Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 12:52:24 -0700

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
> The OT pay itself does not. The consequences that
> will are that most companies will tell writers to go home
> at quitting time with the admins and clerical staff rather
> than pay it, and engineers seeing writers do this while
> they are salaried employees with no OT will further
> reinforce the existing tendency to view writers as
> nonprofessionals.
>
> The real issue is a lack of parity between employees
> whose work is of equivalent complexity and requires
> equivalent education, experience and skills. Writer
> positions in a publications group I manage have
> education, training and experience requirements that
> are on a par with those of an engineer and their ranks
> and salary grades are the as well.

Where high standards and quality concerns prevail,
technical writing is able to put those credentials to
good use. It isn't overkill to send an engineer
on a writing assignment. Depending on the nature of the
project, it might folly not to send an engineer. It might
even be a good way to acculturate a new engineering team
member. So, I do think there are regions of tech writing
that are and should be equivalent to engineering positions.

> I wouldn't be a
> publications manager for a company that saw its
> technical publications group any differently; why
> would you want to be a writer for one?

I will be forever amazed that business settles for less.
It seems like many employers don't believe that quality
of documentation product is a real issue. My expectation
of finding a focus on quality, when I go looking for work
in my region's main product (software), is all but extinct.

You don't have that experience, Gene, and frankly I wish I
didn't either. It is exceptionally disgusting to me to work
in cesspools of bad planning, but that's where software, the big
employment sector around here, seems to thrive.

I tried working in aviation once--got a little backwater project
that turned out to be about software. It was a cesspool. The guy I
shared my cubie with, an FTE, usually came back drunk from long lunches.
My SME had quit by the time I started the project--I spent months going
on what I'd learned from him during my interview. I completed my project
on time, but was so sick of the workplace that I split and went
immediately back to software, where I was at least qualified to work
with industrious people. The only thing I find worse to work with than
bad planners is bureaucrats who can and will make anything, including
accountability, disappear.

I guess I'd rather work frantically toward mirages (deadlines that will
nearly always be forced back due to bad planning) than to learn to work
in all the bluff and bluster of a classic bureaucracy. But what I
secretly lust after is work in a factory, where real tools are used to
make real parts. Aircraft wiring harness production is my irrational
dream niche, down on the factory floor, far from the offices and
cubies--wiring diagrams are like fun to me. But aircraft manufacturing's
ups and downs mean attrition is the usual active principal governing the
headcount of those teams. I think maybe in another lifetime, I'll figure
out how to get work like that.

<Depressed sigh>.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Eric J. Ray
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Rob Hudson
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Jodie Gilmore
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Janice Gelb
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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