News

Bargaining is around the corner! This is a historic opportunity for us, health care interpreters, to negotiate for fair working conditions with the State of Oregon. Our work has gone unrecognized for far too long, this pandemic has brought even more challenges to our work and while many have left the industry, we also know that Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted the communities we serve. Many of us continue to do this work because we know how critical it is for the thousands of immigrants, refugees and hard-of-hearing patients.

Our nation’s behavioral and mental health workers have helped families and communities deal with every imaginable crisis, including the opioid crisis, gun violence, homelessness and the coronavirus pandemic. But for far too long, their work has not been fully appreciated.

The State of Oregon on April 23 recognized a union for as many as 500 medical interpreters who translate for Medicaid patients who don’t speak English.

Because the interpreters are independent contractors, they wouldn’t normally have a legal process to unionize, except that Oregon AFSCME helped pass a bill in 2019, HB 2231, that made unionization possible. Under the law, interpreters who are hired through a registry maintained by the Oregon Health Authority can unionize.