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March 09, 2005
Tech Workers Eye OT Pay

As stock options and bonuses become smaller and less prevalent in Silicon Valley because of new accounting rules and economic reasons, some workers at technology companies have begun to seek overtime pay, the New York Times reports.

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Some tech workers say they feel exploited because they must work long hours without the rewards they once received. In the past, stock options and bonuses made it easier for workers to justify the long hours. However, new rules requiring companies to treat employee stock options as an expense mean it will be more expensive for companies to grant stock options, and there is no technology boom in sight to make the stock options that are granted lucrative, the newspaper notes.

One technology company is changing its compensation policy to allow overtime pay for some of its workers, the newspaper reports. Electronic Arts, a video-game maker that employs 5,800 workers, says it is responding to employee pressure. The workers who receive overtime pay would be ineligible for stock options and bonuses.

"This tears at the employment model that Silicon Valley was built on," Rusty Rueff, the director of human resources for Electronic Arts, tells the newspaper. "[Overtime pay will move game developers] out of a culture that emphasizes entrepreneurialism and ownership and into a clock-watching mentality."

In the video-game industry, workers put in long hours during the intense period just before video games are released, called crunching. During crunching, game developers can sometimes work, they say, up to 80 hours per week. At conferences and online, game developers have begun to discuss quality-of-life issues and working conditions, the newspaper reports.

The newspaper notes that Electronic Arts is facing a lawsuit from a group of employees alleging that California law required the company to pay them overtime.


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