Discussing Pay

Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 7 months, 2 weeks ago to Business
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I believe that altruism has given the common culture an irrational view of pay, wages, salary, and compensation.

It was always the case that your wages were supposed to be confidential. You could be fired for discussing your compensation with another employee.

Some exceptions did exist. With union contracts, everyone's hourly rates were common knowledge. In fact, knowing that a job with a higher skill level paid more was an incentive to obtain that training to earn that opportunity.

But generally, we were raised or acculturated not to discuss our wages as part of a European aristocratic disdain for money. That disdain led to its reflection: envy. Moreover, Christianity teaches that a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man enters heaven.

Having read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as a teenager 50 years ago, I always held a more rational opinion, a more realistic economic or sociological context. For one thing, the only way that two people can ever be worth (approximately) the "same" is when we reduce their efforts to mechanical repetition. I would be challenged to think of a clerical task that is so reducible. "Bourgeois virtues" brought us a different work ethos.

My view is that my skill set defines my wage rate within some range. And that is pretty well known: the average rate for a technical writer here in Austin is $35 per hour. But, again from the works of Ayn Rand, money per se is not number one with me. As a producer, I am confident that I can always earn whatever I need to live at some comfortable level in a society where people on welfare have color televisions and refrigerators.

I find it amusing and frustrating that when a recruiter asks me how much I want and I say that money is Number Five on my Maslow Hierarchy, they never ask me what the first four are.

Today, I got this from a recruiter seeking to place me at Apple here in Austin for $40 per hour for two months, W-2 without benefits.

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Dear Michael Marotta,

Apex is committed to ensuring that employees earn equal pay for equal work. As such, Apex will not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against employees or applicants because they have inquired about, discussed, or disclosed their own pay or the pay of another employee or applicant. However, employees who have access to the compensation information of other employees or applicants as a part of their essential job functions cannot disclose the pay of other employees or applicants to individuals who do not otherwise have access to compensation information, unless the disclosure is (a) in response to a formal complaint or charge, (b) in furtherance of an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or action, including an investigation conducted by the employer, or (c) consistent with Apex's legal duty to furnish information.

Regards,

Apex
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The times they are a-changin' ...


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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 7 months, 1 week ago
    They make their money on the spread. This pay secrecy is one thing they can to do prevent disintermediation (trying to "cut out the middleman") and to reduce negotiating points for contractors. They employ a lot of kids who haven't thought it through philosophically.

    For the contractor, I wouldn't take the but-she-gets-more tack anyway. I would say you have a higher rate and you'll try to help them out by finding lower rate people. But give them the evidence why they want you, why they should sharpen their pencil (take less spread) b/c if their client goes with another recruiter they get nothing and b/c if you, the contractor, kick ass on the job their client will go with their candidates in the future. I would not say any of the last sentence aloud. Knowing why they don't want to walk away from the deal is important to balance why you don't want to walk. To the recruiter your focus on a) you're excellent and b) if they want cheaper you'll ping your network for that. This worked for me when I was on the contractor side. If you've been at it longer you probably know more than I do.
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    • Posted by  $  7 months, 1 week ago
      There's a lot of ins and outs. As I recall, it was here that I read an "Austrian" comment that the worker who charges less obviously wants the job more. On that basis, depending on how the conversation is going, I will ask if the recruiter is submitting other people at this pay rate, and then offer to do it for less. I know that the client will not see the savings, but that the profit will go to the recruiter, which is the incentive I am looking for, for them to advocate for me a bit more strongly.
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