Microsoft salaries on display

Ahh, I’m being asked to join a union and fight the man, Slashdot reports.

One thing. If “the man” is oppressing you, why can’t you just get another job? I know many other high tech companies that are hiring like crazy (and buying startups too). My friends at other companies say they can’t find enough good tech workers. Both people inside big companies like Yahoo/Google complain about that as well as smaller companies. There just aren’t that many geeks on the street right now.

We’re hiring at a crazy clip here. Seems that lots of people are happy with what we’re offering (we’re spending something like $1.5 billion on building new buildings in the Puget Sound area to house more people too so are planning on further future growth).

I think this competition for workers will keep unions from gaining much strength. Why? Cause there’s no better way to mess with “the man” than to walk off the job and work for the competition.

What do you think?

139 thoughts on “Microsoft salaries on display

  1. John C. Welch is obviously one of those professional MS-bashers and an Anti-MS freak. I see his posts criticizing Microsoft EVERYWHERE. Including here and Slashdot. Don’t listen to him. He’s apparently too sour and doesn’t live a gratifying life, so he spends all this energy MS-bashing. BTW, I’m a twenty-something new grad foreigner who was hired by MS and moved to Redmond, and I’m making more than my friends make working for Apple. I am really happy to be in such a great place to work, with great pay, and great benefits. Sure, there are lots of bad apples, but you make your own life and work environment. Personally, I love it. Too bad John is so pissed off. Typical fanboy behavior I guess.

  2. John C. Welch is obviously one of those professional MS-bashers and an Anti-MS freak. I see his posts criticizing Microsoft EVERYWHERE. Including here and Slashdot. Don’t listen to him. He’s apparently too sour and doesn’t live a gratifying life, so he spends all this energy MS-bashing. BTW, I’m a twenty-something new grad foreigner who was hired by MS and moved to Redmond, and I’m making more than my friends make working for Apple. I am really happy to be in such a great place to work, with great pay, and great benefits. Sure, there are lots of bad apples, but you make your own life and work environment. Personally, I love it. Too bad John is so pissed off. Typical fanboy behavior I guess.

  3. One of the responders noted the age-discrimination in the tech industry. I’m almost 60, and have never found it difficult to get a good job. I’ve done a wide range of cool things with smart young’uns :), and learned a lot in the process. I think you start getting old when you think somebody younger than you really can’t teach you much. Tech is about results – did your project rock or suck? It’s not about “even though your project kicked ass, did the old guys on the project drag you down with their lack of modernity?”
    Unions are antediluvian relicts of past industries. They may still have a place in the third world and in some industry/manufacturing sectors, but I’ve watched unions in the health care sector and the teaching profession tear apart their own members’ best interests in the name of “making a difference.” Example, a union at a local consumer-directed HMO sent its members out on strike (and, like sheep, they went), they remained out for months, and, in the end, they received essentially the exact package that the company was offering in the beginning, with differences on the order of “your co-pay is now 8 dollars instead of 10″. That sort of thing. Calculate the cost to the employees of being out of work for that length of time and it would take advanced healthcare indeed to keep them alive long enough for their efforts to deliver any rewards. Oof – ok, flame off. I just don’t care for unions. I believe in merit, and unions, for all their rhetoric, believe in seniority.

  4. One of the responders noted the age-discrimination in the tech industry. I’m almost 60, and have never found it difficult to get a good job. I’ve done a wide range of cool things with smart young’uns :), and learned a lot in the process. I think you start getting old when you think somebody younger than you really can’t teach you much. Tech is about results – did your project rock or suck? It’s not about “even though your project kicked ass, did the old guys on the project drag you down with their lack of modernity?”
    Unions are antediluvian relicts of past industries. They may still have a place in the third world and in some industry/manufacturing sectors, but I’ve watched unions in the health care sector and the teaching profession tear apart their own members’ best interests in the name of “making a difference.” Example, a union at a local consumer-directed HMO sent its members out on strike (and, like sheep, they went), they remained out for months, and, in the end, they received essentially the exact package that the company was offering in the beginning, with differences on the order of “your co-pay is now 8 dollars instead of 10″. That sort of thing. Calculate the cost to the employees of being out of work for that length of time and it would take advanced healthcare indeed to keep them alive long enough for their efforts to deliver any rewards. Oof – ok, flame off. I just don’t care for unions. I believe in merit, and unions, for all their rhetoric, believe in seniority.

