Re: Slave Labor

Subject: Re: Slave Labor
From: "Curtis Brautigam" <bunnies -at- cvns -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 22:47:36 -0400

I have been following this thread about TW pay in India with a bit of
disgust. I find it very hard to believe that some individuals on this
distinguished listserv are willing to express racist and xenophobic opinions
because of fears about job security in the United States. I am particularly
shocked to hear some people go off on technical writers in India, and
particularly their English skills. I have known people from the Indian
sub-continent whose English will put any American to shame. When I lived in
Israel and worked for El Al as a technical writer, I worked with technical
writers who were born and raised in Pakistan (which also used to be part of
British India). Their mother tongue was English, and they spoke and wrote it

As for pay, my pay at El Al was one-third of what it was in my technical
writing jobs in the United States. From having glanced at salaries of
technical writers in countries other than the United States, my overall
impression is that pay is lower across the board (I am willing to be
corrected in this by my non-U.S. colleagues). I do not believe that
technical writing in the United States has become subject to "that great
sucking sound" that other professions are experiencing. It is wrong to
attribute the loss of technical writing jobs in the United States to
relocation to other countries. There are many factors behind the loss of
technical writing jobs in the United States. I believe that the loss of jobs
began with the bursting of the dot-com bubble, and then it followed along
closely with the loss of jobs in the high tech sector as a whole. The loss
of high tech and consequently technical writing jobs is not just a U.S.
phenomenon. The dot-com bust and the subsequent high tech recession in the
United States has affected the high tech sectors in other countries. I know
that Israel has also seen a loss of technical writing jobs; I know of one
technical writer in Israel who experienced being laid off. Thank God he
found another job in three months.

It is not a fruitful exercise to blame foreigners for the loss of U.S.
technical writing jobs. The lost technical writing jobs have not migrated to
countries where technical writers are paid less than they are in the United
States--they have simply vanished (hopefully temporarily). I was laid off
for three months, and I did not blame foreigners for my lost job, although I
worked for a company whose main market was the United States and it was
based solely in the United States.

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