WashTech Union Snipes At Microsoft

    March 9, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Invoking leaked documents and the Mini-Microsoft blog, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers attacked Microsoft over its compensation and review policies.

Internal Microsoft documents showing minimal or no salary changes over the past two years have caused engineers to flee Microsoft for the profitable confines of Google or Yahoo, WashTech contended on its web site. The union is part of the AFL-CIO’s Communication Workers of America, and has long desired to unionize Microsoft.

Though the tiny movement in Microsoft’s compensation rankled WashTech, the review process drew greater ire. That process operates on a bell curve model, where employees get rankings based on their performance. WashTech cited anonymous sources from within Microsoft on their displeasure with the system:

According to employees, who said they would be fired if they spoke on the record, the annual review amounts to little more than a closed-door popularity contest in which managers “fight” for higher scores for their team, or defer to higher-level decision makers who mandate how many workers drop to the bottom of the review scale.

One employee in the company’s Mobile and Embedded Devices group said when it comes to her review score, “my performance is about 10 percent of the whole equation.”

Another employee denounced a compensation system that is “capricious in its tolerance of managers who corrupt the system for their personal gain,” and blamed consecutive low-rankings on a “well-entrenched culture of favoritism.”

The Mini-Microsoft blog has been one notable place where such complaints have been made in several posts. Today, Mini-Microsoft’s hidden blogger suggested employees use the WashTech story to their advantage in forthcoming reviews:

As for Microsofties: if you haven’t done your Mid Year Discussion yet, perhaps you now have at least one more interesting topic to bring up…

One big problem with compensation has been the performance of Microsoft’s stock. Relatively flat for several years, Microsoft can’t wave stock options at incoming employees. Those new hires may see a second Internet bubble in play with major Internet players like Yahoo, Google, and AOL all buying startups and enriching those who work at them.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.