August 22, 2014
Dear Massachusetts Court Interpreters,
The Board of Directors of the New England Translators Association (NETA), the largest association of translators and interpreters in New England, has learned of the attempt by the new administrators of the Office of Court Interpreter Services to make drastic cutbacks by replacing the half-day/full-day payment system with a strict hourly rate. This will not only greatly affect the ability of per diem court interpreters to make a decent living, it will, crucially, affect the quality of interpreting services in the Massachusetts courts.
We understand that interpreters must clear their schedules of all other potential work to make the time to appear in court. It is only reasonable that a minimum of half a day’s compensation be made available to interpreters under these circumstances.
We understand that courts in the United States are mandated under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to provide interpreting services to largely immigrant, low English proficiency (LEP) members of the community. How could our legal system function without interpreters? And what do these new policies say about the priorities of state government in light of changing demographics?
We believe that all attempts to cut compensation to these highly skilled practitioners will do nothing but drive them out of the profession, leaving this population underserved. More work for less money is not acceptable. Nor is video-based interpreting an adequate substitute for live interpreters on the scene who can respond to cues and screen out distractions.
Therefore, on behalf of our members, the Board of Directors of the New England Translators Association fully supports the efforts of the court interpreters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to organize in defense of their livelihoods and of the people they serve, and to ensure that no cuts in court interpreter services are made. We further pledge our assistance in the future in whatever way is feasible for us and makes sense to you.
The Board of Directors
New England Translators Association