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U.S. Court Interpreters Refuse to Accept Lower Pay Under New Contract
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Oct 6, 2015

Immigration Courts Could Lose A Third Of Their Interpreters. Language interpreters, who are crucial to the basic functioning of America’s beleaguered immigration courts, say a new federal contractor is trying to drastically underpay them:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/davidnoriega/immigration-courts-could-lose-a-third-of-their-interpreters#.gkYNbky3w

[Edited at 2015-10-06 13:05 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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What is to prevent another company... Oct 6, 2015

from underbidding them even further next year?



[Edited at 2015-10-06 13:21 GMT]


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
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Proz.com bidding as well Oct 6, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

What is to prevent another company from underbidding them even further next year?



Similar price diving trends appear at Proz.com bidding as well. This is a benefit of free transaction through cyberspace?

Soonthon L.


 

The Misha
Local time: 02:39
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What is to prevent them all... Oct 6, 2015

... from having to look for a different line of work altogether? Oh, yes, we all know what - or rather who - it is. As a colleague, I sympathize. As a tax-paying, law-abiding American, I am totally and thoroughly disgusted. On top of everything else, I have to pay for that too?

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Interesting... Oct 7, 2015

... I really thought that there would be a lot more discussion about this.

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Soon we will all be replaced by computer screens and remote mobile presence devices Oct 7, 2015

http://kwqc.com/2015/10/07/doctor-help-me-in-200-plus-languages/

 

Kevin Dias
Local time: 15:39
SITE STAFF
Sounds like an opportunity for translators/interpreters Oct 8, 2015

Hi Jeff,

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Soon we will all be replaced by computer screens and remote mobile presence devices
http://kwqc.com/2015/10/07/doctor-help-me-in-200-plus-languages/


It seems like your take from that article was more on the pessimistic side, but I think it sounds like a real opportunity for interpreters/translators.


Rieck said a live interpreter is still ideal, but because they are a 24-7 business, this will be a supplement in case an interpreter is caught up at another location, or if the patient needs immediate assistance.


The bolding is mine - but I think this highlights the important take away. Especially in a field like medical where a wrong translation can make a huge difference in a patient's healthcare - I think this is a huge opportunity where technology can increase the number of jobs and opportunities for (in this case) interpreters.

Imagine a business model where there exists the same type of remote system in the hospital, but instead of a "virtual interpreter" it is a real live human interpreter on the other end. Given that we have interpreters all over the world, if this system were in hospitals they could have a access to a live human interpreter 24/7. Subsequently this would create more opportunities for interpreters as I'm sure hospitals that don't have the infrastructure to find, manage and hire local interpreters could use such a system (or it could be used to supplement local interpreters where there is not enough supply to meet the 24/7 demand).

Actually before I read the article that is what I imagined it would be about just from the title: “Doctor, help me” in 200 plus languages.

Anyway, my larger point being that instead of always fighting technological progress or dismissing new technology I think translators/interpreters should look at how to use technology to lift the profession and open the doors to more and better paying jobs.

Kevin


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Except that the interpreting system will be run by... Oct 8, 2015

GotchaMedicalLanguageServices who will pay interpreters .40 a minute.

And they are probably not paid for their "availability" time. In other words, they work for five minutes, wait at home for another hour, work another ten minutes, wait two hours, work fifteen minutes. At the end of an 8-hour shift, they've earned $25.00

Kevin Dias wrote:





[Edited at 2015-10-08 13:50 GMT]


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
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I read both the ICA and the contract between SOSi and DOJ Oct 8, 2015

and there are a few discrepancies:

The ICA skipps this paragraph. It is about the 2 hrs. minimum.
This paragraph should be included in the ICA:

B.3 Price Table (DJJI-15-RFP-0881)

(d) If a Spanish or common language order is issued for on-site service (i.e., not telephonic) using the per hour CLIN and the time the interpreter is actually used is less than two hours, a minimum two hour payment will be made to the Contractor. For uncommon language orders a minimum of one hour payment will be made to the Contractor.

The ICA stipulates that the interpreter is not entitled to per diem, parking etc.

SOSi contract with the DOJ stipulates differently:

(e) Even if the COR approves airfare or train fare, the Contractor is responsible for all other travel related costs associated with providing the interpreter to the designated location, e.g., per diem to include lodging and meals, any other form of transportation, parking, mileage, etc. The Contractor must ensure that the assigned interpreter has access to the necessary resources to secure all other travel arrangements (e.g., rental car).

