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Government Affairs October Update

Posted By Bill Rivers, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

JNCL-NCLIS extends its sympathy and concern to all of the people of Puerto Rico, and to those in Northern California affected by the wildfires there.

In news of the Department of Labor, the President’s nominee to lead the Wage and Hour Division, Cheryl Stanton, had a brief nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on October 4. View her prepared testimony. In her short remarks, she notes the role that the recession played in sending many state unemployment programs into debt. In conversations with colleagues in partner organizations in the business advocacy community, Ms. Stanton’s nomination is viewed favorably; she is seen as knowledgeable, experienced, and fair towards businesses and workers. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, to lead the Wage and Hour Division at the US Department of Labor.

As you’ve a seen in the media, the Congress and the White House must pass a number of critical bills before the end of the year. Funding for the remainder of 2018, an extension to the debt limit, among other items, will occupy Congress’ attention for the coming months. We will be advocating for our programs in the appropriations process, as well as pushing national solutions to the 1099-W2 issue. I expect that effort will gain momentum once Ms. Stanton is confirmed.

With Best Wishes,

Bill Rivers
Executive Director, JNCL-NCLIS

 

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ASTM--October Missive

Posted By Victor Hertz, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

A funny thing happened on the way to the standard.

Granted, that title would never make it on Broadway. It does, however, illustrate the sometimes-circuitous nature of ushering a standard through the approval process. Frustrating though the process can be, it is amusing (in hindsight) to note that the re-balloting was necessary for several reasons. Chief among these is the discovery that the ballot published had as its base a draft written almost three years ago--a draft which did not incorporate many of the changes made as a result of stakeholder feedback. I have no idea how this happened, but such are the mysteries of bureaucracy.
 
The new ballot (Draft 32, if you are keeping score at home) has been updated to incorporate a number of critical changes that, I hope you'll agree, are major improvements compared to the previously-balloted measure.

The ballot will make its debut on the ASTM website October 12, and I urge all members of ALC to vote in favor of adoption. If you have any questions as to your eligibility and/or details of the ballot, please feel free to reach out to me by email at vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com.

Respectfully submitted,

Victor Hertz
President
Accredited Language Services

 

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ASTM--September Missive

Posted By Victor Hertz, Thursday, August 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017

To my esteemed colleagues:

As Labor Day approaches here in the United States, our labors in bringing professional standards to our industry are still not complete. After considerable time and effort, it is the conclusion of the ASTM drafting committee that the Standard for companies will be slightly revised and will again be going to ballot after this Monday’s holiday.

As the ASTM editorial board has not accepted the changes that we previously attempted to make as acceptable within the parameters of a second ballot, we must return to a first-ballot standard. This means, in effect, that we require a 90% vote in favor or abstaining in order to pass the Standard to the next stage. Although the changes that we’ve instituted are relatively small, they do satisfy the concerns of a number of key players in the process, and in my personal opinion do represent improvements in the language of the document. I would urge you to respond positively to the upcoming ballot if you are a voting member of the ASTM. Proximate to the date when this ballot is launched I will, as a matter of courtesy, ask ALC to send an alert to each of you as a further reminder.

Meanwhile, wishing all our colleagues in Texas and Louisiana a speedy recovery from the catastrophic flooding that has inundated that part of the country, and hoping that everyone has a festive and safe Labor Day holiday.

Regards,

Victor Hertz

President

Accredited Language Services

 

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ASTM--August Missive

Posted By Victor Hertz, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

We’ve reached the dog days of August, and as temperatures rise, we are slowly moving toward a critical decision in the balloting of the new standard for Language Service Companies.

As previously noted, we hit a snag when the editorial watchdogs of ASTM deemed one of our edits to be a substantive change in content. When drafting the change (which was included to secure an affirmative vote from one of the voting members), we had considered it a minor clarification in terminology.

However, ASTM’s determination meant that we had two choices: 1) abandon the change, risking the loss of a crucial affirmative vote, or 2) incorporate the change, even though that would require that the entire standard be re-balloted. This, in turn, prompted a discussion of whether the requested change was critical to the standard, or if the document could be agreed to as written.

So at this time, we are wrestling with whether or not to return to a full ballot of the standard before the F-43 committee, which would require a 90% affirmative vote. Alternatively, it's possible that the holdout vote could be persuaded to vote in the affirmative and allow us to move to the second (and hopefully final) round of voting. If this is the case, we would be seeking the approval of two-thirds of the committee members to find any remaining objections to be non-persuasive.

I was hoping at the time of this writing that I could give you definitive word as to whether we’d be voting at the 90% level or the two-thirds level. As it currently stands, the jury is still out. Whichever way the decision goes, I will be calling upon you in the next few weeks to vote in favor of professionalizing and standardizing our industry at the company level.

