back to article NPM Inc settles union-busting complaints on third try – after CEO trolled for ordering internal mole hunt

JavaScript package registry NPM Inc and three fired employees locked in a labor rights battle reached a settlement on Friday, The Register has learned. The deal was brokered during a third round at negotiations after a second series of talks broke down earlier last week. The trio of former staffers – Graham Carlson, Audrey …

  1. FozzyBear

    However,sent the toys

    Should have added a few plush vulture heads to the gift package.

    1. SVV

      Re: However,sent the toys

      If people keep sending them boxes of fluffy toys through the mail, they might need to hire someone to sort out all these parcels so that they can get on with their work. Some sort of package manager I guess.

      1. ForthIsNotDead

        Re: However,sent the toys

        Beer. --->

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Bryan Bogensberger's hurt feelings"

    poor little Baby Huey.

  3. chuckufarley

    Repairing Relations? What about...

    ...Not damaging them to start with? If any institution thinks it can sweep it's wrong doings under the rug in the in this day and age...~19,5% of the way through the 21st is being run from the 20th century. For a major IT company whose code base is used by billions of people every day to think this way is telling. Personally I do not find what is tells us encouraging.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

      I always end up wondering, what do business schools teach nowadays? Shouldn't "How not to be stupid" be a required course?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

        I thought "must be stupid" was an entry requirement. It's the only explanation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

        From my own experiences in dealing with management, HOW to be stupid is a very large part of the course.

      3. STOP_FORTH

        Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

        Cutting fixed costs, demotivating staff with petty restrictions and pointless bureaucracy and running company into the ground and/or buffers. (Depending on whether you make planes or trains.)

        Haven't you seen the syllabus?

    2. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

      it is being run from the 20th century

      In the USA, perhaps, union busting is very 20th century. In the developed world, it feels more 19th century with a few wannabe Victorian hangers on.

      1. Arctic fox

        @Spanners Re: ....union busting is very 20th century

        It is unfortunately very 21st century as well in the US. A substantial proportion of American employers are so right-wing that they regard anyone who is a member of a trades union as a closet communist.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: @Spanners ....union busting is very 20th century

          A substantial proportion of American employers are so right-wing that they regard anyone who is a member of a trades union as a closet communist.

          And they aren't even completely wrong as labour unions were invented by Karl Marx. Frankly, I've always been surprised by the power of the labour unions in America given their origin.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Labour unions invented by Karl Marx!?

            "In 1799, the Combination Act was passed, which banned trade unions and collective bargaining by British workers."

            "Karl Marx, born 1818"

            Both quotes from Wikipedia.

            But why bother with facts If they don't fit your preconceptions, right?

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: Labour unions invented by Karl Marx!?

              So I was wrong, happens. Are you perfect? If so, why are you posting as an Anonymous Coward?

              1. chuckufarley

                Re: Labour unions invented by Karl Marx!?

                Are you saying AC's are substandard commentards?

              2. Claverhouse Silver badge

                Re: Labour unions invented by Karl Marx!?

                More stupefaction that anyone would believe any such thing, I guess...

                Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.

        2. LucreLout

          Re: @Spanners ....union busting is very 20th century

          It is unfortunately very 21st century as well in the US

          The simple reality, however unpopular with the Commentards it is, is that no competent management group will ever allow a union to take root in their company if there is any way at all to prevent it. The sole MO of most unions is to stir up discontent, and as we all know a house divided cannot stand.

          There's a fundamental misalignment of expectations too - unions expect inflation busting pay rises every year, while management view salaries as being a replacement cost (how much does it cost to get the job done, as opposed to how much does it cost to get the job done by you).

          They're mutually exclusive competing concerns - the primary job of any company is to make money for its owners. At their core, that is why they all exist. Companies can survive and thrive without unions, but the converse is not true.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @Spanners ....union busting is very 20th century

            "The sole MO of most unions is to stir up discontent"

            In a word: Bullshit

            In a few more words: Bullshit of the highest order. Keep taking your pills and drinking your Kool Aid.

            Unions which end up like that are a direct result of rotten management - let's not forget the role of companies like Pinkerton and their extremely violent union-busting antics

            1. LucreLout

              Re: @Spanners ....union busting is very 20th century

              @Alan Brown

              Wow, someones triggered today. Are you by any chance off your meds?

              No union in British history has worked with management for the betterment of the enterprise. Most are quite happy to wreck a business to show a stronger "negotiating" (read blackmailing) hand with other employers.

              The average Rover worker lost 50% of their comp when the factories closed, meaning they were economically earning twice their replacement cost - double pay. The average miner lost more still, if they ever worked again. Dockers didn't just used to be a type of shoe. The list is endless and it is the reason unions by and large simply don't exist in the private sector.

    3. Cxwf

      Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

      Unfortunately damaging the relationships in the first place was probably unavoidable here. NPM may have been (relatively) well LIKED before this misadventure, but they were still losing money and you can’t keep that up long term. Any change big enough to turn around their profit problems was guaranteed to piss off SOMEONE.

      That said, there’s clearly a choice between handling business changes gracefully vs putting your foot in your mouth, and getting involved in lawsuits (and losing them) strongly suggests the latter.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Repairing Relations? What about...

        They were certainly a convenient way to suck vast amounts of code of uncertain provenance and trustworthiness into your application with minimal vetting. npm is the fastest way to introduce new security holes since the web was invented.

