RE: Technical Writing Union

Subject: RE: Technical Writing Union
From: MMcCallister -at- ontrack -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 12:53:55 -0600

Bruce is largely correct on the reasons for the anti-union sentiment here on the list. Meg Ehr asked about what unions can do, specifically, for tech writers.

First, in general terms, when you are organized, you have what the AFL-CIO calls "A Voice at Work." The old song asks the question "But what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one? But the union makes us strong." I could wax rhapsodic about a democratic workplace and such, but I won't.

I do have a concrete example, though. One that may apply to many of you. (Caveat: I may not have all the details perfect here, but someone can correct me) California strengthened its anti-forced-overtime, 40-hour week law earlier this year. The high-tech industry association went into high gear to get an exemption for itself. The National Writers Union BITE group worked to stop the exemption (some of us actually believe the 8-hour day is something we'd already won!). Legislators argued that the only people they were hearing from were industry leaders and tech writers! Professional organizations representing engineers, etc., couldn't be persuaded to defend their members in this way. So guess what: the industry got their exemption--except they couldn't force overtime on their technical writers!

Unions are neither a business, nor a "job insurance" company (much less a criminal organization). The benefits are not automatic (except for the dignity that you can often get for free), but depend on what you're willing to fight for.

Guess I've de-lurked. I was gone for a long while from this list, but I've been back for a week now. Good to be here.

Mike McCallister
Member-at-large, National Writers Union

-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Byfield [mailto:bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com]

I think it has more to do with people who have had little contact with unions, view themselves as professionals, have a pro-business attitude, or all three.

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