Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 31, Issue 28

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 31, Issue 28
From: tom -dot- kohn -at- kodak -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 09:34:04 -0400

The article cited is copyright California Executive  2008 Providence
Publications, LLC. Quoting from the site's "Who we are" information:
"TechNet is the preeminent bipartisan political network of Chief Executive
Officers and Senior Executives of leading U.S. technology companies. Our
members are the nationâs drivers of innovation in the fields of
information technology, e-commerce, biotechnology, venture capital and
investment banking â representing over one million employees.
"TechNet was founded in 1997 by high-techâs leading CEOs to create a
network of the nationâs strongest voices in the industry to unite with
both federal and state leaders in helping to shape the public policies
that impact the technology industries. TechNet continues to actively
promote policies that strengthen the nationalâs innovation-driven global
competitiveness as well as create private sector initiatives that will
ensure U.S. competitiveness and economic leadership."
One glaring mistake I see in the article is the assertion that the class
action against Sun is the first lawsuit of this kind. Not so. Eastman
Kodak settled a similar suit in 2007, and reclassified its technical
writers, graphics artists, and many other professionals to non-exempt
"technician" pay grades. Those subject to reclassification were assured no
loss in pay would occur during the reclassification. However, the grades
were generally limited to T8, for which the ceiling pay range was below
the former salaries of some who were level D43 or higher. A level T9 does
exist, but its access is extremely limited.
Tom Kohn

In reply to:
Message: 102
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 15:59:32 -0700
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Subject: Re: Tech Writer Lawsuit
To: Darcy Rumbold <darcyrumbold -at- gmail -dot- com>
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Message-ID: <483C9254 -dot- 2030607 -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed

Darcy Rumbold wrote:
> Found a new article online regarding this case:
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Two innocuous points from the article seem to support a strategic
objective that I've heard called "plausible deniability", though it may
not be a legal term:

1. "It is standard practice to classify technical writers - who work
with developers and engineers in creating manuals and other
documentation - as exempt, say attorneys on both sides..."

2. "[Sun Microsystems] just got blindsided, and unfortunately are the
first ones," says employment attorney David Faustman, managing partner
of Fox Rothschild LLP in San Francisco. "Sun Microsystems is a quality
company. This is not a scofflaw, fly-by-night operation."

They seem to be preparing to plead ignorance of the law.

And then Sun's lawyer flexes some muscle:

"He says if the plaintiffs were to win this case, and any subsequent
appeal, he would advise his high-tech clients to move their technical
writers out of the state."

At this point, I'm thinking the lawyer is playing much too aggressively
for any deliberative legal process. They're already looking beyond due

Personally, I think Sun's lawyer has implied that the real question is
whether the law can afford to come down on Sun and the software
companies. At stake will not be legal questions, but whether California
can afford to lose the taxes and jobs of Sun's technical writers? Can
Californnia afford to keep those jobs in-state by giving Sun subsidies
or whatever to make up losses awarded in court?

These are backroom issues for the vested interests, not the issues that
will be heard in the trial. It sounds to me like the slightest twitch
will bring big software down around our ears. Maybe we should just
demolish it now, because it so unstable and unsafe, and because is
poised to become a greater liability for the taxpayers who will be asked
to subsidize it, in order to keep it, or bring it, into our state. I
think the spreadsheet that can capture the issues suggested by the
dufense lawyer is going to be very big indeed.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

Thomas G (Tom) Kohn | Technical Editor | GCG WW Versamark Engineering
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