Competitive or Underpaid?

I have been wondering whether or not I should write this post but now that the question is burning a hole in my mind, how can I not? At least let me rant a bit.

Anyway, some time ago, mom told me this fact about another guy working for the same company we are currently working for. This guy gets paid $0.70 per word translated into Russian. Yet, we are only getting paid $0.05 per word we translate into Chinese. How is that even fair? Chinese is as tough of a language as Russian, how come we are getting paid so much less? Is it competition? Or is the company underpaying us?

Mom often says that it’s because Chinese work ethics. They are often willing to work for lower wages if it meant they have the job. Still, though, this is not China. Doesn’t that mean that we should get paid fairly?

Oh, I almost forgot another thing. A few weeks ago, I agreed to a last minute live interpretation assignment. The company agreed to pay me 10 hours no matter how many hours I worked. When they found out I only did 8 hours, they immediately slashed 2 hours! I was speechless at that point. Inside, I was thinking like but you told me the terms! How can you change it now?!

It made me very angry and frustrated but apparently I wasn’t the only one. Two weeks ago, the company sent mom a quick translation assignment (a death certificate) which mom thought she’d earn some extra quick bucks translating it into Chinese. Here were their email dialogues:

The company: Can you do it in 5 hours?
Mom: 5 hours? That’s $75, reasonable. What about the words?
The company: $0.05
Mom: (considering…)

15 minutes later
The company: Can you do it in 2 hours? We’re in a hurry.

You see what I mean? They changes mind faster than even mom! Unbelievable, right?

That’s not all. I’ve saved the best for last. Mom once told me that the people sitting in the office ordering us around, earns $70,000 to $80,000 a year. Doing WHAT? That was my initial reaction. They are just sitting around looking at the computer while we are hard working at home day and night, sometimes even go overtime. How much do we earn? $15 an hour, minus taxes, about $11 or $12 an hour.

I’ve got to admit, it’s still more than minimum wage. I’ll tell you that and the fact that my hours are flexible and I don’t need to drive around. But still, we are both doing the same thing, how come they get paid so much more than us?

(**sigh**) At least it’s better than nothing. At least, it gives me the ability to afford something on my own like getting my own groceries and getting my control over something like the internet. I guess I shouldn’t rant so much about being underpaid. Maybe I should be thankful? Hmm.

Thanks for listening.

5 thoughts on “Competitive or Underpaid?

  1. Feeling as if you’re being underpaid or overworked can be incredibly frustrating. I can definitely emphasize with you. The best advice I can give is to go over all the company rules/policies/manuals and get EVERYTHING you’re told to do by the company in writing. If the company says they are going to pay you for 10 hours of work and it’s in writing they have to honor that (this is assuming they have not included a loop hole in their rules/policies/manuals.)
    Also, as unfortunate as it is I’m guessing wages are based on number of available translators. My mom translates Spanish for a company in Ohio so she’s paid quite well. However,if she were to apply for that same job in California my guess is that she would be paid minimum wage simply because of the abundance of Spanish speaking people here. It’s sad because in a perfect world I would like to think people would be paid based on work ethic and the quality of their product rather than the number of people there are available to complete the job.


    1. I completely agree. I don’t even think I can get this kind of translator job if I was in California. Working for this company also taught me that in the future, I should ask for the term written out on a paper instead of just a verbal contract. The fault of trusting a friend, I guess.


  2. You are definitely underpaid. The Fair Labor Standards Act says you must be paid a fair wage for work done. You have to be treated fairly and unbiased. That goes for your pay. It’s up to you to make them aware that you are looking for a fair wage–fair treatment. However, if you think they’ll let you go just for asking for a fair wage and you want to keep your job then you have to grin and bear it. You see, this is what labor unions used to do for their members, otherwise employers can do whatever they want. You have a conundrum Ying. Good luck. Lucy


    1. You’re right, if I want to continue to be employed, I will have to put on a smile and bear with it. It’s not a bad sum but I just don’t feel fair that the people sitting in that office doing nothing and are earning so much more than me. This is such a conundrum. Thanks for dropping by.


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