Translations and Unit Work

It has come to the attention of the Local that there are employee interpreter unit members in different parts of the state who are performing written translations assigned to them by management during working hours, or in some cases, by a bench officer.

I am not talking about the private side gigs that people get and do on their own time, invoicing the agency or justice partner with whom they work in the courts, to then be paid additional to their normal wage. There are many possible reasons why it is problematic for court interpreters to do translations– but the intention of this communication is to explain how it negatively affects both our MOU and how we are compensated by the court.

First to keep in mind is that none of the Regions MOUs have “written translations” as part of the unit work. If your employer court wants interpreters to also do translations as part of their job duties, it must first bargain for such at the table, and the Union would expect to reach an agreement that would establish protocols and increase pay commensurate with the additional duties/unit work.

When a staff interpreter accepts and performs a translation as an assignment, this thwarts the ability of the rest to gain more in wages; this is something valuable that could have been collectively bargained and beneficial to everyone now becomes detrimental to all unit members in lost potential income.

The general rule of any group of workers is to claim every task that is pertinent to their profession and skill set as their unit work. This Local presently claims and has claimed written translations as our unit work; it has been the subject of a pilot project in one court which gave an additional pay bump to everyone who wished to join the project and do translations. Everyone had an equal opportunity to participate and earn additional income. Although the side letter has expired, written translations correspond to us, and no one should carry out any written translations work as part of their job duties, including voluntarily, until it has been vetted and agreed to by the Union... with a bump up in compensation!

If you are doing translations as part of your workday, resulting in you leaving your interpreting duties to be covered by the rest of the staff, that is contrary to our MOU, and is creating an impediment to everyone getting a better wage scale for the added unit work.

Don’t allow management to take advantage of you!

Should you have any questions about this, please contact a local steward or send us an email to [email protected]

In unity,

Michael Ferreira