The past two months have seen a number of developments affecting our industry. Foremost among them is the Dynamex v. California decision. A group of California based Language Service Companies, led by DLS Interpreting’s CEO, Naomi Bowman, has been working to understand the case, its implications, and how to respond. JNCL-NCLIS and ALC are working with Naomi and her colleagues, many of whom are owners ofALC member companies, to address this challenge.
For ALC, and for the language industry, it’s time to get smart about employee classification. While we work in DC to push for a clear path to compliance, and for sensible regulations, especially in terms of the Unemployment Act and its implementation at the state level (which drives the vast majority of employee classification issues), ALC members should avail themselves of the resources on the ALC website, and should definitely plan on attending the ALC Washington Leaders’ Forum on August 8th at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C., as well as the UnConference in Huntington Beach, January 17-19, and next year’s ALC Conference, May 1-4, also in Washington, D.C. JNCL-NCLIS is partnering with ALC in the Washington Leaders’ Forum, and will be partnering on advocacy events at both the UnConference and the Annual Conference. But there’s more - the UnConference allows you to network with other C-level leaders to learn and improve, and the Annual Conference has featured employee classification and labor law issues for the past several years. We owe ALC do-founder Bill Graeper a huge debt for raising this issue some 15 years ago, and staying on it for so long, but now is the time to get smart!
In more positive news, the Promoting Value Based Procurement Act of 2017 has been incorporated into the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019, in shortened form. The key provision reads:
(c) AVOIDANCE OF USE OF LOWEST PRICE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE SOURCE SELECTION CRITERIA IN CERTAIN PROCUREMENTS.—To the maximum extent practicable, the use of lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria shall be avoided in the case of a procurement that is predominately for the acquisition of—
(1) information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, or other knowledge-based professional services;
This applies to the whole Federal Government, and has been passed by the House of Representatives. Our next step will be to demonstrate to the Congress that what we do is indeed a “knowledge-based professional service,” and that work begins with you on August 8th!
Make Your Voice Heard Join ALC in Washington, D.C., on August 8!
Be part of ALC’s first Washington Leader Forum on August 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Held in partnership with the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), this Forum will convene leaders in the language industry to:
Learn about federal policy and regulatory issues facing the industry—including employee classification and government contracting—and what is being done to address them.
Meet with members of Congress and Executive Branch agencies with jurisdiction over issues of relevance.
Network with fellow industry leaders to strategize solutions to shared concerns.
Watch this video to hear from ALC President Rick Antezana on the importance of your participation in this event.
For more information and logistics for this important forum, visit the event website.
Registration is limited to 50 participants. The deadline to register is Friday, July 27, at 5:00 pm ET.
Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. With the daylight hours growing longer and the temperatures rising, many of you may be thinking of vacation plans. Ironically, that’s not what’s going on in the ASTM.
Within ASTM F43, there are a number of new initiatives being worked on. I thought as a change of pace I would draw your attention to these initiatives insofar as they impact Language Service Companies (LSCs).
Currently there are standards being written in subcommittees on terminology, translation and interpreting.
Within translation, there are in fact two standards being drafted: one dealing with the metrics by which translation quality might be measured, and the other dealing with translation in general. For those who provide translation services, this is of immediate import because what our colleagues are writing will make it very difficult for translation companies to operate.
For example, the current draft revision of Standard F2575 specifies minimum qualifications for employees working on a translation project. The subcommittee also has a section on compensation that defines guidelines for remuneration, which is quite intrusive. Further, there is language setting specifications for deliverables.
These three examples are not exhaustive. They are merely indicative.
Now, this is not to say that there aren't useful aspects to the work being done. There are. Moreover, if these standards were being drafted as Guides and not as prescriptive Practices, there would certainly be utility in discussing aspirational concepts.
But that is not the case. As matters currently stand, the translation subcommittee F43.03 is writing requirements (i.e. Standard Practice) as opposed to suggestions (i.e. Standard Guide). This means LSCs would be required to cede a great deal of control over who they hire, how much they pay, and how they prepare final deliverables.
I offer these comments not in a derogatory sense, but in the interest of transparency.
It is my sincere hope that the good work being done by the subcommittees continues. The prescriptive overreach, however, would literally kill companies. The onerous standards currently being contemplated within F3.03 not only are examples of extraordinary overreach, but also represent a metaphorical straitjacket that interferes with the functioning of LSCs in a real-world, competitive environment.
With all this in mind, I implore each of you to take an active role within the ASTM. We need your involvement and your participation in the collaborative processes, so that the standards being written (whether Guide or Practice) reflect the concerns of those affected by them. Equally importantly, we need your votes as each of these initiatives are balloted. As LSCs, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. Your livelihood is at risk.
