Common Questions

How is the union a benefit to me?

With a union, we have a voice in contract negotiations and can refuse contracts with unfair terms.

A union will give us the opportunity to negotiate for:

  • Fair compensation for travel time and mileage
  • Fair cancellation policies
  • Fair compensation for remote appointments
  • Pay for the full scheduled duration of the appointment
  • Reasonable treatment when we are sick, have an emergency, face inclement weather, or are otherwise unable to make it to an appointment
  • Fair process for investigating issues related to unfair treatment by providers, paycheck errors, late paychecks, etc.

Will this affect the compensation interpreters receive from Language Service Providers (agencies) like Passport to Languages?
No, unfortunately, we can only bargain with the state for appointments paid through the State of Oregon.

I didn’t sign a card, am I in the union?
All qualified/certified self-employed interpreters working at least 8 hours a month for the last 6 months in the State of Oregon are eligible to be in our union. Click here to download a membership card to join.
Here are some guiding questions:

  • Do you contract with agencies (Linguava, Passport to Languages, Columbia Language Services)?
  • Are you qualified or certified with the Oregon Health Authority?
  • Are you actively interpreting?

Is union membership mandatory for all independent, self-employed interpreters?
No, you do not have to be a member. However, we encourage you to become a member to get a saying on your first contract. Once we have a tentative agreement, the contract will be sent to all members for approval, if the majority likes the contract, it gets ratified and it goes into effect.

Once your contract is ratified, you also have access to other AFSCME member-only benefits.

Will I have to be a member to take appointments?
No, but your union is as strong as your membership and union contributions go-to resources for your local. Some interpreters are hoping to use those resources to fund free CEUs, scholarships to get qualified/certified, continue to fund legislation, and make permanent changes to support interpreters across the state.

Will my working hours be limited?
As independent contractors, we get to determine our schedule as we work with multiple agencies.

How much will dues be?
There are no dues contributions until we have a bargaining contract with better working conditions that as a member you get to vote on before going into effect. They are typically 1.27 % of gross pay, this would only apply to income earned interpreting for appointments covered under our contract. For example if we earn $1,000 from our union appointments, we would contribute $12.27 to keep our union running.

For example, Washington Interpreters United members contribute 1.5% of each union appointment, the current rates they have negotiated for are $42.32 an hour, which is about .63 cents per appointment. We are not joining Washington Interpreters United, we are our own union and will have our own dues structure and negotiate our own rates.

Will we have the same rates as Washington State Interpreters?
We don’t know, rates will be negotiated for with the State of Oregon. We will propose what we think is fair and eventually come to an agreement with the State.

What will we get in our contract?
It is up to us! Our union and our contract is as strong as we are. Once our union is recognized, we will send out surveys to determine our bargaining priorities, and we will elect interpreters from diverse backgrounds to be on our bargaining team. For good examples of what we can negotiate for, check out the WA Interpreters' contract! And start making a list of your priorities.

How long does it take to negotiate a contract?
All contracts are different and depend on how soon both parties (our union and the State of Oregon) can come to an agreement. Some contracts can take up to a year.

What is next?
If you are interested in planning next steps, helping to design our survey or representing your colleagues during contract negotiations, please contact Alma Raya at [email protected] (831) 682-8390