[biztech-discussion] Re: Moving Forward #2 & White Papers

  • From: Rob Ramer <RobRamer@xxxxxx>
  • To: biztech-discussion@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 08 Jun 2004 23:06:17 -0500

Thanks for your honest post about your doubts about the NWU.  That is an 
honest assessment of the state of some parts of the union.  Hopefully we 
can do something to change that by taking effective action at least in this 
one area.

I also totally agree with you on the visa issue.  One quick way to get 
moving is to study and (I'd recommend endorsing) the political steps that 
CWA has come up with.  But we also need to push on the visa issue.  One 
demand that shouldn't be too hard for even timid Democrats like our 
Presumptive Nominee could agree to is to investigate potential violation of 
visa laws, both in the H-1b and the L-1 areas.  Even pro-outsourcing 
business groups are warning clients of outsourcing to make sure that the 
outsourcing vendors providing labor here in the US have valid visas.  L-1 
visas are notorious.  The L-1 is an executive transfer visa intended to 
allow companies to move highly paid executives from one country to another 
without changing their compensation.  Instead, many of the outosurcing 
vendors have brought in programmers, paid them the wage of their home 
country plus living expenses, and then sent them out on contract.  I do 
believe a serious investigation would turn up lots of violations and raise 
the heat on the outsourcing issue.

Regarding white papers, I have a lot of information and sources on the 
offshoring issue.  Al had suggested developing a one pager plus more 
indepth background info on four topics:
"1.governmental support for offshoring (tax incentives, contracts to 
offshored verdors, and the like)
2.  personal privacy threats of offshoring
3.  threat of offshoring to hi-tech livlihoods
4. Info about existing legislation addressing the governmental support for 
offshoring and the threat to personal privacy.

Bruce is right that there is a lot of information and we could pretty 
quickly pull these pieces together. I have plenty of material regarding the 
privacy and security.  WashTech, especially David Beckman, in Seattle has 
done a lot of work on the legislative angle.  The Economic Policy Institute 
(where member Karen Connor works) is the source on the economic issue and 
probably tax policy stuff.

So once we decide on the approach, and I do think that we are talking a 
couple of weeks to firm this up, not more, a few of us could quickly put 
together some very useful white papers without a lot of effort.

In fact, I'd be happy to start working with anyone who wants to pull 
together the information on the privacy security issue and can provide 
information, contacts if someone wanted to start pulling together stuff on 
the other areas.

This doesn't mean that we'd be running off on our own direction, but rather 
putting information and options together and once we have a committee 
formed we'd already have concrete information and options to make decisions 


At 08:59 AM 6/8/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>I am in a position to do research/write analyses of the impact of
>offshoring on manufacturing and software documentation, to include a
>very personal perspective.
>However, I have a couple of reservations.
>1. I am not willing to work in a vacuum. Are there any active members
>on the East coast? I've been a NWU member for less than a year and have
>not seen any compelling reason to renew my membership. The New Jersey
>local is consuming itself with petty squabbling, and I haven't seen any
>activity posted on the Philadelphia website pertinent to professional
>BizTech ("networking" in barrooms isn't a preferred activity either --
>that's why I quit local STC and IABC chapters).
>I have several years worth of letters-to-the-editor and blog postings
>that have drawn some interesting comments, so I have some ideas where
>in-depth analysis has to go. However, as Samantha has pointed out, good
>ideas (and intentions) aren't enough to create the energy needed to get
>any traction with the issues. Not only is leadership needed, but timely
>critical review of whatever goes in front of the public (and the UAW!)
>under the NWU aegis needs to have a certain amount of membership
>support. Otherwise, I might as well be back on my own writing letters
>and posting opinions on techie blogs.
>2. The NWU is entering the political scene rather late in this
>political game. H-1B visas have terrorized technical writing
>professionals ever since the Y2K panic. H-1B quotas were established by
>the manipulative and possibly corrupt lobbying practices of the ITAA
>and Harris Miller. The results, which we haven't seen the end of yet,
>include "dumbing down" the profession to accommodate ESL writers with
>only paper qualifications, the loss of experienced professional mentors
>to "ageism", stagnation followed by decrease of the hourly rates in
>every industry except pharmaceuticals, a disgusting proliferation
>of "body shops" accompanied by the demise of professional contract hire
>engineering firms, and extremely short-cycle contracts (from an average
>of 2 years to an average of 3 months). Quality in technical writing has
>become a bad joke.
>The disappearance of work resulting from the same management
>incompetence that has created H-1B and offshoring led to homelessness -
>living in the woods and decrepit rooming houses -- twice in my career.
>Offshoring has turned out to be a bonanza, in a way; I have had many
>opportunities to clean up the messes created by this business model.
>Any NWU position that focuses on the offshoring issues while ignoring H-
>1B issues is, in my experience, wasted energy. The folks who have sold
>out the American worker have an extensive arsenal of weapons that we
>cannot ignore (L-1 visas are next).
>I've been "pissing into the wind" for a long time on my own. I had some
>hope, when I joined the NWU, that I would meet other writers who were
>interested in re-creating the professional status of technical writing.
>I can continue to attempt to raise the standards on my own, but I am
>not willing to pay escalating NWU dues for the privilege of pissing
>into the wind.
>Margherite Williams

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