Posted By Administration,
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Rockville, MD (May 10, 2018) — The Association of Language Companies (ALC) appointed its new president, officers, and directors at the 2018 ALC Annual Conference, held in Scottsdale, Arizona, April 25–28, 2018.
ALC’s new president is Rick Antezana, partner, Dynamic Language. “It’s a huge honor to be part of the group setting the direction for a great association like the ALC over the next year,” Antezana said.
“Having gotten to know the community since becoming a charter member 16 years ago, I am excited to team with this board to drive forward the initiatives we have planned. In particular, we’re looking for ways to bring more value to our members through educational programs that will help not only language company executives, but their staff members as well. We also want to establish deeper connections across the entire range of the industry, including with other organizations, vendors, and partners. Finally, we will be a leading force in helping to protect members of the entire U.S.-based language industry by helping to organize the effort to create clarity in the law and drive forward sensible legislation as it relates to Language Service Companies (LSCs) and Language Workers.”
The members of the 2018–2019 board of directors are as follows:
Rick Antezana, Dynamic Language – President Susan Amarino, Liaison Multilingual Services, Inc. – Vice President Gabriela Lemoine, Hispano Language Advisory – Secretary Kathleen Diamond, Kathleen Diamond & Co. – Treasurer Chris Carter, aLanguageBank – Immediate Past President Lelani Craig, CommGap International Language Services – Director Kevin McQuire, Atlas Language Services, Inc. – Director Melissa Meyer, Barbier International, Inc. – Director Bryan Montpetit, MontLingo Language Services, Inc. – Director Shamus Sayed, Interpreters Unlimited – Director Paul Tracy, Partners Interpreting – Director
The Association of Language Companies (ALC) is a national trade association representing businesses that provide translation, interpretation, localization, language testing, and language training services in the United States. ALC promotes the professional stature and economic position of the language service industry in the United States through industry advocacy and professional development.
The 2018 ALC Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, was amazing, and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to 2019 in Washington, D.C.! The Annual Conference and the UNConference present excellent opportunities to recharge, connect with peers in the industry, share best practices, and learn about how everyone is facing the latest challenges. Many thanks to all who attended the “Futureproofing” plenary and took the time to chat at the conference!
One of the perennial challenges facing our industry is the uneven and capricious auditing of independent contractors. While we are making progress at the national level to reduce the incentives provided by the Department of Labor to pursue misclassification issues and to establish consistent guidelines for compliance under the Unemployment Act, state governments continue to look at employee classification. In California, where many ALC members have prevailed in their appeals of misclassification audits, a recent court ruling threatens all of our progress. We’ve just started monitoring this development.
In Washington, D.C., we’ve had very productive meetings with the Department of Labor on a wide range of issues, including the methodology of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its prevailing wage determinations for our industry, the enforcement of the Service Contracting Act, and transitioning veterans into the language industry. We will provide updates as these initiatives move forward. We are still in the early days of the Trump administration, but as I said in Scottsdale, there’s a great deal of substantive support for the business world in D.C., and we will take every advantage of it.
Submitted by Bill Rivers, Ph.D., Executive Director Joint National Committee for Languages - National Council for Languages and International Studies
Now that my compatriots Kathleen Diamond, Bill Rivers, Susan Amarino et al have raised their glasses and toasted the official promulgation of our Standard Practice, we can take a moment to ask: What’s next?
Within ASTM I expect our subcommittee will focus on two of the largest verticals in the Language Service universe: Translation and Interpreting. Each of these will require a new Standard Practice.
“What is a Standard Practice?” you may be asking yourself. Briefly, a Standard Practice, as opposed to a Standard Guide, stipulates requirements that must be met in order to conform to the standard. A Guide, such as the extant translation Standard Guide F2575-14, is a less stringent protocol suggesting best practices. Only a Standard Practice can become the basis for certification by a third party.
Interestingly enough, this issue of Practice vs. Guide is arising in other subcommittees of the ASTM, such as F43.03. F43.03 is designated as the subcommittee for “Language Translation.” Our own subcommittee is F3.05, designated as the subcommittee for “Language Service Companies.” There is some sentiment within F43.03 that they should create a Standard Practice, which (in my opinion) would undercut our own efforts in F43.05. A similar rationale applies to the interpreting subcommittee, F43.01.
Without delving too deeply into the internal processes of the subcommittees, suffice it to say that there is some ambiguity in the responsibilities of the respective subcommittees.
