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Poll: Do you think translators should form a union?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:08
SITE STAFF
Jan 25

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think translators should form a union?".

This poll was originally submitted by Richard Levy. View the poll results »



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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:08
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No - too complicated Jan 25

I was involved in TAALS - The American Association of Language Specialists - back in the day. TAALS and AIIC were very effective at fighting for working conditions for interpreters. Unlike AIIC, TAALS was open to translators as well as interpeters. We quickly realized that the case for translators was a tricky ball of wax and we were never able to move forward.

I was also involved in a couple of other union-like initiatives that came to naught. I think the best we can do is work together in a multifaceted professional association.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:08
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Theoretically, yes Jan 25

I think it would be a good idea, albeit difficult to achieve effectively.
Other freelance professions have formed unions. I'm thinking of the National Union of Journalists and Equity (for actors). I think there's one for musicians too. I imagine writers, actors and musicians are just as unruly as translators - perhaps even more so.


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Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:08
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Not too plausible Jan 25

I think a non payment database or collection agencies would work better. Looking at blue board there are significant number of "overrated" part timers who gets into trouble and still asked for payment.
Forming a union, a greater part of time will be spent for evaluating such troubles and probably less for decent cases.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:08
Spanish to English
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Other Jan 25

What for?
There are already several organisations purporting to represent translators and similar, invariably for a fee.


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Mona El-Shazly  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 11:08
Member (2016)
Arabic to English
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Yes Jan 25

Yes they form a union to defend their rights

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Whatever Jan 25

I fear such a union, like ProZ, would focus on the average translator, which I am not, and just preserve the status quo.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
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Agree entirely Jan 25

neilmac wrote:

What for?
There are already several organisations purporting to represent translators and similar, invariably for a fee.


Back up the associations that already exist. More unions and institutions will just mean more subscriptions to pay, and more meetings to attend (or ignore). They will be perceived as pulling in different directions, and will not be effective.

If you are energetic enough for union activity, fire up under the existing 'unions'!

[Edited at 2017-01-26 00:34 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:08
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
For what? Jan 25

Well, bruvvers, I don't think we're unified enough to secure a sound base for solidarity and collective bargaining.
Personally, if there were such a union and we chose to down tools and go on strike - apart from the logistic impossibility of the proposition - there would still be lots of scabs out there willing to slave away for the lowest fees going and weaken our position even further.

Like Chris, I think that my specialist presence would be whittled away in the need to conform to and comply with a 'middle-of-the-road majority' - rather like watering down a 30-year-old malt whiskey. IMHO


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:08
Member (2008)
English to Italian
NO Jan 25

I agree with Chris and Julian

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 04:08
German to English
+ ...
for * freelance * - dunno Jan 25

I work freelance, and I think that is common among translators. Unions have to do with employees and employers. Since as a freelance professional I tell customers what my fee, turnaround time, terms and conditions etc. are, how can there be a union for that. You are your own boss.
The other problem is that we are communicating here internationally. I can't see how that would work.
I've edited my original post because I just saw reference to a union for freelance writers and actors. I'm curious how that works, and if it's under the same kinds of circumstances. Like for example, were the writers not able to stipulate their own fees if they were freelance, and if so, why not? Is that union national or international?

[Edited at 2017-01-25 18:05 GMT]


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 19:08
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
We do have a union for translators in Australia Jan 25

To be more accurate, it represents other occupations as well but translators can become members. The fees are quite high as far as I remember and to be honest I can't see a point. I agree with Chris - it is aimed at the average translator or rather interpreter in Australia's case.

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Elina Sellgren  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:08
Member (2013)
Finnish to English
+ ...
There are unions already Jan 26

In Finland, we have a professional union for professionals in the field of translation, for both those who are employees and those who are freelancers/companies. In addition, we have an association that organises training events and so on. The difference is that the former can offer unemployment benefits to employee members who become unemployed and it can defend their rights as a united front, whereas an association cannot.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:08
Member (2006)
German to English
No Jan 26

What for? We are self employed. I could understand this questio being directed at in-house employees, but who on earth is going to enforce a company in the US paying me here in DE?

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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 11:08
Member (2005)
English to German
In Germany, Jan 26

you can join ver.di as an employed translator, and I'm not even sure if that is the only union open to translators.

My personal experience was that the unionized translators were constantly trying to get the better of their non-unionized colleagues inside the same company, but maybe that was a one-off experience and it was just the ones with iffy personalities who happened to be the ones who decided to join the union.


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