Re: Binding arb clause in new contract--unfair?!

Subject: Re: Binding arb clause in new contract--unfair?!
From: Richard Yanowitz <ryanowit -at- NYCT -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 10:19:03 -0500

At 06:06 AM 3/24/98 -0800, Randy wrote:
>A) The ostensible reason for me to sign the new contract is that the
>original contract was only good for a year. However, looking through the
>original, I don't find any such limitation; rather, it is to be
>considered extendable every six months unless otherwise terminated.

While it will not change the agency's mind, I would point this out for the
record and to discourage them from trying to slip phony excuses past you.
"There really isn't any need to sign a new contract because the original
doesn't refer to expiring after a year but to being extended every 6 months."

>Any advice? I don't know how severely they want to make their binding
>arb clause. I'd settle for something like the language in the original
>contract, which also invoked binding arb but was far less draconian. I'm
>pretty much ready to tell them to take a walk if they don't agree, given
>the good job market for contractors these days. The client is very happy
>with my work and doesn't like the agency either.

This paragraph pretty much tells you what to do. You willingness to leave
gives you great freedom to refuse to get trapped by your anxiety. "I
understand this may be the contract you want, but I'm not comfortable with
it, and I'd rather find a new job than sign it."

Interwoven with that is the client's attitude. The agency almost certainly
won't want to lose the client, and if they know you're going to leave and
the client's happy with you, the agency may suddenly become more flexible.

At some point before actually giving notice, I'd mention to the client that
it looks as though you may have to leave your agency because of the changes
there, and you just want to tell the client how much you'll miss working
for him/her. The client may have ideas about how to keep you.

If you're a member of the National Writers Union, call their NYC or Oakland
office and see if anyone there might have advice on this point. (They are
developing services for, among others, tech writers, who make up an
increasing percentage of the membership.)

Anyway, I'd say you're in a very strong position to take no crap from the

Good luck.

Richard Yanowitz, NYC
ryanowitz -at- bigfoot -dot- com

Freelance writers (including tech writers): join the National Writers Union
Web site:
E-mail: nwu -at- nwu -dot- org

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