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Subject:RE: STC is broken From:<richard -dot- melanson -at- us -dot- tel -dot- com> To:<Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> Date:Tue, 29 Apr 2008 11:28:30 -0400
"Unions don't seem to apply in situations where the "members" work in onesies and two-sies at thousands of different companies."
Very good point, I never thought of that.
From: McLauchlan, Kevin [mailto:Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 11:19 AM
To: TEI Melanson, Richard
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: STC is broken
On Behalf Of richard -dot- melanson -at- us -dot- tel -dot- com said:
> Maybe the STC should take a note or two from Unions. I am not saying
> become a Union, but benchmark some of the successes of Unions and
> implement them for us. Bottom line, power in numbers and there are a
> of Technical Writers out there!
Is there a union for corner-store employees? Chip-wagon cooks?
Unions don't seem to apply in situations where the "members" work in onesies and two-sies at thousands of different companies.
Unions seem to work for public [dis]servants, for workers in industries where hundreds or thousands are employed per location or per employer (auto workers [though that might be less viable an example these days...], electrical workers, employees of big chain stores, dock workers, etc.
I think it's a matter of concentration.
You might be thinking of a guild.
Doctors and lawyers don't often work in groups of hundreds or thousands, but their guilds regulate them (a little) and keep their clubs exclusive (sorta), and collude with government, thereby keeping membership numbers controlled and prices up.
For example, in my province (in Canada) the medical association just graciously "permitted" a new medical school to come into existence.
The other side of that is that they've been NOT permitting some/many to come into existence. This, in a province and a country that is becoming desperately short of doctors. Here in the land of socialized medicine, a large (and rapidly increasing) percentage of the population does not have a family doctor, simply because there are not enough licensed doctors to go around. Instead, people use the hospital Emergency room for every medical need, or they go to walk-in clinics (where they rarely see the same doctor twice... but at least some records are kept... but they don't always go to the same clinics because.... )
Clinics are closing, or are going on reduced operating hours because they can't find doctors to work the time-slots. Lots and lots of our doctors (including my own GP) are foreign-born and foreign-trained, but _many_ foreign-born, foreign-trained doctors are working as taxi drivers or other occupations because they are not permitted to practice medicine in this place that is so desperately lacking doctors.
Between government (that gives them the clout to enforce) and the medical association that does the enforcing, the number of doctors is kept artificially low. The newly arrived doctors from India, Malaysia, Arab counties, Eastern Europe, etc. are not permitted to become Canadian doctors. Part of the excuse that's given is that their skills need to be harmonized with the Canadian medical standards of practice... but there are not enough resources to process most of the applicants. But the lack of resources lies directly at the doorstep of the /g/u/i/l/d/ Medical Association that sets the numbers of med-school seats, the number of med schools that can be accredited, the number of programs and personnel that can mentor and supervise immigrant doctors until they get up to speed.
That kind of power and impunity can exist only when you've got government in your corner, supplying the legal clout to make your /g/u/i/l/d/ association pronouncements carry the force of law. The results are kinda harsh, when the turnaround time for a change of priorities is a matter of years or decades.
So, STC (or some other techwriter guild) would need to get government on-side in order to set quotas and price guidelines that could be enforced on the hundreds of thousands of companies that employ us in onesies, twosies, and small groups. They'd also need to enforce requirements for our services. Unlike engineers, we provide services that can be dispensed with, or that can be offloaded to non-professional, non-accredited techwriters... unless the law says that any product that is sold must be accompanied by documentation that carries the <STC?> seal of approval... having been created by <STC?> accredited writers. Of course, that kind of requirement would drive even more production offshore. Unlike the provision of medical services, product development and production can be done very far away from the people who eventually purchase the product.
Part of the problem is that, like engineers who are notoriously varied and independent, techwriters are also notoriously varied and independent. Getting us all, or mostly, behind such an organization would be much like herding cats. At best, we'd end up like engineers (though more junior due to the less rigorous training that we need), having standards and some organization, but not the kind of control that medical associations have to control supply, and thereby control (to some extent) prices and working conditions.
Or, that's how I see it anyway.
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