Washington State was caught discriminating against non-English speaking healthcare providers.
In April 2016, the Freedom Foundation won a victory on behalf of in-home caregivers eliminating the requirement for providers to sit through a 30-minute union membership pitch at the beginning of the state-mandated meetings.
Sadly, providers are often still not informed the union pitch is voluntary — and in some cases illegally forced to attend or led to believe it is required.
In Southwest Washington, there are several IP contracting appointments each week. The Freedom Foundation sends canvassers to these meetings to inform attendees about their Constitutional rights while they wait in the lobby.
Case management supervisor Sandy Phillips of the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington called to inform me our canvassers do not have the right to speak to interpreters for non-English-speaking, home healthcare providers. Interpreters are hired, however, to interpret the union and the state’s information during the contacting appointment.
I informed Phillips that she was mistaken; she does not get to decide who we are and are not allowed to speak with.
She informed me she was going to call the company they hire to interpret, and she was going to instruct them not to interpret while in the public lobby.
Let’s think about this for a moment.
Our objective is simply to inform people of their Constitutional rights in the lobby of a public building. Meanwhile, the state — which hires an interpreter at taxpayer expense in order to help the union make its sale pitch — actually wants to order the interpreter to let attendees hear no other point of view.
Are the interpreters even being paid before the meeting begins? If not, what right does the state have to censure them?
And if they are on the clock before the meeting, the state’s instructions amount to an order not to do their job.
Moreover, why is a government employee — who presumably represents everyone’s interests — so intent on helping the union and preventing healthcare providers from hearing anything other than its propaganda?
Phillips insists she doesn’t take sides. But her actions say otherwise, and this isn’t the first time she’s interceded on the union’s behalf.
This same state employee has taken it upon herself to distribute leaflets warning those coming to the contracting appointment that we will be there and that they do not have to talk to us and can refuse the information we have for them.
If only she were half as conscientious about informing caregivers they don’t have to listen to the union, either.
And what if they choose not to sit through the union’s pitch, is the interpreter paid to just sit in the lobby and not speak to the client for that 30 minutes?
Call Sandy Phillips at the Aging Area for Disabilities, (360 735-5796, and tell her what she is doing is wrong.
Everyone — even those who struggle to understand English — has a right to know their rights. If the state isn’t going to take responsibility for sharing this information, the very least we have a right to expect under the law is that its representatives won’t throw obstacles in the path of those who will.