500 signatures reached
To: Governor Jay Inslee
Governor Inslee: Support Interpreters Who Need Work!
Since the COVID-19 crisis hit Washington state, interpreters have struggled to access language interpretation appointments. While we recognize that scheduled medical and social services appointments have decreased significantly due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we believe that interpreters play a critical role in providing desperately needed assistance and information to Limited English Proficient Washingtonians. As representatives of our communities in Washington, interpreters work hard to deliver quality interpretation services. Interpreters stand united in our belief that interpretation services in Washington are best provided by highly skilled, qualified, and DSHS-credentialed interpreters. Therefore, interpreters are calling on Governor Inslee to use DSHS-credentialed interpreters in Washington State to meet publicly-funded interpreting needs during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Why is this important?
Governor Inslee’s new Language Access Plan during the Coronavirus Pandemic could inadvertently divert vital interpreting and translation services away from unionized, state-certified, mostly immigrant interpreters employed in Washington State.
There are over 3,000 Washington State credentialed interpreters who are qualified to provide interpreting and translating services, the majority of whom are union members and immigrant workers. But due to the economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Washington’s interpreting workforce is largely under-employed or out-of-work – and now applying for unemployment benefits.
We support expanding language access for Limited English Proficient patients, clients, and residents during the Coronavirus Pandemic, but we are calling on Governor Inslee to close a loophole that diverts interpreting work away from our State’s high-quality, unionized, and mostly immigrant interpreter workforce.
Washington State’s contract for remote interpreting services uses two third-party companies – CTS Language Link and Lionbridge Translation – who profit from publicly-funded interpreting appointments by underpaying predominantly non-union interpreters who work over the phone from other countries.
Instead, Governor Inslee can ensure that ALL of Washington State’s publicly-funded interpreting appointments are directed to interpreters who are credentialed by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) or equivalent authorizing bodies in Washington, and who are ready, willing, and able to provide high-quality interpreting services for fair wages and benefits.
By instructing state agencies to use DSHS credentialed or equivalently qualified interpreters and translators in Washington State, Governor Inslee can ensure that Washingtonians receive the highest quality language access services, save the state money from thousands of interpreters and translators applying for unemployment, and support hard-working interpreters and translators – the majority of whom are immigrants and union members.