Does it make sense to join a translators’ association?

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
Adam Smith

For the record: I am a member of the BDÜ, although it’s not easy to join when you start out without credentials.

I wouldn’t say that associations like the BDÜ or the ATA can do much to raise a sinking tide, but their lobbying does improve conditions not just for their members, but also for everyone else.

One example is the BDÜs work to reduce health insurance contributions for freelancers. Do note, they’re not campaigning to improve our social security per se, just to make it cheaper for us.

So lobbying / single-issue campaigning has a bad rep from a labor perspective. Still I think we laborers should organize in every possible (and impossible) way, just like the people who buy or services, be it consumers or capitalists.

Taking as an example reduced health insurance premiums: This means that it becomes easier to “start your own business,” although as a freelancer you’re not really a business, mostly because you carry much more personal and financial risk than some rich heir who’s shielded by a limited liability corporation.

If you go broke, you won’t have savings, so the public will pay for you, and you should compensate the public for this risk by paying at least your own full share to the mandatory health insurance.

No wonder that politically professional associations lean more towards liberalism (FDP) than socialism. Also, agency owners may join the BDÜ, although it’s nominally a translators’ organization.

So we’re in the same situation as prostitutes / sex workers, whose main employment type is disposable…err… freelance and whose main lobby organization is criticized for being funded by male brothel owners, while nominally the association only allow women to join.

Comparing prostitution to other freelance work actually has some merit, because it takes out the moral question. There’s nothing morally wrong with freelancing – or is there?

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