The coronavirus pandemic has impacted and challenged the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the United States, and members of the Interpreters United union in Washington State immediately set out to understand how those challenges might affect their own industry and lives – and how they might prepare their membership to overcome them.

Hundreds of the union’s members distributed and responded to surveys, providing information on the community’s hopes, concerns, and fears, and over the past two months, they welcomed 200 new union members and signed up another 200 nonunion interpreters as part of a new organizing drive.

One surveyed member respondes “I haven’t worked since March, and basically, my agency is not sending any more jobs to interpreters due to appointment cancellations and closure of the clinics. I used to be able to do four or five appointments a day, but now it’s just four to five a week. It’s a big difference.”

The union has worked to support its workers and the community they serve by negotiating access to interpretation services over the telephone, compiling a guide for navigating unemployment insurance, and running a campaign to ensure that all publicly funded interpreting appointments in Washington state are available to credentialed, in-state interpreters.

Read more about how Interpreters United is helping its members navigate the coronavirus here.