Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals
and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes their Lives

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) by Jeff Schmidt

Summer 2001
(published by the
National Association
of Science Writers)

ScienceWriters reprinted the Lingua Franca article
and added this sidebar . . .

Physics Today Firing of Jeff Schmidt Draws Protests

The firing of Jeff Schmidt, who had been an articles editor at Physics Today for over 19 years, has prompted a flurry of letters of protest by physicists, science writers, scholars, and educators. MIT linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky helped solicit more than 140 signatures on one letter alone. Another letter, signed by 16 former Physics Today staff members, urges AIP Executive Director Marc Brodsky to reverse his decision. Also lending support to Schmidt is the National Writers Union and the University of Maryland, College Park, chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Citing their concern about the precedent that Schmidt's May 31, 2000, dismissal would set for employees everywhere, lawyers at one of Washington's largest law firms (Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky), have waived their fees and are doing what they can to challenge Physics Today's actions, "for the public good." Physics Today has retained what Schmidt calls "the most notorious union-busting law firm in the country" (Jackson, Lewis, Schnitzler & Krupman) to deal with any legal challenges in the case. Schmidt's lawyers have given the National Labor Relations Board affidavits from former Physics Today science writers who openly did personal writing in their offices but were not punished. But so far the NLRB has failed to see the disparate treatment as illegal. Schmidt is not surprised. He notes that the law generally favors employers, and so he believes that his best chance for justice is support from fellow science writers, physicists, and others.