RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II)

Subject: RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II)
From: "Tammy Van Boening" <Tammy -dot- VanBoening -at- healthlanguage -dot- com>
To: "Geoff Hart" <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>, "techwr-l List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Dan Goldstein" <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 09:11:12 -0600

As an officer in my local STC chapter, I received this email about the
TW lawsuit directly from the STC:

STC's Policy to Decline Public Comment on Pending Lawsuits


STC has been contacted about a pending lawsuit between current and
former technical writers and Sun Microsystems. This case revolves around
the issue of whether or not technical writers are exempt or nonexempt
employees.

Regardless of the merits of the case on either side, STC's attorney
advises against commenting on matters pending litigation. This includes
declining to provide names of members to comment on pending litigation.

Therefore, if you are contacted to comment or asked to give names of
individuals for interviews, please cite the policy, decline to comment
and do not provide names for interviews. Also, please communicate the
policy to anyone who has a position of responsibility within your
chapter (i.e., member of the administrative council, PR, Employment
Manager and so forth) to avoid any individual with an official STC title
commenting on the case.

Thank you very much.


I am just wondering - legally, does STC have a leg to stand on this last
request, specifically in regards to providing an interview? I am locally
elected officer in an at will public professional group. As long as I
specifically state the opinions are mine and do not reflect the STC's in
any way, I don't see how legally they can make this request of members
- membership and serving your local chapter doesn't seem to give STC the
blatant right to censure what one says.

I am curious as to your thoughts (Dan, Bill, Geoff, etc.) on this as
everyone on this list is so articulate and well-spoken.

Thanks!

TVB

-----Original Message-----
From:
techwr-l-bounces+tammy -dot- vanboening=healthlanguage -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+tammy -dot- vanboening=healthlanguage -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techw
r-l.com] On Behalf Of Geoff Hart
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 8:33 AM
To: techwr-l List; Dan Goldstein
Subject: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II)

Dan Goldstein wondered: <<Even if they *weren't* in financial trouble,
would STC help establish technical writers' legal rights?
Maybe they just don't want to be that kind of professional
association.>>

Just to clarify: I was in no way advocating that STC should step in as a
lobbyist; in this particular case, it's not clear whether advocating to
promote paid overtime is a good thing (i.e., it defends the rights of
technical writers) or a bad thing (i.e., it gives companies one more
reason to cut costs by offshoring). Companies could jump either way, and
it would be a bad thing for STC to be seen as promoting a position that
leads to more offshoring if they guessed wrong. That's probably the real
reason why STC is staying clear of this mess.

Being one of them left-leaning socialist (commie!) Canadians, and thus
an enemy of the U.S. state <gdr>, I predictably have more sympathy for
protecting exploited workers than I do for the companies. My _guess_ is
that companies that understand the value of hiring locally and of our
work won't be pushed into offshoring by such a legal precedent, whereas
those that are already enthusiastically offshoring won't do anything
they aren't already doing. But I could easily be wrong, and wouldn't
willingly advocate for my position when the results won't affect me in
any way but could dramatically affect my American colleagues.

Instead, I'd like to see STC serving as an amicus curiae (assuming
that's the correct term). Such a role specifically places STC in the
role of an "expert witness" that can provide clarification of the true
roles and importance of the profession. It would provide lots of
favorable publicity and establish a precedent in which STC is seen as a
credible authority that should be consulted in such situations.
That could come in very useful in future cases that are less politically
fraught: if STC is seen as credible enough to provide this kind of
advice once, they'll be asked to do so again in the future, possibly in
cases where a more active advocacy role would be helpful.


----------------------------------------------------
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ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
www.geoff-hart.com
--------------------------------------------------
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Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II): From: Geoff Hart

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