RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 12:27:26 -0600

Laura Lemay wrote:

> This is the tech writer and web designer clause that the National
> Writer's Union fought to add to the 2002 computer professional section
> of CA labor law. Tech writers are supposed to be explicitly
> in California. They almost never are.
> This is the core of the the Hoenemier lawsuit.

Gene Kim-Eng replied:

> I've never worked for a computer software company,
> so I haven't given this definition of "exempt" a close
> reading. I guess it explains why software technical
> writers complain so much about being treated like
> "glorified secretaries." Comparing this description to
> the other job types listed in section 5, they are.

I've worked _only_ for software and software+hardware companies. And I'm
really glad I'm not in California and don't have the National Writers'
Union "protecting" me.

My tech writing career has included long stretches as an independent
contractor (not an agency employee) and as a corporate "wage slave." As
a contractor, I billed only for time actually spent on the client's
project, but I billed for every minute of it.

As an employee (salaried/exempt), I worked long days and weekends when
necessary to meet a deadline. But I also took off early or came in late
when I had an appointment, had long lunches with the team to celebrate
milestones or say goodbye to a departing colleague, and spent time
learning new skills or reading interesting stuff that wasn't immediately
applicable to work.

I haven't had an employer who made unreasonable overtime demands or who
begrudged me the "slack time" when the schedule permitted it. If I had,
I'd have found a new job or a contract assignment and then quit (in that
order). In both contracting and employment, I've looked for (and
generally found) relationships based on mutual respect. I take pride in
providing them with good value for their money, and they treat me as a
valuable asset and a trusted team member. If that weren't the case, I
wouldn't stick around long.

As for those of you who can't handle that much responsibility for your
own success and happiness, who need to be "protected" from
"exploitation" by the National Writers' Union or the Dept. of Labor, and
who don't mind punching a time clock and being viewed as clerical help:
Please call yourselves documentation specialists, documentalists,
typers, or some such, so that you don't drag us salaried professional
technical writers down to your level.



Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Eric J. Ray
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Rob Hudson
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Laura Lemay
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Laura Lemay
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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