Should we unionize?

Subject: Should we unionize?
From: Steve Jong/Lightbridge <Steve_Jong/Lightbridge*LIGHTBRIDGE -at- NOTES -dot- CREDTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 14:14:13 EDT

Twice now I have watched as most of my fellow writers were laid off from large
only to be brought back as contractors to the same offices and the same tasks,
but lower compensation packages (i.e., no benefits). The first time it
happened to me as well;
the second time I resigned rather than be a party to it.

This practice, popularly called "outsourcing," is a threat to our profession on
many levels.
Outsourcing directly threatens our job security and benefits. (As a head of
family I find this critical;
woe unto you if someone in your family has a pre-existing medical condition!)
Outsourcing does not
benefit our customers -- those who use our information products -- because, as
someone has said,
we are more than interchangeable cogs in some industry-wide writing machine.
Outsourcing is not
really cheaper for the companies that practice it, once you factor in the
turnover rate, the training time,
and the need to clean up handoff mistakes. Most significantly, outsourcing
reveals negative attitudes
toward our profession: that anyone can write, that the highly paid professional
can safely be replaced
by one (or maybe two) new college grads (woe unto you if you live into your
40s!); that someone else
is available to underbid the job; that user information is not core to the
business; and, in the final analysis,
that documentation is no more important to the company than any other service
it chooses to outsource --
building security, janitorial services, or groundskeepers.

In my remarks I do not mean to disparage independent contractors. They
practice an honorable
profession, and I wish them success. But to me, outsourcing is classic worker
and to counteract it I would welcome any source of relief, even unionization.
-- Steve
Steven Jong, Documentation Specialist ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc, 281 Winter St., Waltham, MA 02154 USA
<jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com>, 617.672.4902 [voice], 617.890.2681 [FAX]

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