bullshit. Absolutely. Find a reputable study for that and come back with an actual argument.

  9. Tim Almond

    How do they make money?

    The product is free, isn't it? Never heard of anyone paying NPM for anything.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: How do they make money?

      But the customer base is huge - might even be bigger than the population of Earth in a few years. How can you not invest! This is how millionaires were made in the 1990s. (Please ignore 1998-2000)

    2. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: How do they make money?

      Way wrong. $7 a month is the going rate for non OpenSource cloud. They'll sell you on prem too.

      If you use nodejs its very hard to avoid NPM.

      NPM make money and they seem to have a bad habit of taking wrong stance ethically speaking and ending up in the press.

      We really need an open source npm

  10. idoxde

    Back in the day

    I miss the good old days, when it was about passion, technology, best people in the field. No one asked questions what's your colour or whether you prefer boys to ladies - if you were good at what you were doing - you were a hero and you were rewarded as such. I seriously can't stand these constant problems: white, black, man, woman, hetero, homo, unicorn, politics. This plague of idiocy, quotas, entitlement and pleasing everyone is eating the industry from the inside, there is no to little focus on progress other than "new minimalistic design with black and white tiles". The end of many in the industry is nigh. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed a revolution, played games born of passion before it was all about political correctness, political agendas and money.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      You've probably just triggered a few people with that common sense.

      1. idoxde

        Re: Back in the day

        I wish I cared. It is what it is and out for everyone with a bit of common sense to see. I'm just glad that at least I have seen the beginning of that wonderful journey, before it ended in a terminal stage of this horrible leftist cancer.

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      I think it's just a lot of people with not enough to do or occupy their minds all day.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      Discrimination is real and always has been.

      You need to get rid of your rose colored glasses.

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Unionization - a root cause

    A root cause of unionization efforts is the poor treatment of employees. This poor treatment can take many forms from illegal hiring and promotion policies (excessively blatant favoritism of some type), hideous work life balance, unreasonable work loads, harassment of employees whose views do not toe the party completely, etc. not just pay, benefits, or work place safety. Obviously the list is not exhaustive. If a company is facing constant unionization efforts the mismanglement should be wondering what they are doing wrong. But given the mismanglement is often less competent and clueless than the run-of-the-mill PHB nothing will occur.

    I am wary of unions in general but if forced by mismanglement I would consider joining one depending on my options at a that time. And this is being played out in many companies, highly paid professional level staff are fed up with mistreatment and do not see that grass is greener elsewhere.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Unionization - a root cause

      Worldwide, the IT profession is getting fucked worse every year. Wages are not keeping up with ever increasing skill requirements. Nobody has job security. Those that think they do are getting rude surprises every day.

      Yet IT now controls EVERY aspect of the technological world. So why are IT worker still getting fucked?

      This will continue as long as the IT world is still made up of rugged individual cowboys. Unionization is inevitable. We hang together or we will surely hang alone.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: Unionization - a root cause

        Worldwide, the IT profession is getting fucked worse every year.

        That's not what I see, to be honest. Nowadays, tech workers often get 6-digit salaries right out of university.

        Unless you're in UK of course. In UK, tech workers are fucked. I think it's related to having past colonies with very large populations where people speak English and salaries are really low. Honestly, I would advise moving somewhere else.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to Sweden

    Welcome to Sweden, where men have to pass a telephone interview, a psych evaluation, a 3 hour hands-on test and then hopefully you get the job.

    If however, you are female, you can become a team leader, a supervisor or even a director with no qualifications and never having looked after a team of anyone. The only qualifications for the job if you are female is that you are female. If you are a female minority then you will go even further.

    Diversity is fine, but can we not level the playing field and have educated or at least experienced females in these positions?

    I've worked for three big name Swedish companies, they all had female team leaders and female managers (in each case with more female management than male) and they hired them so they can say they hire females and look at us, we're so diverse. With very few exceptions, they were all incapable and unqualified for the job. Then they get trained up, and leave. Don't believe me ? Ask someone who works at Scania, or Volvo or Statoil or pretty much any big Swedish company. Even female staff complained it was embarrassing that all the upper management women were incompetent.

    So yeah, welcome to Sweden where if you are also white male you will be discriminated against and there's nothing you can do about it .

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