HCI Union Bargaining Updates

We are thrilled to announce that our union bargaining team is back to contract negotiations with the State of Oregon! We had a productive discussion and made proposals based on immediate and long-term support for health care interpreters. We have not received a response to our proposals yet; our next bargaining session is December 18th. Here is a recap:

How did we get here?

During the 2023 legislative session, we fought for and won a $2 million allocation to OHA for Health Care Interpreters. These funds were allocated specifically for us to continue with contract negotiations. Thanks to everyone who emailed their state representatives, wrote testimony, and showed up to testify in support!

What did we propose?

Professional Development - We proposed an allocation of $500,000 to reimburse HCIs directly for up to $300 a year for training and CEUs approved by OHA.
Compensation - Our proposal keeps in mind two things: immediate economic support and a long-term solution. We proposed a second round of $1,200 bonuses and fair compensation for open-card appointments (appointments for OHP patients not yet assigned to an insurance company). While open-card appointments are just about 10% of OHP appointments, our ultimate goal is to bargain over all state-funded appointments and we continue to push for that.

Expansion of the Program Development Committee - The PDC is a committee of interpreters and State reps who have worked on legislation that benefits OHA's Health Care Interpreter (HCI) Program. We proposed to expand the committee's responsibilities to include exploring a variety of avenues for a state-based scheduling and billing system. We also proposed allowing other stakeholders to join the conversation to ensure we build a system that works for all.

Ground Rules - Both sides agreed to ground rules that reestablish a bargaining timeline, meaning both parties agree to negotiate in good faith for 90 days before requesting mediation. This helps us reset the tone and gives us an opportunity to have productive discussions with the state about our proposals.

Who is on our bargaining team?

Our bargaining team was elected in 2022 by our membership, and it’s made up of health care interpreters in the following categories:

Representative of rural communities: Felicity Ratway
Representative of languages of lesser diffusion: Sonia Landi
Representative of ASL interpreters: Kara DeGiovanni
Representatives of the most common languages: Maria Fiallos and Job Pozos Avila

Our bargaining team also has legal and organizing support as we continue to negotiate our first union contract for state funded appointments.

How can you help?

Please consider sharing your experience working as a health care interpreter and the challenges that you face in the industry. Sharing our stories is essential to ensuring the State of Oregon understands the importance of supporting our work. We share these stories with legislators and key stakeholders when the time comes, and you may remain anonymous if you choose. Click here to fill out a short form.

Stay tuned for our next virtual meeting after the holidays!