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AB5, which went into effect January 1st, has caused a lot of controversy over the past few months as it reclassified interpreters and translators in California as employees, and no longer as independent contractors. Given that over 75% of practicing interpreters and translators in California are independent contractors, AB5 has threatened the livelihood of many language professionals. However, a newly drafted state legislation bill aims to provide a path to undo the damage of AB5.

SB 900, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, provides a set of conditions, including credentials, whereby practicing interpreters and translators can continue to operate and serve Californians. The bill protects access to essential language service by Californians, including people with disabilities or with limited English proficiency, crucial to every aspect of daily life in California. SB 900 aso prevents cutoff of highly trained professionals, led by women- and immigrant-run small businesses, who are the backbone of a growing $2 billion sector of the California economy.

Language organizations continue to work with legislators to finetune the bill. CoPTIC (Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California) advocates met with Sen. Jerry Hill ahead of the bill’s introduction. Other organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA), the American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS), and the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) have united in support of the new bill.

“Interpreters and translators are an essential lifeline for Americans in every sector of society, including public health. SB 900 respects the hard-won expertise and restores the capacity to practice by thousands of linguists in California who, like the overwhelming majority of our profession, work independently or self-employed. We look forward to the continued improvement of this bill and its approval this year”, said Bill Rivers, executive director of the JNCL.

If you work in California and feel passionate about this issue, find your legislators here, and email or call them to further educate them on the independent and highly skilled nature of the interpreting profession.

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