  5. I find the anti-union writing here very sad. As far as I’m concerned it misses the point of a modern union. (I work in the UK, but as I’m writing in a private capacity, I won’t say where. My union is Prospect.) As an employee of a large company, I am one of that company’s stakeholders. My union membership allows my stakeholderhood (if such a word exists) actually to make a difference, because all the other stakeholders can no longer ignore me. As a stakeholder, I want the company to do well so that I can share in its success. My union membership gives me a voice, and that helps to balance the equation between employer and employee.

    Ask yourself why the adversarial system is used in the legal system, even for people who are patently guilty. FWIW, my answer is that if you personalize the defence then you put your greatest efforts into it. A guilty verdict in the face of a strong defence is worth FAR more than one in the face of a token defence. A company with a good, strong union representing a workforce who feel that their contribution and opinions matter is FAR stronger than one with an attitude of “if you don’t like it then leave”. How can you do worse with a wider range of options to draw on?

    To the people who think that union membership is about closed shops and “protectionism” I would say that a good modern union is not like that any more. I hope that a newly unionized company would not be so regressive. I can’t guarantee that, of course, but as the union is nothing more than the sum of its members, they (i.e. you) could guarantee it. Or don’t you feel that you are stronger when you work with your colleagues rather than in competition with them? Aren’t you a team player?

  6. I find the anti-union writing here very sad. As far as I’m concerned it misses the point of a modern union. (I work in the UK, but as I’m writing in a private capacity, I won’t say where. My union is Prospect.) As an employee of a large company, I am one of that company’s stakeholders. My union membership allows my stakeholderhood (if such a word exists) actually to make a difference, because all the other stakeholders can no longer ignore me. As a stakeholder, I want the company to do well so that I can share in its success. My union membership gives me a voice, and that helps to balance the equation between employer and employee.

    Ask yourself why the adversarial system is used in the legal system, even for people who are patently guilty. FWIW, my answer is that if you personalize the defence then you put your greatest efforts into it. A guilty verdict in the face of a strong defence is worth FAR more than one in the face of a token defence. A company with a good, strong union representing a workforce who feel that their contribution and opinions matter is FAR stronger than one with an attitude of “if you don’t like it then leave”. How can you do worse with a wider range of options to draw on?

    To the people who think that union membership is about closed shops and “protectionism” I would say that a good modern union is not like that any more. I hope that a newly unionized company would not be so regressive. I can’t guarantee that, of course, but as the union is nothing more than the sum of its members, they (i.e. you) could guarantee it. Or don’t you feel that you are stronger when you work with your colleagues rather than in competition with them? Aren’t you a team player?

  7. yeah…no shit, I’d love to not have to have made some of the deals with the devil I’ve made. It would not suck at all to have a job not be the ONLY WAY you can get affordable health insurance.

  8. yeah…no shit, I’d love to not have to have made some of the deals with the devil I’ve made. It would not suck at all to have a job not be the ONLY WAY you can get affordable health insurance.

  9. Unions are great. I only wish the tech sector was unionized. In fact, I wish this country had a third political party – something akin to what they have in Europe – the Socialist party. I would love to have universal healthcare, a guaranteed retirement salary, and other perks. And yes, before you ask, I’m willing to pay up to 60-70% of my salary in taxes to get that kind of security like they enjoy in scandinavia. No CEO, no matter how good, deserves millions while the people who actually do the work make maybe 60-100k. No matter how visionary someone is, they don’t deserve to get rich at the expense of the worker class. Police and firefighters deserve to make three times what they do because they put their lives at risk.

  10. Unions are great. I only wish the tech sector was unionized. In fact, I wish this country had a third political party – something akin to what they have in Europe – the Socialist party. I would love to have universal healthcare, a guaranteed retirement salary, and other perks. And yes, before you ask, I’m willing to pay up to 60-70% of my salary in taxes to get that kind of security like they enjoy in scandinavia. No CEO, no matter how good, deserves millions while the people who actually do the work make maybe 60-100k. No matter how visionary someone is, they don’t deserve to get rich at the expense of the worker class. Police and firefighters deserve to make three times what they do because they put their lives at risk.

  11. “Steve Ballmer wasn’t under oath either. The guy telling the other side of the story was.”

    The guy telling the other side of the story had incentive to lie. Well, he works for the other side.

  12. “Steve Ballmer wasn’t under oath either. The guy telling the other side of the story was.”

    The guy telling the other side of the story had incentive to lie. Well, he works for the other side.

