Monday, June 23, 2008

(Don't) Let Your Fingers Do The Talking.

From the New York Times:

      BlackBerrys blur the lines between work and play. A recent dispute at ABC News asked: at what point does checking e-mail after hours constitute working overtime?

     Several weeks ago, ABC’s news division presented three new writers with a waiver stating that they would not be compensated for checking their company-issued BlackBerrys after office hours. The waiver prompted some concern, leading ABC to take the BlackBerrys away from the three writers the week of June 9.

     The Writers’ Guild of America, East, and ABC News, which ratified a new contract in December, found themselves in a new quarrel.

     “For years there had been an agreement so the news division wouldn’t pay time-and-a-half overtime to a writer who was checking a BlackBerry for a minute,” Jeffrey W. Schneider, a spokesman for ABC News, said.

     Lowell Peterson, the executive director of the East Coast guild, said the writers are comfortable with the tools of the news trade, but the guild is trying to avoid “the 24/7 workplace.”

     “People are entitled to time off the job,” he said. “BlackBerrys can be liberating; they can help people keep tabs without going into the office. But they can also shackle people to their jobs.”

     A bedside e-mail check is not the issue, he said, but if the employees are writing material and scheduling guest appearances from home, they should be paid for that work.

     To the surprise of both ABC and the guild, the conflict — first reported on Monday by the trade publication Broadcasting and Cable — was detailed in The New York Post and repeated on CNN by the end of the week.

     “It truly was not a big deal,” Sherry Goldman, a spokeswoman for the guild, said in an e-mail message. But it revealed a digital-age dilemma. On CNN, the correspondent Richard Roth suggested that corporations could face legal action for not compensating employees for BlackBerry work.

     But not at ABC, at least for the time being. The sides reached a resolution on Tuesday, Mr. Schneider said in a BlackBerry message.

     I'm not a Luddite anymore. I have a blog, after all.

     But the cell phone and the BlackBerry are the most abused--and abusive--gadgets on the planet. I see groups of people, allegedly together in a social setting, ignoring each other to babble on their phones or--stranger yet--imaginarily alone and fiddling with their tiny little keypads. 

     Some friends and business associates of mine regularly send text messages to my phone.

     If I feel like it, I send them a return message.

     It says, "I don't text."



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