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Washington State: Leading the Way for Professional Interpreters

[club]Washington State has long been a beacon for software development and language access. Traditionally, the state has paid interpreters through language companies. To cover their costs, companies would retain about 40% of the money the state pays for interpreting services. A bill in 2010 granted freelance interpreters unionization rights for appointments paid by two Washington State agencies, DSHS and HCA. In 2011, a provision in the state budget created a new procurement model for interpreting services. Under the coordinating entity model, 1) the state pays a monthly flat fee to a language company in charge of developing and maintaining a web-based software system to schedule, invoice and process payments to interpreters while 2) the state collectively bargains with interpreters for their rates of pay.  Separating the administrative cost from the service cost results in the intermediary (the language company) keeping less than 15% of what the state spends in interpreting services.

On March 23, 2018, Governor Inslee signed Senate Bill 6245 into law, expanding the coordinating entity procurement model and unionization rights to all appointments paid by Washington State’s executive branch state agencies. The bill, which received bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House, has a fiscal note estimating a 27% decrease in the state’s expenditures for interpreting services.

You can read more here.

You can watch the video of the signing ceremony here (Starts at 20:29).


Article originally published on the ATA’s Interpreter Division webpage on May 2, 2018.

Related to: Interpreter/Translator News

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