I sent these findings to PA their HR Manager, but she never got back to me with an explanation.


 

philgoddard
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The same thing has happened in the UK. Oct 8, 2015

http://www.channel4.com/news/court-translation-service-in-crisis-after-cost-cutting-deal

 

dkfmmuc  Identity Verified
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Thanks for the valuable links & information Oct 8, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

... I really thought that there would be a lot more discussion about this.


At first I would like to thank you for the valuable link and pieces of information.
And bringing this to attention.

I think one of the main reasons that an epic discussion hasn't evolved yet is that many of us are in the same situation. Some customers (even large organizations) trying to renegotiate or starting a melting down of rates from project to project. Therefore this trend can be seen not only for interpreting but also for translations.

Although I have not the ultimate solutions for this threat of the translation industry I try to compare the rates paid for translations with that people are willing to pay for comparatively unskilled craftsmen. And their double source of income: Working slowly and charging many hours of pausing and integrating lots of goods which they are getting commission for.

To avoid a misunderstanding: That is not a plea against craftsmen but for a fair evaluation and payment for all types of work.

If you see them demanding (and charging) much more than some clients are willing to pay for translations which boost their business it is on the one hand sad. On the other hand you should determine a mimimum rate.

That said I am very upset about this trend which you could call a predatory bargain shopping. Especially if you translate for a text which is used for many years or printed in hundreds or thousands.

But too many people don't think about that. Neither when going shopping nor when buying for their business.

Best regards and fingers crossed for a new price trend evolving

Gerd



[Edited at 2015-10-08 09:50 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Yes, there's more about that at... Oct 8, 2015

...the bottom of this article:

http://www.interpretamerica.com/interpreting-the-news/immigration-courts-could-lose-a-third-of-their-interpreters

I hope something comes out of it, but I'm afraid translators and interpreters will just cave as usual.

I think the person in the comment section said it best - large companies bid increasingly lower prices to win large contracts and only after winning the bid, do they try to figure how to get and find people who work within those rates.




[Edited at 2015-10-08 14:34 GMT]


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:39
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Japanese to English
I have no problem with competitors taking themselves out Oct 8, 2015

Kevin Dias wrote:
It seems like your take from that article was more on the pessimistic side, but I think it sounds like a real opportunity for interpreters/translators.

It's an opportunity because the translators and interpreters who cave and take jobs at below the market rate will be occupied with those projects, leaving those who didn't accept an insultingly low rate free to accept the higher paid jobs.

Yesterday an agency that works at the mid- to low-end of the market sent out a job request at 1600. Urgent translation, they said, must be done by 0900 next day. I thought about the time and decided I could get it done by midnight.

I bid for the job at a fair rate, significantly higher than the agency wanted. I waited two hours, but my bid wasn't accepted. By then I had lost two valuable hours that I could have used to work on the job, so I revoked the bid.

Nearly two hours after that the agency sent out another urgent request for the same job, having clearly found nobody. At the same time they extended the deadline by two hours. Two hours after that I got an email saying that the job had been filled.

That would have been a nasty project, probably with the translator needing to work through the night and with a lot of pressure from that deadline.

From my perspective it wasn't worth it, especially given the low rate, though I would have taken it at the time it was first offered had the price been fair. They would have got a quality translation, well before the original deadline, without having to run around like headless chickens.

As for me, well, while the translator who took on that translation was sleeping today, I was translating another project, during daylight hours and at a higher rate. In all likelihood the other translator got taken out of contention for that better paid job by accepting the lower paying job.

Who "won"? I don't know. I do know that by not taking on a high-pressure job with lots of time pressure for a lower rate than my minimum at least I didn't lose.

Regards
Dan


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 02:39
Romanian to English
+ ...
Issues with the Contract DJJI-15RFP0881 Oct 10, 2015

Basically, SOSi copy/pasted most provisions of its contract with the DOJ, but maliciously omitted some parts of the contract.

Here is the letter I sent them:

ICA vs. DJJI-15 RFP 0881


I copy/pasted the text of SOSi contract with the DOJ- DJJI-15RFP 0881 (in black) and the provisions of the ICA(in red)


(1) e) Even if the COR approves airfare or train fare, the Contractor(SOSi) is responsible for all other travel related costs associated with providing the interpreter to the designated location, e.g., per diem to include lodging and meals, any other form of transportation, parking, mileage, etc. The Contractor must ensure that the assigned interpreter has access to the necessary resources to secure all other travel arrangements (e.g., rental car).


