back to article Staffer representation on our board? LMAO! Good one, cackles Microsoft

There was good news for investors and perhaps bad news for employees during Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting. The trillion-dollar company has been on a bit of a roll lately despite rumblings from staffers over the company's dealings with the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency. Some employees of newly …

  1. Frozit

    Not a good idea

    TBH, employee representation on the board of a large company is not a good idea. Certainly not within the current legal framework around boards and board membership.

    Having been on boards (of small companies) for the last 20 years, there are things that are discussed at the board level that need to stay within that context and not be known outside of it. An employee representative would be under pressure to break that privacy.

    This is like putting a union representative on a board. Brilliant. The union now has information on the other side of agreement negotiations. How well would that work?

    I expect to to be flamed for this, but the legal reality is that this would only lead to grief.

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea

      I expect to to be flamed for this, but the legal reality is that this would only lead to grief.

      don't see why flames would do any good,

      BUT IMHO, there is NO reason for any Co NOT to have some worker representation at the board level, having this would make things clear all round, as there is no realistic way to hide any bad news, likewise, any good news will hit the worker boards asap too, and WTF is wrong with those that help to actually MAKE the Co prosper actually getting some decent recompense for that ?

      Also, why would any Co want to wilfully hide details from its OWN WORKFORCE if there is nothing going on ?

      TL/DR - workers rights should include board level seats

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Never going to happen.

        First of all, in companies the size of Microsoft, there's always something happening that should not be known to the workforce before the appropriate time - decided by the board.

        Second, there are some things that need to be kept secret. Having an employee representative is a world of possible leaks waiting to happen.

        Third, do you really think these kind of people are going to want to shoulder it with a representative of the peons ? They're above that, and that's where they want to stay.

    2. Michael Hoffmann

      Re: Not a good idea

      IIRC, Volkswagen has been doing it for decades. Via their internal union I believe. Arguably quite successfully.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Not a good idea

        Not VW only - quite common in Germany, don't know if it is required by the law. And unlike US, Germany kept a very successful manufacturing sector even in the face of competition from low-wages countries - paying good ones instead. It doesn't look a system that does not work.

        Still, US billionaires are scared by workers' rights as much as they are scared by Elizabeth Warren.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Not a good idea

          It works in Germany because the large German engineering companies are effectively nationalised. The government, IG Metal and VW get together and agree on lower wages in return for not moving production abroad and the government agrees to set interest rates to accomodate.

          What was the plan for Silicon Valley? A nominal 'worker' on the board alongside the nominal women+ethnic minority or an equal voting power with the shareholders?

          Not clear that well paid Amazon programmers with $M share options, poorly paid Amazon warehouse workers, original investors/VCs and banks/pension funds are all going to be exactly on the same page.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            "together and agree on lower wages"

            LOL! German blue collar workers don't need two-three jobs to meet ends. And have a far better safety net than in the US if they lose their job. It's no surprise that German manufacturing is far better quality than US one.

            Since the Euro, the German government can't set interests rates any longer. They are quite pissed off Draghi kept them so low for so long.

            Some Land have stakes in some companies - but that doesn't mean they are "nationalized".

            In US in many states you can't even have unions for collective deals. And you get non-compete agreement even when you work selling hamburgers.

            The worker representative in the board of course can't be a no one without any backing. But you need working unions for that, something that in US is still the boogeyman of most "entrepreneurs" which mourn the "old slavery days".

            Then you get Trump elected....

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Not a good idea

          quite common in Germany, don't know if it is required by the law.

          .

          It is. Derived from 19th century Prussia.

          It applies to public and private companies, so long as there are over 2,000 employees. For companies with 500–2,000 employees, one third of the supervisory board must be elected.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codetermination_in_Germany

          It is typical of the feeble mentality of British management that this is feared here.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Not a good idea

            It is typical of the feeble mentality of British management that this is feared here.

            Most other countries didn't have the British experience of unions in the 70s. Anyone, anyone, that still thinks Red Robbo or Arthur Scargill did any good for their members or the wider workforce is positively delusional. They literally killed their industries and led their members to a lifetime of unemployment and insecure work, when it could easily have been very different.

            The issue is trust. Management can't trust the employees not to elect some commie bellend as their representative with the vote buying so typically found on the left, who then goes on to scupper the company with unrealistic demands. That, in a nutshell, is what most unions did in the 70s, and nobody that experienced any part of it wants to go back.

            European reps of unions have a more realistic and hollistic view of their purpose and work with management instead of agitating against them as some sort of demented awkward squad.

            Unions in this country simply don't work. If having a union enhanced your business performance, and there by the incomes and job security of your workers, then businesses would already have rolled out their own.

      2. Doctor Huh?

        Re: Not a good idea

        "IIRC, Volkswagen has been doing it for decades. Via their internal union I believe. Arguably quite successfully.'"

        It depends on your definition of success and what value employee representation is intended to provide. If direct contact between employee representatives and those responsible for corporate governance is intended to produce greater transparency to prevent unfortunate occurrences such as a far-reaching engineering scandal to cheat emissions standards world-wide that would cost the company billions of dollars and some of its reputation, then one could argue that VW hardly constitutes an example of success.

        If the purpose of employee representation is to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page as the corporation pillages the world, then I suppose a hearty "Well done, VW!" is in order.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Not a good idea

      "there are things that are discussed at the board level that need to stay within that context and not be known outside of it"

      Such as what the next Big Evil Thing they are going to do is, and how to keep the public from figuring it out?

      1. Disk0
        Mushroom

        Re: Not a good idea

        Nothing to fear huh.

  2. jason_derp

    I was worried...

    ...that the higher-ups of Microsoft might have somehow found a way to start letting people forget what a mind-bendingly evil clowder of buttholes they all are. Good to hear that they're still living up to their storied legacy, standing true and strong, and holding high the banner of incorrigible bastardom.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Indeed

      We've lost enough values as it is. Good to see someone is holding on to the ones that work.

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