Ideally (again, in my opinion), the other subcommittees should be focused on creating Standard Guides which describe best practices for their areas of expertise. The F43.05 subcommittee, by contrast, needs to create Standard Practice documents that will establish certification criteria.
Having laid out the rationale in the somewhat arcane language of the ASTM, what should go into a Standard Practice for, say, translation? That is the question. And in my next note I’ll address some of our current thinking.
Accredited Language Services
As spring slowly appears in the DC area—it was 35 °F the morning of April 10—we have a big development to report. Thanks to the tireless work of ALC's members who have attended Language Advocacy Days in 2017 and 2018, as well as the many companies that supported the work of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies through membership, contributions, and messages to Congress, we now have a robust bill in the House of Representatives; HR 3019, the “Promoting Value Based Procurement Act.” Sponsored by Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Don Beyer (D-VA), this bill would significantly restrict the federal government’s ability to use methods other than best value for the procurement of professional services. We’ve had success in the past two years with regard to the Congress requiring the Department of Defense to use Best Value procurement procedures for the acquisition of professional services; this bill would extend this to the entire government. Reverse auctions, lowest price technically acceptable, and other procurement approaches that we find wholly inappropriate would be banned under most circumstances. A special thanks goes to our Virginia delegates, including Barry Slaughter Olsen of Interpret America, Kathleen Diamond, and Giovanni Donatelli, for their engagement with Rep. Boyer’s office. The bill has passed the Government Affairs and Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives, and we are actively working with the offices of the Republican leadership to move this bill to the floor of the House.
We only have two weeks before ALC's Annual Conference in Scottsdale! I’m looking forward to talking with many of you at the conference as well as welcoming warmer climates!
As I mentioned in last month’s ALC Update, the Language Service Company (LSC) standard has officially passed, and we must now look to the future.
In particular, our next round of standards will deal with the specific requirements for different deliverables, including, but not limited to translation, interpreting, transcription, voice overs, subtitles, language assessment and training.
To that end, there will be an ASTM meeting during the upcoming ALC Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. That meeting will take place on April 25, 2018, from 1:00 pm–5:00 pm in the Alhambra 2 room.
Meanwhile, I want to take this opportunity to share my personal view on what we're trying to accomplish, both with this standard and the ones that are forthcoming.
For far too long, clients both in private industry and government (both within the United States and abroad) have stipulated that quality begins and ends with the certification of individual linguists. This trend shows no sign of abating, and has significant consequences for our industry and for LSCs in particular. We need to put forward the proposition that LSCs, which are held responsible and even liable for the services that are delivered, occupy the central role as the gatekeepers of quality among our clients.
To accomplish this, it’s imperative that LSCs be able to “prove” their competence and value-added expertise.
The standard recently passed, and the new standards yet to be written will provide the underpinnings for us to prove to our current and prospective clients that the quality they seek begins and ends with certified LSCs.
We've successfully put in place what I’ve dubbed “The Foundation Document” for this return to sanity, but much more still needs to be done. In particular, I'm looking for one or two volunteers to help me prepare an industrywide survey to aggregate information that would assist us in the next phase of creating and promulgating recognized standards for LSCs. If you're interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accredited Language Services
At long last, the Language Service Companies standard has officially passed!
This document will be the foundation for our subsequent work in the realm of standards for the language services industry. And, while we certainly have plenty to celebrate in the passing of this industry standard, we must not rest on our laurels.
The next phase will focus on additional standards for the specific language services that make up our industry: Translation, Interpreting, Transcription, Voice Overs, Subtitles, Language Assessment & Training, among others.
These individual standards will help to professionalize our industry by providing specific guidance unique to each service. In addition, these standards will allow us to address some of the feedback received during the drafting of the foundation document.
With that in mind, I want to issue a call for volunteers to help build the “walls” upon our “foundation” document.
If you would like to be involved with the drafting of a standard that coincides with your expertise, please email me at email@example.com.
Go ALC! It’s almost spring here in Washington, D.C., and as I write, we expect snow tonight. In other words, it’s time to think about ALC's Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, in May!
As we continue to follow up from Language Advocacy Days 2018 last month, we continue to emphasize the need to reform contracting for language services, and to address the data collection methods of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We will update on these issues as new developments arise, but our message is positively received and well understood on Capitol Hill.
Unfortunately, the larger political dramas in Washington, D.C., have stalled the nomination of Cheryl Stanton as head of the Wage and Hour Division, and have limited the bandwidth of our colleagues on Capitol Hill. Once Ms. Stanton is in place, we will continue our efforts to develop a clear path to compliance on employee classification under the Unemployment Act.