If a vote is scheduled prior to my next post, I will ask the ALC to send an emergency blast to all members to alert you to the need for your participation in the voting process.

So, my friends, I close with an optimistic note of “stay tuned and hope for the best.”

Respectfully submitted,

Victor Hertz
President
Accredited Language Services
15 Maiden Lane (Suite 300)
New York, NY 10038-4011
p. 212-766-4111
f.  212-349-0964
vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com

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ASTM Update

Posted By Victor Hertz, Friday, July 7, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

As Independence Day has come and gone this summer, we have much to celebrate, both individually and collectively in our industry. That said, we still face an uphill battle in creating professional standards for Language Service Companies (LSCs) which will safeguard our future.

As I write this report, we have achieved the required number of affirmative votes to move to the next stage in adopting the ASTM standard for LSCs. However, we have now hit a new snag, which may derail the process and force us to re-ballot the standard.

In particular, the ASTM editorial committee has raised objections to some of the modifications made to the standard. These changes were undertaken to clarify certain points and reassure the voting members that the standard would satisfy their needs. Unfortunately, in some cases the adjustments were flagged as potentially substantial changes (as contrasted with changes that are editorial in nature).

It's incumbent upon me to inform the ALC membership that if those determinations stand, it may be necessary to re-ballot the standard in upcoming weeks/months. If so, you can rest assured that I will alert you to that necessity. With that said, I remain hopeful that this latest barrier to adoption will be remedied in short order, without the need to return to the previous balloting stage.

Meanwhile, I urge you to be patient as the standard wends its way through the consensus process within the ASTM.

In other news, I invite any and all ALC members to notify me of other initiatives that impact LSCs, whether they take place here in the US or abroad. I will also take this opportunity to mention a blog post that I've published on the evolving scope of our foundation standard and what that means for you and the industry.

Respectfully submitted,

Victor Hertz
President
Accredited Language Services
15 Maiden Lane (Suite 300)
New York, NY 10038-4011
p. 212-766-4111
vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com

 

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Labor Department rescinds expanded 'joint employer' rule

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By the Washington Examiner

The Labor Department announced Wednesday that it was rolling back an Obama administration rule that expanded the "joint employer" doctrine, the conditions for when one business can be held liable for employment and civil rights law violations at another company.

The move marks a win for business groups, which had staunchly opposed the Obama rule.

Read more ...

 

 

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Interpreters play a vital role in immigration courts — but their rights are being violated, labor board says

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

By the Los Angeles Times

The company tapped by the federal government to provide interpreters in immigration court wrongly classified employees as independent contractors and fired those who spoke out, the National Labor Relations Board said in a complaint issued Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that SOS International, also known as SOSi, misclassified workers and engaged in unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act, including coercion and retaliation. By misclassifying workers, SOSi circumvented labor laws that would require it to pay overtime and to provide certain benefits, such as workers’ compensation.

Read more.

 

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The Professional Linguist Perspective on Independent Contracting Report

Posted By The Association of Language Companies, Friday, May 12, 2017

Walnut, CA , May 10, 2017– US tax authorities have shown increasing interest in how professional linguists—interpreters and translators—conduct their business. Audits and penalties have been levied against many businesses in the US which contract for services with these linguists under an independent contractor arrangement.

A recent proposal was made to require all linguists to work only as employees, not as independent contractors. The key concern seems to be whether these independent small business people are being manipulated and misclassified in an effort to avoid paying taxes. The remedy would potentially force linguists to make duplicate tax payments across multiple employers, raising their cost of doing business. Companies working with these linguists would potentially bear the burden of higher employment taxes, reporting fees and other costs related to additional headcount.

InterpreterEd.com has conducted an independent, national survey of professional linguists to determine their perspectives on this proposal. The findings of this study are contained in the report “The Professional Linguist Perspective on Independent Contracting.”

The major findings of this study include:

  1. Nearly 80% of professional linguists perform work under an independent contractor arrangement.
  2. Nearly 90% of professional linguists feel it is important that they have the option to work as an independent contractor.
  3. Over 90% of professional linguists had more than one client during 2016.
  4. Freedom to choose assignments, a flexible schedule and freedom to set prices were the top benefits cited by professional linguists for being an independent small business person.

As one respondent noted:

“There is no reason for interpreters or translators to be treated as employees unless they decide to work for one client or one agency only and enter into an employment relationship. We are professionals who should have complete control over our own business.”

View the complete study report.

Download a printable PDF of the study report.

 

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ASTM Vote Status

Posted By The Association of Language Companies, Monday, May 8, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,
 
On the subject of industry standards, the most important agenda item that I’m aware of is the status of the ASTM foundation document.
 
