What makes us competitive? (was Re: Rates)

Subject: What makes us competitive? (was Re: Rates)
From: Deborah Ray <debray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 08:55:22 -0600

> -- On Mon, 10/25/10, Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca> wrote:
> From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
> Subject: Re: Rates
> To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Date: Monday, October 25, 2010, 8:21 PM
> Don't take this the wrong way, Keith, but that logic is flawed. To
> accept a poverty wage just because you need work makes it difficult
> for the entire industry to remain competitive.

I wouldn't consider $20-something an hour to be "poverty wages"--
not in general, and especially not in this economy. Is it less compensation
than Keith can offer a company in return? Most certainly. Is the compensation
less than ideal? Yes. But there's nothing wrong with taking a contract that
keeps you fed, keeps a roof over your house, and maybe keeps your Internet
connected for further job hunting.

I have worked for low wages or no wages many times over the years,
and I'm proud of it. If I didn't--and if Eric didn't at times--TECHWR-L
would never have come to be or survive for 17 years. I don't think
anyone could accuse us of hurting the industry by working for free
or low wages as needed to keep the TECHWR-L resource afloat.

For that matter, the dozens of authors who have written articles
for the TECHWR-L Web site have done so for pennies on the word.
Why do they choose to write for pennies on the word? You'd have
to ask them...but I can tell you how very skilled these folks are, how
much more money they're really worth, and how invaluable their
material is to the community and RayComm. All of that could describe
Keith as well....

I've also taken contract jobs for much less than $20-something an
hour. As a result, there are schools that have new safety programs
in place, well documented with learning materials for the kids as well.
There are also very worthwhile non-profit organizations that have
marketing materials to help them reach more people than they
could before.

I've taught technical and professional writing at three universities
for low wages. Teaching others to be better communicators and
writers--so that they can better contribute in the workplace--is some
of the most satisfying work I've ever done.

I don't think any wage--high or low--is what makes the "entire
industry...competitive." It's not even having certain skills or a
specialization or a degree. What makes us competitive, I think,
is being able to apply skills and knowledge effectively, taking the
effort to foster all kinds of relationships, being able to give and take,
helping out in other areas, being proactive, solving problems, taking
the initiative, and having the ability to create win-win situations.

What do you think keeps "the [tech writing] industry...competitive,"
in the short- and long-term?

TECHWR-L: Empowering Technical Writers Since 1993


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Re: Rates: From: Keith Hood

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