Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nothing in life is guaranteed

The phrase "contract worker" is a misnomer. I can be fired at any time, and they can change the terms of my employment at any time (although I'm free to leave instead). I don't actually know if I'm required to give two weeks notice, but I've never signed anything saying I am, so I suspect not. Nonetheless, I feel it is morally wrong for either party to change the rules midway through the game. When I start a job, I commit to it for the length of time we agree on.

Companies don't seem to see it that way. There can be little things, like my company extending the contract by four months without asking me, and then moving the end date up by a week. I didn't mind too badly, since if I didn't want to keep working I could have quit, and they changed the date far enough in the future that I could plan.

Then there's friend #1, who has more than once been let go early because he, quote, finished all the work. That's a bad incentive system right there, but on the other hand, he was hired to a job and he finished it. That's a bad incentive system, and they should have been upfront about it so he could charge for the risk premium, but it doesn't stay in my craw.

Microsoft's latest bullshit sticks in my craw. They're cutting the pay of all contractors by 10% mid way through the contract (the post says it's unconfirmed, but several friends have since confirmed it). That's not right. People turned down other opportunities in part based on salary expectation, and they know that, and now Microsoft doesn't want to pay for the fact that they recruited the talent when it was scarcer for, tops, 11 months, and generally much shorter.

It gets worse. I didn't know this, but according to the ever informative internet commenters on that site, the contracts they sign with the agencies are binding. They're getting around this by refusing to send more work to agencies that refuse to cut their rates. I had a whole rant against MS prepared, but now I'm pissed at the agencies. They want me to take a pay cut so that they can make money on other people later (and remember that anyone working there now is subject to the hundred day quarantine period between this contract and their next one, so this isn't really guaranteeing them their next job), despite the huge cut they take out of the money Microsoft gives them. Most contractors would remain profitable even after 10% was taken out. Previous to this, my attitude was that I would take a contract with MS if they could pay well enough, since other options are limited, but now I worry about rewarding the agencies' bad behavior.

On the other hand, agencies like Volt and Excell, as well as numerous smaller ones, have built their entire business around MS. At most they have a few other clients to occupy their contractors during their quarantine period. They were made an offer they couldn't refuse. Fuck Microsoft for extending it

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