Even in cases where airfare or train fare has been approved, the Contractor(Interpreter) is responsible for all other travel related costs associated with performance of Work at the designated location (e.g., per diem to include lodging and meals, any other form of transportation, parking, mileage, etc.)


(2) C.3.10 Resource Materials

The Contractor shall ensure all of its interpreters have relevant language resource materials available, including English language/foreign language conversion dictionaries, monolingual dictionaries, legal dictionaries, etc. The interpreters must bring, at a minimum, one bilingual (English and respective foreign language) conversion dictionary to any hearing in which they interpret for languages where the conversion dictionary is available. The Contractor shall notify the Government of languages for which the conversion dictionaries do not exist. The Contractor(SOSi) shall provide the above items to its interpreters at its own expense.


INTERPRETATION AT IMMMIGRATION COURT HEARINGS

The Contractor shall bring with him/her to any court hearing for which he/she will be providing interpretation services the following:
(a) Two (2) forms of identification (photo identification issued by DOJ as well as photo identification issued by SOSi);
(b) Three (3) individually completed and signed (top portion only, and without use of carbon paper) Certification of Interpretation (“COI”) Forms (see Exhibit 5 of this SOW);
(c) Bilingual (English and the applicable foreign language) conversion dictionary, where available; and (d) Copy of Immigration Court Terminology List in English and the Contractor’s interpretation language (see sample translated from English to Spanish in Exhibit 4 of this SOW).

The Contractor(Interpreter) shall obtain the required bilingual dictionary, as well as a copy of the Immigration Court Terminology List, translated into his/her own respective interpretation language(s), at his/her own expense(Interpreter). If a bilingual dictionary for the Contractor’s language does not exist, the Contractor shall notify SOSi prior to appearance at the hearing.


(c) The following definitions apply to the pricing table:

(1) Language Interpreter Services - Interpreting services provided by contract interpreters to augment EOIR in-house staff. Contract Interpreter Services are available to all Immigration Courts (IC), specifically for hearings for which an IC staff interpreter is not available to interpret in the required language or dialect, and in some instances, to assist in meeting interpreter requirements for which IC staff interpreters are not able or not available to fully meet the interpreter needs of the Court.

(2) Common Languages - Any language other than Spanish ordered 250 or more times during the previous contract period.

(3) Uncommon Languages - Any language other than Spanish ordered fewer than 250 times during the previous contract period.

(4) Telephonic - Interpreter Services provided over the phone as opposed to on-site.

(5) Hour - For orders by the hour.

(6) ½ day - For orders of three (3) to four (4) hours duration unless EOIR determines that using a different CLIN would result in less cost to the Government.

(7) Day - For orders of five (5) or more hours duration unless EOIR determines that using a different CLIN would result in less cost to the Government.

(8) Week - For orders of at least five (5) consecutive work days

(9) Month - For orders of at least twenty-two (22) consecutive work days.

(10) Work Day - As defined in Section F.6(b) and (c).


(d) If a Spanish or common language order is issued for on-site service (i.e., not telephonic) using the per hour CLIN and the time the interpreter is actually used is less than two hours, a minimum two hour payment will be made to the Contractor. For uncommon language orders a minimum of one hour payment will be made to the Contractor.

The following definitions apply to the unit pricing table:

• Common Languages – Any language other than Spanish ordered by the Customer 250 or more times during the previous contract period.
• Uncommon Languages - Any language other than Spanish ordered fewer than 250 times during the previous contract period.

• Telephonic – Interpretation services provided over the phone as opposed to on-site.

• Hour – For orders by the hour. • ½ day – For orders of three (3) to four (4) hours’ duration unless EOIR determines using a different CLIN would result in less cost to the Government.

• Day – For orders of five (5) or more hours’ duration unless EOIR determines that using a different CLIN would result in less cost to the Government.

• Week – For orders of at least five (5) consecutive work days.

• Month – For orders of at least twenty-two (22) consecutive work days.

WHERE IS POINT (d) OF THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT?


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
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Interesting stuff Oct 10, 2015

You would think that the original contractor (Lionbridge in this case) would be interested in knowing this as a way to retain the contract they lost from the undercutting bidder who is not following the rules...

liviu roth wrote:




 
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U.S. Court Interpreters Refuse to Accept Lower Pay Under New Contract

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