Who Won the Right for L&I Interpreters to Unionize? We Did.

Let's look back to 2009. As Medicaid and social services interpreters, 38 percent of our pay went to language companies and brokers in the "Broken Brokers System." (Sound familiar?)

Appointments ending early meant less money than expected, and late cancellations and no shows meant no pay at all.

We had no protections against claw backs.

Today, we enjoy a strong voice in our profession and double the wages we were earning 10 years ago. How did it happen?

We Made History

In the winter of 2010, we teamed up with Interpreters United (WFSE/AFSCME) to pass a historic bill that gave Medicaid and social services interpreters the right to form a union.

It was a first in the history of the United States. Hundreds of interpreters from across the state headed to the capital to push the bill through.

That fall, we held a union election and voted 95% UNION YES, and Interpreters United was born.

But Things are STILL Unfair for L&I Interpreters

  • Interpreters aren't remimbursed for their time if a patient cancels an appointment at the last minute or doesn't show up. 

  • Interpreters taking L&I appointments have no protections if they are overpaid by L&I. We must repay the money, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars, immediately. 

  • Interpreters are paid by the minute, meaning that if we spend 10 minutes at an appointment we earn very little. 

  • We have no union and therefore no way to file a grievance, speak as a unified body, or negotiate with the state over wages or our work conditions.  

 That's Why We Won the Right for L&I Interpreters to Unionize

Interpreters United stands for genuine fairness for ALL interpreters.

In March of 2018, Gov. Inslee signed our union's priority bill into law, which gave L&I interpreters the right to hold an election to decide whether or not they want to form a union.

By organizing for power with Interpreters United (WFSE/AFSCME), L&I interpreters will have the opportunity to negotiate for:

  • Hourly Minimum Per Appointment
  • Protection Against Claw Backs
  • Reimbursement for Late Cancellations/No-shows
  • A Voice in Our Profession

By joining together in Interpreters United (WFSE), DSHS/HCA interpreters have already won these benefits. It's time to further our movement! 

Help Us Form a Union for L&I Interpreters