  13. Tobin..do you like having, in theory, a 40 hour work week?

    Unions did that.

    You like not being forced to buy all of your food and clothing from your employer?

    Unions are why the lyrics from this song: “I owe my soul to the company store” are an anachronism.

    You like quite a few of the things you evidently think have always been there thanks to “the open market?”

    Thank Unions. Yes, they are sometimes a pain in the ass, but lets understand something…most of the freedoms you enjoy as a worker came from people who died to give you those rights, in some cases killed by agents of the Federal Government.

    However, in your world, evidently, the only reason for staying at a job you may not like is because you’re stupid or incompetent. It couldn’t be for things like stability, or an uncertain job market caused by companies like Microsoft doing everything they can to bring in cheap foreign labor because, according to Gates, “There’s no smart people in the US”, or companies not hiring people over the age of 40 in the tech sector.

    Right now, I think it behooves anyone in the tech sector to be as mercenary as possible, because with rare exception, (and no, Microsoft isn’t one), that company you work for will dump your ass in the street in a heartbeat if they can replace you with someone working for a dime on the dollar.

    This of course makes changing jobs less of a step up, and more of a deal with the devil. You just hope when the note comes due, you can get SOME of your soul back.

  14. Tobin..do you like having, in theory, a 40 hour work week?

    Unions did that.

    You like not being forced to buy all of your food and clothing from your employer?

    Unions are why the lyrics from this song: “I owe my soul to the company store” are an anachronism.

    You like quite a few of the things you evidently think have always been there thanks to “the open market?”

    Thank Unions. Yes, they are sometimes a pain in the ass, but lets understand something…most of the freedoms you enjoy as a worker came from people who died to give you those rights, in some cases killed by agents of the Federal Government.

    However, in your world, evidently, the only reason for staying at a job you may not like is because you’re stupid or incompetent. It couldn’t be for things like stability, or an uncertain job market caused by companies like Microsoft doing everything they can to bring in cheap foreign labor because, according to Gates, “There’s no smart people in the US”, or companies not hiring people over the age of 40 in the tech sector.

    Right now, I think it behooves anyone in the tech sector to be as mercenary as possible, because with rare exception, (and no, Microsoft isn’t one), that company you work for will dump your ass in the street in a heartbeat if they can replace you with someone working for a dime on the dollar.

    This of course makes changing jobs less of a step up, and more of a deal with the devil. You just hope when the note comes due, you can get SOME of your soul back.

  15. John, Having a family is a personal life decision that some people make and some people don’t. There are pros and cons to every decision in life. The problems with Unions is that they attempt to protect those decisions for you (negating your “con”) by taking away the benefits away from those who didn’t make that decision (negating my “pro”). Forced corporate socialism at the hand of a third party who really is just in it for the money isn’t the answer to anything. Ultimately, if you make the decision to have a family, IMHO, its your responsibility to figure out how you are going to feed them. This isn’t as hard as you make it out. I know plenty of families that have made a moral decision to quit their jobs and move to another area for a better job. Also, don’t get me wrong. I very much admire people who have decided to have families and do everything they can to protect them. I just fail to see how sticking around at a job where you aren’t happy is good for anyone.

  16. John, Having a family is a personal life decision that some people make and some people don’t. There are pros and cons to every decision in life. The problems with Unions is that they attempt to protect those decisions for you (negating your “con”) by taking away the benefits away from those who didn’t make that decision (negating my “pro”). Forced corporate socialism at the hand of a third party who really is just in it for the money isn’t the answer to anything. Ultimately, if you make the decision to have a family, IMHO, its your responsibility to figure out how you are going to feed them. This isn’t as hard as you make it out. I know plenty of families that have made a moral decision to quit their jobs and move to another area for a better job. Also, don’t get me wrong. I very much admire people who have decided to have families and do everything they can to protect them. I just fail to see how sticking around at a job where you aren’t happy is good for anyone.

  17. Oh silly Innocent Bystander, in Robert’s magical world of “just work somewhere else” there’s no such thing as long term illnesses, or obligations that keep you from moving. All jobs provide top-tier benefits and relocation expenses.

    All houses are mushrooms, and watch out for that Jokey Smurf, his presents are quite the festive explosion.

  18. Oh silly Innocent Bystander, in Robert’s magical world of “just work somewhere else” there’s no such thing as long term illnesses, or obligations that keep you from moving. All jobs provide top-tier benefits and relocation expenses.

