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Calling California Linguists: January Is Make or Break Time for Action on AB 5

Have you called your two state legislators in the last two weeks? Now is the moment for all of us to step up before the end of January to ask lawmakers to fix AB5 with new legislation that EXEMPTS language professionals.

By taking just a few moments of time this week you can help tip the scales!

Click here and then follow the "find by address" link to identify your Assemblymember and Senator. Lookup their local and Sacramento office phone numbers and call them both.

The message is simple: Lawmakers need to fix AB5 to protect language professionals (and many other traditionally freelance professions) from the unintended consequences of this law. Ask for new legislation that provides a full exemption for translators and interpreters.

CoPTIC, the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California, has provided easy-to-use materials to guide you through the most effective ways to communicate with your lawmakers.

Your actions are truly making a difference! Your calls, your visits, your stories in the many news articles that have been published around the state and the US, are having a real impact. The legislature is back in session, and this is the week to really put the pressure on.

AB5 doesn't protect a profession like ours...

Nine years ago, at InterpretAmerica's second-ever summit, we went through a lot to highlight the already hot debate over misclassification of interpreters. The root of this debate is the same now as it was then: our field simply cannot be fit into a single mold.

Interpreters and translators work in a diverse array of industries and deliver services using onsite and online modalities, often crossing state and international borders to do so. No one-size-fits-all employment model will ever work. Only a small number can ever be hired as employees for languages in highest demand. The rest of us, the great majority, work as freelancers, often for multiple agencies.

Fast forward to present day. Language professionals in California are now experiencing the very real consequences of a misguided, one-size-fits-all bill that seeks to impose a simplistic solution to exploited "gig workers" by classifying almost all independent contractors as employees. The glaring catch? Interpreters and translators are not gig workers.

AB 5 has been making headlines nationally for more than a year. (See our previous blog posts.) Now that the law has taken effect, stories are pouring in from interpreters and translators whose contracts are drying up and who suddenly cannot make a living. Confusion reigns among language service companies, the ones who will be audited for compliance. In the absence of clear guidance about who and who is not an independent contractor, many are asking linguists to go to extreme measures to prove they are incorporated as a business. The result is very real chaos, uncertainty and economic harm.

Find your voice; tell your story!

News coverage is tracking these developments well. Vulnerable populations are at particular risk of losing their livelihood because of AB5.

Women, people with disabilities and immigrants rely on the flexibility and control that working as independent contractors gives them. And, as it turns out, women, immigrants and people with disabilities also rely on the irreplaceable language bridge freelance interpreters and translators provide.

It could be considered ironic, if the real-life consequences were not so dire, that AB5 comes on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. This is surely not the legacy those who fought hard to pass ADA would want.

Use your own story, or cite any of these powerful articles to help you when you contact your lawmakers:

The good news is that we have a concerted, organized effort underway to help us get this law fixed. The fight is right now. A month from now may very well be too late. Then share these links far and wide with our colleagues and supporters so they can take action too!

Together We CAN #FixAB5:

Stay connected with CoPTIC!


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