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Linguist Protection Bill Updated after Coalition Efforts

Interpretation, Translation

Founder of the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California Lorena Ortiz Schneider provided a breakdown of the final language of California’s AB 2257 linguist protection bill.

As reported in a previous MultiLingual News article on August 10, California’s AB 2257 Linguist Protection is an attempt to loosen a previous gig economy clean-up bill. It was authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who also championed AB 5, the general workers-rights gig economy bill that went into effect January 1 of this year. AB 5 states that most workers are employees, and as employees, they should be afforded labor protections such as minimum wage laws, sick leave, and unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits — benefits that do not apply to independent contractors. However, actual independent contractors were alarmed by the bill. Interpreters and translators in California were unhappy with AB 5, saying it had devastating effects on their ability to work in the state.

As a result, hundreds of California translators and interpreters formed an unprecedented coalition to educate their lawmakers on the topic. Since fall 2019, before AB 5 even went into effect, they asked legislators to understand that imposing employee status on interpreters and translators is disastrous. AB 2257 is the third piece of linguist protection legislation to go forward seeking a remedy for this.

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Lorena Ortiz Schneider, founder of the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California (CoPTIC), offered a breakdown of the legislation over the weekend to her colleagues. “The terms of AB 2257 are set. The relief bill addressing dozens of professions and trades, and omitting some, will pass both chambers and proceed to the governor for signing. As an urgency measure, it will take immediate effect,” she wrote in a letter. “Practicing translators and interpreters in California and language companies that contract them gained significant safe harbors for operation in the bill. All stakeholders need to assess the protections for linguists earned in the legislation.”

Read the final terms of AB 2257 here.

The series of protections includes an exemption for translators under “Professional Services,” which allows them to contract as Sole Proprietors, rather than a business entity like a corporation. Language companies with “significant translation portfolios” will also receive an exemption for translators, although the exemption will not extend to interpreters under article 2, “due to the stipulation that requires services to be provided directly to the hiring business (language company) and not to the customers of the hiring business.”

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However, the terms establish that interpreters can work as “Sole Proprietors in a relationship with a Referral Agency on condition that they are certified or registered in a language and domain with an available certification or registration. If there is no certification or registration in the language, then there is no restriction.”

Other forms of protection the bill includes are single-engagement events, localization consulting, and translation and interpretation trainers.

“The Coalition will continue to educate all stakeholders on satisfying the conditions for exemption in the coming weeks,” Lorena Ortiz Schneider wrote in the letter. “Once again, we extend our deepest appreciation to each and every one of you for joining CoPTIC in this monumental effort. You should all be proud of this accomplishment!”

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