    All houses are mushrooms, and watch out for that Jokey Smurf, his presents are quite the festive explosion.

  19. It’s interesting to note that all the people espousing “Just get another job, even if it means moving across the country” are all the people who are able to do that with nary a moment’s thought.

    When you’re 40 with a family, it’s a little more complicated, and I speak as someone with far too much experience in having to move for a job.

  20. It’s interesting to note that all the people espousing “Just get another job, even if it means moving across the country” are all the people who are able to do that with nary a moment’s thought.

    When you’re 40 with a family, it’s a little more complicated, and I speak as someone with far too much experience in having to move for a job.

  21. First off, let me address the topic at hand — unions. My dad works for Valspar. The plant where my dad works is still unionized and is very much one of the most dysfunctional places on this planet. My dad pays $70/month for dues (which amounts to a lot for some people in this world). These fees are paid simply because if he doesn’t join the union, the union will do whatever they can to make my dad’s stay a shorter one. The union actually doesn’t do anything good anymore — they simply don’t do anything “bad” to you if you keep paying your dues. Sounds like racketeering to me.

    So why do union organizations want to unionize employees anywhere — Microsoft or Ford or US Steel or otherwise? What interest do they have? Its obviously financially motivated. If you think its hard now to get things done at Microsoft with two different viewpoints (Microsoft vs the employee), try throwing a third greedy hand into the pot and you have complete chaos.

    The best way to fix things at Microsoft is to bring excitement back to the company. Excitement comes when teams work together and innovate as though they were start-ups. Excitement comes when you take on competition (which means you have to actually recognize competition when you see it).

    Until last week, I had a very successful business. Things couldn’t have been better for me financially and otherwise. I closed up shop and moved to Redmond this week. I start work at Microsoft Monday. Why? Because I’m in a great position to make a difference — I don’t have finance to worry about and I’m feeling pretty confident in my skills after my own business success. I may be naive, but I plan on making a difference in my job– something I cannot do with a Union getting in my way and complicating the equation to success.

  22. First off, let me address the topic at hand — unions. My dad works for Valspar. The plant where my dad works is still unionized and is very much one of the most dysfunctional places on this planet. My dad pays $70/month for dues (which amounts to a lot for some people in this world). These fees are paid simply because if he doesn’t join the union, the union will do whatever they can to make my dad’s stay a shorter one. The union actually doesn’t do anything good anymore — they simply don’t do anything “bad” to you if you keep paying your dues. Sounds like racketeering to me.

    So why do union organizations want to unionize employees anywhere — Microsoft or Ford or US Steel or otherwise? What interest do they have? Its obviously financially motivated. If you think its hard now to get things done at Microsoft with two different viewpoints (Microsoft vs the employee), try throwing a third greedy hand into the pot and you have complete chaos.

    The best way to fix things at Microsoft is to bring excitement back to the company. Excitement comes when teams work together and innovate as though they were start-ups. Excitement comes when you take on competition (which means you have to actually recognize competition when you see it).

    Until last week, I had a very successful business. Things couldn’t have been better for me financially and otherwise. I closed up shop and moved to Redmond this week. I start work at Microsoft Monday. Why? Because I’m in a great position to make a difference — I don’t have finance to worry about and I’m feeling pretty confident in my skills after my own business success. I may be naive, but I plan on making a difference in my job– something I cannot do with a Union getting in my way and complicating the equation to success.

  23. Don – there is an RSS feed for every comment thread linked right above the comment form. Scoble currently cannot add any plugins because he’s using the hosted version of WordPress. Then again, Matt Mullenweg has done some custom mods here not available to other hosted WP users, so he might be willing to do that too.

    Cocomment.com might be another option, although not everybody commenting here uses it, but at least you could track where *you* left comments easier.

  24. Don – there is an RSS feed for every comment thread linked right above the comment form. Scoble currently cannot add any plugins because he’s using the hosted version of WordPress. Then again, Matt Mullenweg has done some custom mods here not available to other hosted WP users, so he might be willing to do that too.

    Cocomment.com might be another option, although not everybody commenting here uses it, but at least you could track where *you* left comments easier.

  25. You are one of the best known geeks in the world … and you don’t make six figures. In your case that isn’t a matter of unionization, it is a matter of negotiation. You just aren’t demanding enough perhaps. On the other hand … you probably have some great stock options and other perks, not to mention all the other great stuff.

    By the way I need a copy of vista to test for a book I am working on. Any leads on that? You have my email obviously.

