Telephone interpreting (OPI) provider Linguistica International Inc has found itself in the hot seat again — this time in Michigan.
In January and February, MultiLingual reported on the controversy brewing between the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company and New York City, where New York Daily News reported it pays contract interpreters as low as $4 per hour. To the company’s credit, these interpreters are not based in New York where minimum wage is $15, rather in Mexico. Linguistica International holds a five year, $10 million contract with the New York City Department of Education and — together with other language services providers (LSPs) — a $48 million contract with New York Health + Hospitals. After MultiLingual and Daily News‘ initial reports regarding interpreter wages, Daily News says New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s office “referred the matter” of interpreter pay to the city’s department of investigation (DOI) for review.
Since then, Local 1549 of DC 37 AFSCME, a laborers’ union representing New York City clerical workers — including interpreters — has complained to the New York City Council’s General Services Committee, claiming city agencies should hire local interpreters at fair wages “rather than foreigners at pay of as little as $4 per hour,” Daily News reports. The scandal has also prompted the union to advocate for the city hiring full-time interpreters directly as opposed to working through LSPs.
Now, Linguistica International is also being criticized in Michigan, where Capital News Service reported March 5th on the same wages paid, quoting one of the company’s former interpreters as saying, “They’re like this monster who’s trying to feed from you, and they feed and they throw you away whenever they need to.” The company is contracted to provide multiple State of Michigan departments with OPI through September 2023.
On a call with MultiLingual, Kelcey Kintner, director of media strategy for Linguistica International’s public relations firm Red Banyan, said the interpreter who provided Daily News and Capital News Service with wage documentation has been “terminated.” She then accused MultiLingual of writing “a hit piece” and of “being abusive” before hanging up on our reporter.
Note Linguistica International Inc is not affiliated with the United Kingdom-based LSP of the same name.