Re: Unionizing?

Subject: Re: Unionizing?
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 17:05:20 -0500

<<An employer could not be forced to increase your salary simply by you joining
a union. A union only has power when it has bargained a contract with a
particular employer, or representatives of a certain industry.>>

And how does a Union negotiate to bargain the first contract? By forcing
employees and companies against their will into collective bargaining. At least
here in Quebec, if enough employees vote and accept to accredit a union all
employees are forced to join.

<<Don't forget that along with that higher salary unions negotiate, comes the
expectation that the workers will be more highly qualified, if not the best
qualified candidates for the jobs.>>

Since when? That may be one spin, but eventually any requirements are just to
exclude non-members from being able to compete for jobs.

<<Also, you are never required to join a union for a job. Unless of course the
union has negotiated a contract to include a closed shop clause. And all that
means is that the employer agrees not to hire or employ non-union members.>>

Nice little truism. You're not forced to join unless you're forced to join. In
countries that have freedom of assembly laws, it is hypocritical of unions which
form under the protection of such laws to contravene them with closed shop
clauses. Also, see above. In some jurisdictions you can be forced to join a
union against your will if your shop unionizes.

<<To look at it another way, you would expect to earn more if you have a
professional certification/degree/higher level of experience for what you do
over another who does not.>>

That's how it works already. Isn't it? Where in techwriting are the uneducated
and inexperienced making more than the educated and experienced writers? The
dross and dregs are the first to suffer when hard times come around in
techwriting. All the older more skilled writers on Techwr-l seem to be finding
employment no problem. So who needs the protection of the union? Seems to me
it's the less experienced and less educated.

Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist (probably too late), that's not to
say all unemployed writers are uneducated or inexperienced. Those well educated
and experienced writers that are out of work certainly wouldn't benefit from a
union. A union can't change the economic reality of companies closing and a lack
of new jobs.

<<The union provides the professional certification by policing the industry and
making sure only qualified people get the stamp of approval. They [the
companies] bargain for a better deal based on the fact that you're a better

I'd like some one to name one case in which a company embraced a union in order
to get better workers. <lol>
But what "industry" are union supporters talking about? Techwriting is NOT an
industry. It may be a profession, but certainly not an industry. You can't
unionize a profession across industries and maintain any sort of credibility.
Those industries that require content and quality regulation already have
associations for that purpose (health, legal, and engineering professions for

Even software that does not harm life or limb has a controlling body. The buying
public. Whine about the crappiness of MegaCorpX all you want. If there was added
value in good documentation then the consumer would pay for it and the companies
would see the value/profit in providing it. And indeed, based on consumer demand
for good documentation there is a health market for third-party software manuals
and documentation. Priced and developed to meet market demands.
Besides, as professionals, if I can produce equal product for a lower cost why
should a union or anyone else protect your "right" to a higher income? It's up
to the client to judge whether output is acceptable, not a union panel of
judges. (STC competitions anyone? ;-) )

Who's the client? Anyone who's paying (remember the golden rule).

Eric L. Dunn

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