    Last, it sure would be nice if you had a subscribe to comment feature as I lose your threads after a day or two sometimes.

    Have a great weekend even if you are underpaid for your talent and recognition level …

  26. You are one of the best known geeks in the world … and you don’t make six figures. In your case that isn’t a matter of unionization, it is a matter of negotiation. You just aren’t demanding enough perhaps. On the other hand … you probably have some great stock options and other perks, not to mention all the other great stuff.

    By the way I need a copy of vista to test for a book I am working on. Any leads on that? You have my email obviously.

    Last, it sure would be nice if you had a subscribe to comment feature as I lose your threads after a day or two sometimes.

    Have a great weekend even if you are underpaid for your talent and recognition level …

  27. Working 80-100 hours weeks at MS doesn’t make any sense at all. I know. I did it.

    My manager and manager’s manager were very, very impressed with all that I accomplished and contributed to the team but it wasn’t reflected in the bonus. I was rewarded well, but not well enough to justify the effort that I put in. Consider that such a schedule is more 2x more hours than many other employees and the pay wasn’t 2x as much. Instead my co-workers basically thought I was being dumb for being so passionate and driven, and they were right. It was sapping the fun that I used to have at my job. So I did the sensable thing and left.

    So far it has been an excellent choice. I got a job that paid better. I feel like the people I work with are much more passionate and in general I’ve been more humbled/amazed by a much large percentage of co-workers than I’ve been at MS in a long time. My one regret about leaving MS is that I didn’t do it a lot sooner.

    The sad thing is that MS used to be a great place to work, but so much has deteriorated in so many ways as the company growth rate has slowed.

    Here’s one way of summing it up. At MS, do you feel like a profit center to be enabled and empowered or an expense to be minimized?

  28. Working 80-100 hours weeks at MS doesn’t make any sense at all. I know. I did it.

    My manager and manager’s manager were very, very impressed with all that I accomplished and contributed to the team but it wasn’t reflected in the bonus. I was rewarded well, but not well enough to justify the effort that I put in. Consider that such a schedule is more 2x more hours than many other employees and the pay wasn’t 2x as much. Instead my co-workers basically thought I was being dumb for being so passionate and driven, and they were right. It was sapping the fun that I used to have at my job. So I did the sensable thing and left.

    So far it has been an excellent choice. I got a job that paid better. I feel like the people I work with are much more passionate and in general I’ve been more humbled/amazed by a much large percentage of co-workers than I’ve been at MS in a long time. My one regret about leaving MS is that I didn’t do it a lot sooner.

    The sad thing is that MS used to be a great place to work, but so much has deteriorated in so many ways as the company growth rate has slowed.

    Here’s one way of summing it up. At MS, do you feel like a profit center to be enabled and empowered or an expense to be minimized?

  29. They outright lied about me.

    No, scobleizer. The register most certainly did not lie about you. You wrote that IE 7 disabled your google toolbar, then you took the post down and denied ever having written that.

    The whole event is what prompted you to switch from radio.weblogs to your current blogging service provider, wordpress.

    Sometimes I lose hope I will ever see any integrity from you.

  30. They outright lied about me.

    No, scobleizer. The register most certainly did not lie about you. You wrote that IE 7 disabled your google toolbar, then you took the post down and denied ever having written that.

    The whole event is what prompted you to switch from radio.weblogs to your current blogging service provider, wordpress.

    Sometimes I lose hope I will ever see any integrity from you.

  31. “If “the man” is oppressing you, why can’t you just get another job?”

    Because I have a life long illness that requires expensive healthcare and the only way to get good coverage/care is to stay in the big companies that haven’t yet gone completely mercenary? Although the benefits get a little crummier every year, the copays go up, and they cover a little less – the way to keep the Drs working and my family fed is to find a spot in your big machine and just coast. I hate my job but I need the health coverage.

    You want to drop dead weight? Vote for non-trivial national health care like all the other industrial countries have.

  32. “If “the man” is oppressing you, why can’t you just get another job?”

    Because I have a life long illness that requires expensive healthcare and the only way to get good coverage/care is to stay in the big companies that haven’t yet gone completely mercenary? Although the benefits get a little crummier every year, the copays go up, and they cover a little less – the way to keep the Drs working and my family fed is to find a spot in your big machine and just coast. I hate my job but I need the health coverage.

    You want to drop dead weight? Vote for non-trivial national health care like all the other industrial countries have.

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