Developers: Do Not Work for the Trump Administration, You Won’t Be Paid.

Jessie Hempel recently wrote for Backstory that We Need Techies to Work For Trump:

Trump is officially our president. It’s time to get on with things. We must recommit to the future of our democracy, and the hope that it can serve all people better.

This is a resounding call to look past partisanship and focus on working for the American people. The argument, though, does not convince me because I do not see the Trump Administration as an administration that is committing to serving all people better, and if you — as a developer — are enabling this administration to erode civil service within our Republic, then your efforts are eroding our Democracy. Ideology, though, is not my motivation for coming to work in the morning, getting paid is, and any developers should be apprehensive about working for Mr. Trump because the President has not paid thousands of employees to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

As a business owner, Mr. Trump has proved repeatedly that he is not willing to pay for work that he hires contractors to do. Over the last 30 years, dozens of law suits of piled up by contractors that Mr. Trump and his businesses simply never paid: The work was done to the requirements of the job, and Trump’s organizations never paid the contractors. Former President of Trump Tower, Jack O’Connell is quoted in saying:

“Part of how [Mr Trump] did business as a philosophy was to negotiate the best price he could, and then when it came time to pay the bills,” Trump would say “‘I’m going to pay you but I’m going to pay you 75% of what we agreed to.’”

I run a small development firm that has worked with government contracts. We’ve done websites in part with Former First Lady Michelle Obama and the State of New York. I’m no partisan, but if a client has shown repeatedly to not pay for services rendered, I am avoiding that client at all costs — I can’t afford to work for free. Further, if I’ve invested 200 hours of work into a project, I expect to be paid for the 200 hours of work, not 150 hours. As a small business owner, I can’t afford to hire a lawyer when a client like Mr. Trump counter-sues my business or my person for hours that he would owe me. Beyond that, law suits in half-a-dozen states have suggested that getting 75% of what’s owed you from Mr. Trump is being generous.

Trump’s history of not paying his bills is not ancient history either or something he put aside once he decided to run for president. On top of the thousands of contractors not paid in the past, Mr. Trump most recently has been sued by contractors who worked on his newest building in Washington DC, for $200m as recently as December 2016. Beyond these decades of negligence, Mr. Trump has set a political agenda that freezes hiring and wage growth in government offices. This can be understandable from a political budget, as Hempel mentions, the administration should ultimately answer to the people, and the people may not be willing to pay for government hiring.

But this begs the question, as a developer who has to earn a living (and one who can earn a very good living in software development), why would you want to risk working for a client who will likely not pay you when you send them your invoice? If you treat the government like any employer, which a developer should, would you want to go to work for an employer that is freezing wages? Would you want to work for an employer that is laying off thousands of positions? Would you want to work for a company that was recently taken over by a CEO intent on cutting back every department?

Absolutely not.