Who created the Incident Resolution Process?
The Health Care Authority (HCA) created the Incident Resolution Process —first implemented in April 2014— in order to manage complaints from providers regarding interpreter behavior and/or adherence to WAC 388-03-050. A provision for this process is included in the contract HCA signed with Universal Language Services (ULS) in June 2018.
Why aren’t incidents covered under our union contract?
In 2010, interpreters organized and succeeded in passing a bill granting them the right to unionize as independent contractors. RCW 41.56.510(c) limits our scope for collective bargaining.
What is the response of Interpreters United to the Incident Resolution Process?
Interpreters United and AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) have always objected to the State’s vendor (previously CTS LanguageLink and currently Universal Language Services) being the judge, jury, and executioner of freelance interpreters. It is our position that the State’s vendor should limit itself to documenting complaints against interpreters and that all disciplinary sanctions should be in the hands of the interpreters’ certifying body (e.g. DSHS/LTC). Under much protest, however, we agreed to provide recommendations on this Incident Resolution Process in order to ensure that interpreters’ voices are heard, and to prevent harsher policies that could have occurred.
What advocacy has Interpreters United made towards the Incident Resolution Process?
The State is not obligated to work with the union on this policy, which is outside of our collective bargaining scope. However, due to the activism and advocacy efforts of our members, the State has implemented many of our recommendations to ensure a fairer process, including the following:
- Allowing interpreters to return appointments up to 24 hours in advance with no penalty;
- 30-minute grace period to return appointments without triggering an incident report;
- Allowing permissible reasons for returning an appointment or tardiness without resulting in an incident report such as a reasonable sick policy (e.g., being allowed to return all appointments in a day up to four times a month without incurring an incident);
- Low and medium incidents expire for computational purposes after a certain number of months; and
- A forthcoming appeals process for those interpreters whose contract with the State’s vendor has been terminated.
What should an interpreter do if they an incident?
Interpreters should review the “HELP! I got an incident!” document in the Members Only tab for step-by-step suggestions on what to do when receiving an incident report. You can also purchase Professional Liability insurance a.k.a. Errors & Omissions insurance (E&O) and/or seek legal advice (see AFSCME Members Only benefits).