Position Statement on Employee-Employer Disputes

Should IEEE’s Ethics and Conduct Committee get involved in these situations

17 November 2015

I am a life senior member as well as a member of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology and served on its Ethics Committee during the 1990s. I also served from 1996 to 1998 on the IEEE Member Conduct Committee, now called the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee (EMCC). My articles on ethics have been published in The Institute, SSIT’s Technology & Society Magazine, and other IEEE society publications.

Since around 1999, unofficially, and since 2005, officially, there has been a restriction placed on the EMCC to not get involved in employee-employer disputes. This restriction is contained in the EMCC Operations Manual.

I believe this restriction to be in violation of IEEE's Governing Documents, which include: IEEE Bylaws and Policies statements, the intended practice of the Member Conduct Committee from 1978 to 1998, ethical support case precedents including the BART, Virginia Edgerton and Salvador Castro (each recipients of the SSIT Barus Award), the legislative intent of the original authors of the EMCC Discipline and Ethical Support procedures (which I led the writing of in 1977), and Article 10 of the IEEE Code of Ethics. In effect, this restriction has denied IEEE members their right to receive ethical support from IEEE since at least 1999.

As a result of just recently learning about this, I have written a position statement that shows how this restriction violates the sources I cited above. I ask you to review this statement and also answer several questions I have posed so that collectively an effort may be applied to rescind the restriction on the EMCC.

Walter L. Elden is a life senior member.

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