  4. cantankerous swineherd

    JavaScript. just say no.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      JavaScript. just say no.

      And watch "the internet" refuse to load.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: JavaScript. just say no.

        Not until Web Assembly takes over, then just say no.

        1. The First Dave

          Re: JavaScript. just say no.

          "Not until Web Assembly takes over"

          When do you imagine that Web Assembly will take over from _server side_ JS ??

          1. LucreLout

            Re: JavaScript. just say no.

            When do you imagine that Web Assembly will take over from _server side_ JS ??

            What's server side js and why would anyone want such a thing?

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: JavaScript. just say no.

        Enable it and watch your machine being p0wned

      3. 404

        Re: JavaScript. just say no.

        Actually, disabling javascript disables quite a few paywalls... and other stuff... just saying...

  5. Stuart Moore

    So tempting...

    To send them a Playmobil vulture and mole...

  6. druck Silver badge


    The more negative publicity NPM makes for itself, the more it users might start looking at this page

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives


      NPM mode of dependency management has got silly of late. You can download a package via NPM and download the same code 3 or 4 times in a sprawling tree of node_modules directories.

      Somehow other package managers survive with "dont break shit" / "backwards compatibility".

      IMHO NodeJS, run by the Linux foundation, should distance themselves from NPM.

  7. Chairman of the Bored


    Someone sent a package of Butt Paste ( to a director at my last place of employment. The note read something along the lines of "You're a badly inflamed asshole. This might help. Cheers."

    Funnily enough, that didn't go over well and interrogations ensued. Wish we had a name for the culprit though, because a turn like that deserves some free beer

    1. Nunyabiznes

      Re: Gifts

      Years ago I worked in a new factory being brought online. We were a non-union expansion for the existing union shop in the eastern US.

      Including startup beginning in April, we were able to out-produce the old factory (that had more lines) by end of year.

      The union shop got 10% production bonuses at Christmas based on our work. We got fruit baskets. Really.

      We closed the factory the week between Christmas and New Year for maintenance, giving mischievous minds time to prank. I crawled through the rafters into the office area above the plant manager's office and carefully lowered enough fruit baskets to cover his quite large desk. This was, of course, in a corner office facing southwest - in south Texas. Even in winter the sun shines quite brightly most days and temps in an office where HVAC is off for plant maintenance can get notably elevated.

      The entire office area had to be aired out for several days after staff returned.

      Immature and childish, sure. But funny to everyone but the boss. Even other front office staffers were heard giggling - because they had been shorted also leaving only the plant manager getting a quite generous bonus.

      Notably, we didn't get fruit baskets the next year, even after breaking production records again.

      I would AC, but I really don't care if that employer finally figures out who did it.

      1. Chairman of the Bored

        Re: Gifts

        Awesome use of fruit basket! If memory serves, South Texas has these little black flies that like sweets and can materialize out of thin air. Must have been epic.

      2. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Gifts

        I remember reading, if I recall rightly, the chairman of Carphone Warehouse, a winsome thatcherite type, decided to give muffins to his workers instead of bonuses.

        I've refrained from going near Carphone Warehouse since.

  8. ForthIsNotDead


    'Yall might want to start downloading your JS packages onto your own infrastructure. These dudes are toast. 'Yall gonna wake up one morning and find your sites toast, too.


      Re: Toast

      Y'all surely?

      1. Mage

        Re: Toast

        Stop calling me Shirley. It's Síle

      2. ForthIsNotDead

        Re: Toast

        Guilty as charged!

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Toast

      Yall might want to start downloading your JS packages onto your own infrastructure

      If only it were just NPM. I'm afraid it's unicorns all the way down, framework folks.

  9. JulieM

    Stuffed Moles

    Given the sense of humour of the likely participants, I'm almost surprised nobody tried to send them 6.02214e+23 stuffed moles .....

    1. Carpet Deal 'em
  10. Erik4872

    The whole thing is surprising

    I'm not shocked about the union-busting attempt. I worked in IT for an airline for a few years, and at that time the pilots weren't unionized (startup LCC.) My work put me in the pilots' orbit frequently -- and the stories of outright propaganda ahead of the vote were quite interesting. They never did anything that could be proven, but there was indeed some mole hunting going on too. All companies do this to try to identify the "troublemakers" and constructively dismiss them. It took 3 attempts but now the pilots are in a union; basically the airline isn't a startup anymore and they want to get paid the same way and have the same rules as their peers at major carriers. They definitely didn't want the publicity either, but trying to find the leak just made more noise.

    What really surprises me more is the thought of a union of Silicon Valley/SF tech workers. I tend to lean more towards the pro-labor side but basically everyone in tech I've met is a staunch libertarian type who believes in their own bootstraps and their own superiority to their peers being the only protection they need. I know working at startups is a grueling grind of 90+ hour weeks and low pay, but I thought those types did it voluntarily for the vague hope they'd be millionaires someday. Maybe they realized that NPM is basically a giant CDN for JavaScript snippets and their only hope is Microsoft buying it to fold into GitHub.

    I don't expect pro-union activity to be a trend in IT/dev until we wake up and decide we're a big-boy/girl profession now -- and I wonder if that's going to happen in the 25 or so years I have left in my working life.

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