A union of interpreters, run by interpreters, for interpreters.Washington Federation of State Employees - AFSCME Council 28 - AFL-CIO
a union run by interpreters for interpreters
We are the labor union for freelance spoken language interpreters contracted by Washington State to render services for HCA-Medicaid enrollees, DSHS and DCYF clients pursuant to RCW 41.56.030(10). We are all small business owners working for Washington State as independent contractors. Through our union's advocacy, we have worked together with our state to save millions of taxpayers' dollars previously wasted on excessive administrative costs.
We promote lean government principles. Streamlining the procurement of language interpretation services directs limited public funds to the people actually providing the services, instead of intermediaries. This in turn raises the quality of interpreter services rendered to Limited English Proficient (LEP) Washingtonians. We support a ONE STOP SHOPPING SOLUTION for rendering services in all three delivery modalities: in-person, over-the-phone and video remote interpretation (VRI). We embrace cloud technology advances in communications and Software as a Service (SaaS) business models.
Appointments covered under our union contract (HCA-Medicaid, DSHS, and DCYF) are currently coordinated by the state's vendor Universal Language Services at hcauniversal.com. You can check the contract performance here.
THOUGH DIVERSE WE ARE ...
UNITED WE STAND AND UNITED WE CAN!
Our members are a group of dedicated interpreters who work for the greater good. Every odd year, its membership elects its interpreter leaders who, for a 2-year term, volunteer their time and share their knowledge freely with their colleagues.
Interpreters United is Local 1671 of the Washington Federation of State Employees a.k.a. AFSCME Council 28. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees represents 1.6 million public service workers and is affiliated to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Interpreters United: Local1671[at]gmail.com
Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/InterpretersUnited
Fill rates, per language and per county, for appointments covered under our union contract are now viewable by the public through an interactive dashboard (page #3) hosted on the HCA Interpreter Services website.
Read our Review of the Washington State Medicaid Interpreter Services Program, May 2017.
Read our Suggestions for an Online Interpreter Scheduling System, May 2019.
Read our Report on the Implementation of 2018 Senate Bill 6245 Concerning Spoken Language Interpreter Services, September 2019.
Below are statements from social service and Medicaid medical interpreters on why we wanted to form our union in 2010.
Spanish Interpreter, Tacoma
"WIth Interpreters United, WFSE, we can earn a living wage, improve our skills and restore quality and respect to our profession. We can negotiate for proper pay, treatment and training- including bedside manners. We won't have to dread going to work because they will no longer be able to arbitrarily change the rules. We see the waste and abuse in the current system, so we can help make sure more money is going to help people instead of being wasted.Without a Union, we have no voice. We have no power to protect ourselves, our patients or our profession. The union is the only answer! United we can win!"
Russian Interpreter, Vancouver
"Organized we can make policy makers listen to our opinion. Unorganized we are voiceless and are dealt with accordingly.
Just recently, instead of cutting on huge administrative cost, the DSHS attempted to slaughter funding for the DSHS certified interpreters. They thought, 'Why not - they never talked back?!' So let's talk now! Let our voice be heard!!"
French Interpreter, Seattle
"In the past several years, DSHS, Brokers, and Agencies have signed contracts and made rules without ever consulting interpreters. This concerns interpreters' work and our livelihood.
It's getting harder and harder to serve DSHS clients and get paid for the work we do. Complaining about not getting paid for the work we have done is useless if no one listens. We need to unite to make our voice heard and turn interpreting in the state of Washington into well managed and informed profession."Fernando LeivaSpanish Interpreter, Renton
"With a union we can finally have a community of interpreters. Right now the brokers and agencies decided the terms of our work. Our only choice in the matter is to accept it or leave the field. We don't have opportunities for professional development. We don't have any way to address problems with scheduling, work rules, or even reimbursement issues.We finally are on the path to having a voice! Alone we can't change anything, but we have already shown that together we can achieve change and accomplish the impossible!"
Russian / Arabic Interpreter, Seattle
"I have been working as an interpreter for many years now and have seen no increase in pay since the 90's. The rules keep becoming more and more arbitrary and rigid, as the pay keeps getting cut.
I want a union so that interpreters can have a united voice for improvement of work standards for everyone, which will result in better services for LES persons and overall more efficiency."
Spanish Interpreter, Seattle
"As an interpreter, I had the feeling I was all alone out there, having little or, no contact with other interpreters knowing I didn’t have any venue or support to solve any discrepancies over pay and other issues with my agency. Until, I heard about Interpreters United.
I started coming to Interpreters United meetings where I learned other interpreters were having the same bad negative experiences with their agencies, brokers and the Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS). Collectively, we all said enough!!!
Recently, we were able to pass a law that gives us the right to form our own UNION, the first in the country! I’m confident we’ll win our Union election because every interpreter I’ve talked to has told me they’ve had enough of the unjust, unfair, broken-brokers system. How long have you been waiting for this to happen? NOW IS THE TIME. COME JOIN OUR HISTORIC MOVEMENT!"
Spanish Interpreter, Seattle
"I am excited about the Interpreters Union because currently the only way the system seems to cut costs is by taking it out of the pockets of interpreters. I'd like to see a mileage reimbursement policy that pays mileage despite the chosen mode of transportation, whether public or private; car, bus, or train.
I'd like to see open communication between all parties involved in the interpreting business not a hierarchy that puts interpreters at the bottom with no voice."
Russian Interpreter, Spokane
"Interpreters United is a union that can help us reach our goal to improve working conditions by having a voice and a place at the table.
Together, we can increase community awareness about our profession and build a strong network of interpreters.
As a union, we can all have a rewarding career, not just a job."
Spanish Interpreter, Seattle
"I registered with six or seven agencies and was happy to start working right away. As I got to know the DSHS-Broker-Agency system, I became less enthusiastic.
Every day there were new rules, new provisions, more rules, more provisions and a rock and a hard place began to appear between me and my job as an interpreter. I had to wait three months to get paid, while my family was waiting to see a normal amount of food on the table.
From small reprimands the issues escalated to being blacklisted from the Hopelink list of acceptable interpreters for speaking up about how I felt about being treated disrespectfully and refusing to quietly accept being treated badly.
Forming a union means that interpreters will no longer have to accept being treated with disrespect by brokers and agencies. It means that interpreters will have a process to protect themselves from being suspended, fined, or blacklisted for whatever reason the brokers and agencies decide. It also means that we can sit down and negotiate over rules and working conditions with DSHS, instead of being subject to the everchanging and arbitrary rules of the brokers and agencies."
Spanish Interpreter, Edmonds
"We need a Union because it is our RIGHT."
Spanish Interpreter, North Cascades
"If you have been frustrated with the system we have been working under -
If you are concerned about where we are going -
If you want your voice to be heard -
This is an opportunity to create positive change - not just for interpreters but for those we serve.
We need you to be part of this change!
We need your valuable input!
Participate by signing a union card and taking an active part to make your voice heard."