In light of this, I cannot overstate the importance of supporting our initiative for a new standard. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have contributed to the standard, whether by assisting with the drafting process, voting in support of the standard, or simply by getting involved with the ASTM.
 
As I write this, we still remain one vote shy of the 90% threshold needed to move the standard forward. Efforts are ongoing to garner that vote, and I am optimistic. By the time the ALC meets in Miami on May 17th, we should know definitively if we have succeeded in passing that threshold. If we do succeed, we hope to ballot a final version of the standard starting on May 17th. This stage of balloting requires a 60% affirmative vote, and I encourage you to assist in that effort.
 
In the event that we are unsuccessful in reaching the 90% threshold, we will re-focus our energies on balloting a revised standard, and I look forward to your participation in that effort. Though I personally won’t be able to attend the Miami meeting due to a schedule conflict, I’m confident that my colleagues Kathleen Diamond, Susan Amarino and Bill Rivers will be successful in carrying us forward in this ongoing process. Thanks in advance for your active support.
 
Please note: there will be an ASTM meeting at the ALC conference on May 17th at 1pm. Consult your registration packet for the exact location.
 
If you have any questions about the standard, or about joining the ASTM, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com. Meanwhile, I wish everyone safe travels to Miami!
 
 
Regards,
 
Victor
 
 
Victor Hertz
President
Accredited Language Services
15 Maiden Lane (Suite 300)
New York, NY 10038-4011
p. (212) 766-4111
f.  (212) 349-0964
vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com
Celebrating Our 35th Year in Business

 

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ASTM F43 Standard--We Need Your Vote!

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 14, 2017

Dear Fellow ALC Members and Travelers,

I want to express my sincere pleasure in having met so many of you in Sonoma at the recent UNConference. As my maiden missive on the subject of industry standards, let me focus on the work currently proceeding in the ASTM.

What Is the ASTM?
For those who aren’t familiar with the ASTM, it's essentially a standards-setting body in the United States that acts (among other things) as a feeder organization to the ISO. The ASTM helps coordinate efforts to codify standards, both in manufacturing and service industries, in the U.S. and around the world.

The F43 committee, of which I have been a member for more than six years, is that section within the ASTM that focuses on the language industry. The membership of the F43 committee includes company owners, CEOs, practitioners, linguists and users of translation and interpreting services (such as US government agencies and private clients), as well as individuals with a general interest in language and linguistics.

Goals of the F43 Standard
For much of the time I've been involved with the ASTM, I and my colleagues have been working on a draft standard for language companies which will accomplish two major goals: 1) help professionalize companies within our industry, and 2) provide some differentiation within the industry among companies in order to help clients select who will best serve their needs.

In order to meet our first goal, the standard aims to establish a baseline definition of a “Language Services Company,” as distinct from an individual provider of interpreting or translation. To create, if you will, an aspirational set of criteria that can guide new and emergent companies in the language service sector.

The second goal is providing a mechanism to help clients decide whom to use. If successful, it follows that those companies that meet the proposed standard can justify a higher price for their services, since they will have proven their value-added proposition.

It is my belief (and the raison d’être of the F43 committee) that operational standards will offer mutual benefits to both the companies who adhere to them and the customers who purchase our services.

Where Do We Stand?
So after six years and more than two dozen drafts, which I and others have written (and re-written), where are we today? As of mid-April, we have garnered approval from the vast majority of committee members for a new standard. We are in fact mandated under the ASTM guidelines to achieve 90% affirmative votes within the full committee for the standard in question.

I had hoped, as of this writing, that we would have cleared the 90% hurdle.

However, we are still one vote shy of the 90% threshold required for us to move the standard forward. 

The critical issue is the metric for the size of the entity and the experience of the entity to meet de minimis standards. The current draft requires that “during each of its three years of continuous operation, the LSC [Language Services Company] shall have grossed at least $100,000 per annum and/or an aggregate of $500,000… for the language services for which it is seeking certification.” 

The rationale for this requirement is to demonstrate that a company has the necessary experience to serve its clients. By meeting this benchmark, a company is assumed to have sufficiently developed procedures and methods that ensure a properly functioning company and a quality deliverable.

We hope to secure the one vote needed in the next week or two in time to unveil the newly-adopted standard at the ALC Annual Conference in Miami.

I urge all and sundry to please get involved with the ASTM, and I welcome your emails and/or phone calls.

If you wish to learn more about the process, or be involved in future projects to move our industry forward, please do not hesitate to email me at vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com.

Respectfully submitted,

Victor Hertz
President
Accredited Language Services
vhertz@accreditedlanguage.com

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