Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
From: John Hedtke <john -at- hedtke -dot- com>
To: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 01:44:51 -0700

At 11:29 PM 5/21/2008, Ned Bedinger wrote:
>John Hedtke wrote:
>>Labor law is a rather sophisticated area of the law these days. It
>>is not "simple" as some seem to believe on the list. This case,
>>regardless of its merits or basis in law, is not "easy." In the
>>last year , the STC has been doing things at the US Federal level
>>to improve the definition of technical communicators in job
>>descriptions, which hasn't been updated since before most of us had
>>even started in this field.
>Hi John--
>This makes me wonder. I expect it is a reference to Sharon Burton's
>efforts to change the Department of Labor definition.

Well, actually, to Rick O'Sullivan's efforts along those lines, but I
believe the goals were roughly the same. I know that Sharon had been
trying things along those lines herself.

>But in my wildest dreams, I hope it is about fixing the Fair Labor
>Standards Act, which is where California and Washington's muddled
>definitions of exempt and non-exempt Software workers flows from, if
>I'm not mistaken (IINM).

I don't know if any of that has been looked at by Rick (who's an
economist) and Susan Burton, but you might care to bring it up with
them after the conference when they've got bandwidth. (We're all in
pre-game right now; life's crazy between banging away at this chapter
during the days, trying to reach the dev team in India in the late
evenings, and squeezing in miscellaneous prep for the upcoming STC
Board meetings where I can. I shall be SO glad to roll off the Board
in a few weeks!)

>You were around the industry and STC in 1990, and so was I, but you
>had achieved star status and access to a lot of back rooms. I wonder
>if I could pick your brain about what was happening then that
>provoked the other Washington establishment to set up the original
>definitions of exempt etc. for software workers? I think it must
>have been an industry initiative to help staunch the flow of money
>out to programmers working 40+hr/week of overtime. Is that your recollection?

I'm going to have to poke the brain and see what I can recall. Right
this moment it's late at night, I just got back from the gym and
pumping iron (the only time I could find to do it today), and when I
say "okay, brain, what was it?", I get sulky noises from the back of my head.

>Later, maybe '97, when the law reached WA, I saw an interview with
>one of the founders, who believed it was WSA
>(Washington Software Alliance, a coalition of Microsoft, IBM, and
>other industry players) who brought these disruptively written laws
>into existence and onto the books. WSA was rich and had access to
>State and US Congress.

That does ring a bell.

>Do you know the real story? Care to share? Anyone besides John?
>[Remember, the sysop here can remail your post anonymously, if
>anyone wants to dish without incurring liabilities).
>I don't mean to ask you for something that crosses the line, so to
>speak. I'm just defiantly curious to know the etiology of this
>problem, Reading FLSA, I fall all over myself when I hit the line
>where they exempt all the big jobs of system analysts and
>programmers and the deep techie people who routinely worked massive
>OT. But then they blithely threw in the words about 'documentation'
>among the deep software skills. That's where I stumble in my
>understanding. Who wrote that anyway?

Don't know, but that's probably knowable. Again, I think this is
something you can bounce off of Rick et al. to good effect.

>Sure, lots of deep techie skills and roles need to have tech writing
>skills too, and their job descriptions contain the words even now.
>But we (the techwriters who do it full time without the deep
>functions) seem to get read into there when convenient. That is
>where California's box label writers become highly skilled exempt
>professionals along with the programmers and analysts. It came from
>FSLA. That's where the state laws flowed from.
>So I'm looking for the history, and a clear idea of the players at
>the time. Are you my SME, John?

Ehhhhhh... ~POSSIBLY~ but I'm going to have to see what I can dredge
up from the vaults.

>BTW, do you remember coming to my house in Crown Hill/Ballard to see
>my Missus (Jane), and you coincidentally brought along a cardboard
>box full of compilers, which you sold me at firesale prices? It was
>circa '92-'94, a pretty long time ago,

Of COURSE I do, you silly boy! How is Jane, how's the wee'un...
who's probably about to graduate HS at this point, actually, and not
nearly so 'wee' any more.

John Hedtke
Author/Consultant/Contract Writer <-- website
Region 7 Director, STC
541-685-5000 (office landline)
541-554-2189 (cell)
john -at- hedtke -dot- com (primary email)
johnhedtke -at- aol -dot- com (secondary email)


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Tim Mantyla
RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Collin Turner
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Susan W Gallagher
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Collin Turner
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: John Hedtke
Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit: From: Ned Bedinger

Previous by Author: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II)
Next by Author: RE: old school
Previous by Thread: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
Next by Thread: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads

Sponsored Ads