Re: What is our art?

Subject: Re: What is our art?
From: Kelley <kwalker2 -at- gte -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 12:59:44 -0500

At 05:05 PM 2/19/02 +0000, Rev Simon Rumble wrote:


My first thought on this is that we're explainers, translators even.
We take the time to get our heads around complex ideas that are poorly
explained and make them easier to understand.

Oh, I'll go be unpopular again... why don't people boycott recruiters. Get the STC to raise funds and put a big ad in the paper, "Tired of paying huge rates to recruiters who stink? Feeling trapped? Stop the insanity! Hire your technical communicators by working with us."

The STC or some other org, I don't care, could be like the old waitress agency/unions. These were basically agencies that did what recruiters do, but they used the monies for training. They guaranteed each member to employers and represented waitresses as a group, demanding reasonable pay. Additionally, union dues were a way of pooling money to provide relief during hard times, whether individual or collective (due to "market discipline").

In his book, _JobShift_ (quite popular in the early nineties), William Bridges argued that freelancers were the trend of the future for _most_ of us. As such, there were many positive reasons why this would be a Good Thing. But, there were downsides because going it alone doesn't protect you from the vagaries of the market (the paddle of market discipline). To deal with thatr, Bridges suggested that we really ought to lose the disdain for unions and think of more creative ways to handle the "discipline of the market" other than to just sigh and say, "Well, market forces at work, what can you do?" Someone chastized others for taking jobs at low wages. Hardly productive, but inevitable because the process encourages us to blame one another for something that isn't entirely in or control, not as individuals at any rate.

Instead of some agency making a profit, other techwriters would operate and maintain the union. With modern technology, it doesn't have to look like the top-down hierarchy model of older unions at all. And, the nice thing about other techwriters running this union-agency is that they're working in _techwriter's_ interests, not the agency's, and they're negotiating with employers' with a good, working understanding of what the jobs entail, skill levels, etc. None of the HR buzzword bingo B.S. that agencies play. Not to mention, a union, ideally, would be democratic and open its books up to members, showing where dues monies go, no skimming fees from employers without everyone clearly understanding exactly what the real wage is, etc.

I understand the dangers posed by such organizations, particularly listening to the occasional derogatory murmurings about the STC, but it seems a fair sight more reasonable an approach than to hook your fate to the vagaries of a market that will boost you up when the tide is high and dash you on the shoals when it recedes.


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What is our art?: From: Rev Simon Rumble

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