RE: Technical Writing Union

Subject: RE: Technical Writing Union
From: Michele Marques <MarquesM -at- autros -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 14:48:59 -0500

Bruce Byfield write:
> I've belonged to several unions, and been a grievance steward
> and Chief Steward, and I would seriously consider joining a
> tech-writer's union if one existed. Unions are far from
> perfect, but, in my experience, even a bad union (such as a
> big, international one in which locals have little control)
> is often preferable to not having one at all. In fact, I've
> often thought that high-tech workers in general might benefit
> from a union, given the expectations of unpaid over-time and the like.

This depends on whether you are in the appropriate union. At least at one
point in Ontario, the labour laws were such that if there was a union at
your company, and you were not unionized, they could pretty much force you
to be part of their union.

Thus, when I worked at York University at the Computer Helpdesk, and then as
a Techwriter/Software Trainer, I had to belong to the same union as
secretaries, photocopy clerks, etc. If the computer personnel had thought
proactively at the time the union was being formed, they could have formed
their own separate union, but once they were absorbed by the general staff
union, a majority vote by the entire union would be needed to form a
separate union.

Did that union help the computer professionals? Maybe when dealing with
grievances. But when the union and management worked out a new pay scale
EVERY SINGLE COMPUTER POSITION was determined to be overpaid. Oh, yes, and
the union also negotiated for us that nobody could be given a promotion;
there had to be a new position posted to which any union member could apply.
The best person for the job could not necessarily get it; the most senior
person who met the posted requirements had to be given the position.

Sorry, but I've done much better without a union.

- Michele
Michele Marques, Technical Communicator
AUTROS Healthcare Solutions, Inc.
marquesm -at- autros -dot- com <mailto:marquesm -at- autros -dot- com>

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