Bubblegum's crisis...
Dear Mad Elf,
I've been working for some time with a group of professionals. We do assorted work in the Seattle area for various corporations. The only problem is, I do most of the work. As the security and computer specialist for our team, I end up doing 80-90% of each job, and often I take most of the physical abuse when we encounter resistance, too. But when I try to negotiate for more money/compensation for myself, my associates get angry. They insist that none of us are more important than the other, and I don't think I'm getting a fair cut. They're a talented team, though, and I don't want to cut off our business relationships. What should I do?
Mad Elf replies...
Hmm. This would appear to be a demarcation issue at base. Given your group's line of work, you
should end up doing most of the job most of the time, as the others are really only there in case something goes wrong. Let's face it, though, something always goes wrong with these delicate intrusions; and when it does, it's time for you to take the back seat and let the combat specialists deal with it. If you're getting caught in the line of fire so often, they must be falling down on the job. They're getting paid to take flak, you're not. Of course, they may say that you should wear heavier armour, but anyone with any sense would realise that an infiltration expert can't encumber hirself with protective devices.
I can tell you one thing: you're not going to get more of a cut than you already are. People just aren't like that, and your desire to stick with your current group makes it a little difficult to resolve. There are, however, a few other ways you could alleviate the problem:
  • There are always extra little pieces of information, cash or interesting pharmaceuticals lying around places. As you are likely to be first into many secure areas, what's to stop you making a little extra on the side from them?
  • Does the group pay for medical (and other) expenses before the cut is made? If not, you should suggest it to them, as it will relieve some of the problem - although I would not recommend that ammunition and similar consumables be included in this arrangement. ECM equipment, yes; grenades, no: otherwise some trigger-happy idiot will realise he's on to a good thing and everyone's cut will suffer.
  • If you have much spare time, you could always moonlight. The odd minor burglary could be very lucrative, and nowhere near as risky as the big jobs your team do. If you want, you could always ask one of the others to lurk around the target site to pull you out if necessary, but I wouldn't cut them in for more than 20%.
  • You could always go freelance. This would allow you to work with your current associates as before, but it would also mean you could refuse jobs that sound too risky, work with others, and (best of all) name your own price.
On the other hand, there is one solution which would almost certainly get you a larger cut and allow you to stay with your group, but it would involve a fair amount of work on your part.
I would suggest that you get in touch with as many people in your line of work (and perhaps some closely-related lines) as possible. Meet with them, and come to some agreement with them on what pay levels, benefits, perks and working conditions you would like. Give yourselves a good-sounding name (possibly including the word 'Guild', 'Association' or 'Union'). Inform all the groups you and your associates work for of your desires, and if they don't like them, go on strike.
If handled carefully, you could end up being an important founding member of a continent-spanning organisation, with training programmes, medical insurance, retirement benefits and so on, regulating the pay and conditions for almost all the workers in your field. Not a bad aim for an ambitious, talented person like yourself.
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