The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022 - 11

it in the U.S. The language
services industry is a $64.7
billion industry globally,
with the U.S. accounting
for approximately 40%.
The advent of remote
simultaneous interpreting
and other virtual
collaboration models means
that, rather than hire U.S.
contractors as employees,
U.S. companies will
simply take their business
elsewhere.
Now more than ever, in
our ever-evolving world,
the U.S. must safeguard
our ability to effectively
communicate across
a variety of languages
within a myriad of
industries: government,
nongovernmental
organizations, health
care, legal, business, and
education, among others.
Translators and interpreters
are overwhelmingly
independent professionals,
by choice and by design. Our
ability to practice our craft
in an unhindered manner
is essential to preserving
language access in our
country. Lives depend on it.
It is not practical or feasible
for any single employer to
hire one linguist who speaks
a dozen languages and is
an expert in two dozen
topics. Nor is it practical
or feasible for a single
employer to hire a dozen
linguists as employees to
do a single day's work, such
as translating an important
Medicare brochure into 12
languages commonly spoken
in the U.S.
Protections from
exploitation and
misclassification are
essential for some
www.ata-chronicle.online
occupations. Ours is not
one of them. We urge
you to take stock of the
California example, look
carefully at the evidence of
our independent contractor
tradition, and fix this rule
before it proceeds and leads
to unintended consequences
and needless harm.
We ask you to revert to the
pre-2021 economic realities
test, which better honors
the independent nature of
language professionals'
work, protects independent
translators and interpreters
nationwide, and safeguards
language access and our
economy.
In its present form,
the proposed rule poses
a serious danger to
professional linguists, the
priority of language access,
and the people we serve,
including all Americans. As
the president of the largest
association of language
professionals in the U.S.,
with our tradition of
independence and by the
choice of the majority of
highly skilled linguists, I
look forward to working
with you to remedy this
problem with the rule.
Please contact me with
any questions.
Sincerely,
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
President
American Translators
Association
Why This Matters to Translators and Interpreters
While employee classification for all may seem like a fine
idea in principle, the reality is far different. Employee
status is not necessarily a safeguard against exploitation
(e.g., wage theft is a significant problem across industries
and regions). As we saw in California with AB 5, language
services companies (LSCs) that rely on the services of
professional translators and interpreters did not respond
by hiring contractors as employees, paying higher
compensation, or providing benefits. Instead, they
unilaterally terminated contracts and made out-of-state
residency a condition for working with them, seeking to
hire only service providers outside California. If enacted,
this rule could have similar consequences, decimating the
business of language professionals in the U.S.
Language professionals who work more than 40 hours a
week as freelancers for a single client may be misclassified
and entitled to recourse. Fortunately, remedies already exist
for these misclassified individuals. The majority of language
professionals, however, hold themselves out for hire to
any client who requests their services and agrees to their
professional fees, be that client an LSC, another public or
private entity, or an individual. These professionals should
have a say in how they are classified, a freedom that could
be stripped with the enacting of this more restrictive law.
Learn More about ATA's Advocacy Efforts
Educating government officials and the public about the
role of translators, interpreters, and language access in our
society is a central part of ATA's mission. These efforts are
led in part by ATA's Advocacy Committee, which works on
behalf of ATA members-and all language professionals
for that matter-to specifically tackle policy and legislative
language issues. The committee is asked to do the following:
y Monitor the activities of local, state, and national
legislative and regulatory bodies.
y Provide recommendations for responding to requests
from these bodies.
y Provide information regarding government activities to
the Board and the general membership.
y Address international regulatory issues, as appropriate.
ATA's advocacy campaigns have included reaching out to
Congress to request independent contractor classification
for translators and interpreters, supporting interpreters
seeking fair pay in Nevada, advising the Santa Maria City
Council (California) on language access, urging the Biden
administration to prioritize the evacuation of Afghan
interpreters and their families, as well as petitioning the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for early access
to vaccinations and safe working conditions for in-person
interpreters during the pandemic.
Check out ATA's Advocacy and Outreach page for more on
these efforts. You can also learn more about the Advocacy
Committee by listening to Episode 58 of The ATA Podcast.
American Translators Association 11
https://bit.ly/3fRDkDg https://bit.ly/3fRDkDg https://www.atanet.org/news/advocacy-and-outreach/ https://www.atanet.org/podcast/e58-ata-advocacy/ http://www.ata-chronicle.online

The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022

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