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Subject:National Writer's Union (way too long) From:Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com> To:Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Wed, 28 Jun 2000 11:36:28 -0700 (PDT)
I got some really "supportive" private email about my crack against the
National Writer's Union (NWU)
So naturally - I'll pontificate:
DISCLAIMER: I own a recruiting and consulting company therfore my bias is
NWU's biggest problem is that its ideals are wholly out of line with 21st
century economics and the realities of today's high-tech job market.
On their web page regarding contractors and recruiters they quite bluntly say:
all recruiters are slime and are ripping you off. They also make it clear where
their agenda is: collective coercion. They want to batter the industry via
governmental lobbying and 1960's era terrorism into accepting their values.
The problem with the NWU is broken down into four issues:
1. The high-tech industry has wholly rejected the notion of unionization. The
rapid evolution of technologies and dependence on highly-skilled, professionals
makes unions totally unattractive to technology companies. The government has
mostly sided with the technology companies on this issue.
2. Recruiting and contracting is an outgrowth of incompetence and litigation,
not the infernal greed of corporate America.
3. Combative organizations with political aspirations are a big turn-off to
high-tech companies that wish to avoid entanglements with the government or any
4. Freelancing is intended to be a person freely selling their services to
buyers. There is zero incentive for companies to work with any collective group
when there are vast numbers of qualified, business savvy individuals who are
willing to work independently.
I am all for any group that encourages people to work independently. But the
NWU wants to make the contracting and consulting process an "us-vs-them" class
struggle. This notion is simply absurd in today's global, (nearly) free
marketplace. The NWU is trying to apply 1960s era liberalism to 21st century
era libertarianism. It is a joke to even try.
Furthermore, the root cause of contracting and recruiting in the market today
is not greed - it is incompetence and lawsuits.
Incompetent people who manage to slither along barely holding on to jobs
because employers are afraid to fire them continue to miselead people and get
jobs they do not deserve. To a growing corporation an incompetent person in an
key position can ruin your profitability and kill the entire company.
If corporations could fire incompetent people without the fear of lawsuits, you
wouldn't see the current agency situation. Litigation by greedy, incompetent
people has terrorized high-tech companies and forced them to seek a
middle-layer to protect them - hence recruiters and contracting.
Furthermore, corporations are not always pleased with recruiters either. They
know it costs more per hour to hire a contractor from a firm. However, that
firm isolates them legally, saving them from lottery-lawsuit happy jerks. That
$25 an hour is worth it, if they can avoid one or two lawsuits where they have
to pay off some moron.
When people learn to respect and master the order of a profit based economy,
then we might be able to improve things. Not every writer can make $195 an
hour and work 3 hours a day from home writing their deep thoughts on the
documentation methodologies. Somebody has to sit their ass down and bang out
decent documentation about esoteric technologies.
If people could learn to negotiate fairly and be responsible for doing their
jobs, recruiting and contracting wouldn't be necessary. If people could accept
the dread fact that YES, YOU MUST WORK, then things might be okay. The problem
starts when a barely competent person thinks he/she is "above" doing any real
work. Then they join these unions which harbor people who always have excuses
for NOT working.
Recruiters exist because there is too many jobs, too many morons, and too many
NWU seems to think the answer is some "grassroots" boycott, hate "The Man" type
of hippy radical thing will force companies to accept their idea of perfect
equality. Why on earth would any company listen to this crap when there are
mountains of intelligent, fair-minded people willing to work for a decent wage,
do a good job, and not have to make some pointless political statement.
The whole gist of the New Economy is more freedom, more responsibility, more
reward for hard work. The New Economy is reinventing the American Dream that
if you work hard and play the capitalism game, you will be rewarded with good
pay. The era of "Great Society" LBJ style communism is dead. It died with the
Berlin Wall. Democracy, freedom, and capitalism won!
Yes, some companies take advantage of naive individuals. Yes, it is bad when
this happens. But who's fault is it? Is the company to blame - yes to some
extent and they should be punished. But so is the individual by allowing
him/herself to be taken advantage of. The individual must take some
responsibility for his/her life and career. Risk is an important part of
reward. If you remove all risk, then there are no rewards.
If the NWU wanted to really help, it could get off the whole unionizing crap
and start helping writers be better business people. Teach them how to sell
their services, negotiate fairly, and learn the skills that are in demand. It
could develop realistic and fair guidelines for working with recruiters and
contract agencies that both respect the needs of the individual and the need
for these companies to make a profit.
Any plan, any organization that does not embrace the profit-centric reality of
today's marketplace is a fundamentally flawed entity that will be rejected by
those with the money.