More than six months since a national health emergency was declared, our lives continue to be shaped by the global pandemic. We’re all eagerly awaiting the development and distribution of an effective vaccine and a return to normalcy. In the meantime, ATA’s dedicated volunteers and staff continue to work on your behalf.
Registration for a fully virtual ATA61 is open and work on the conference is in the final stages. See President-Elect Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo’s column for an update and details on this history-making event. Given the extremely affordable total cost of attendance for this virtual event thanks to the elimination of travel and lodging expenses, I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if we even set a record for the number of first-time attendees and nonmember attendees. It’s possible ATA61 could be the largest ATA Annual Conference in history. It will almost certainly change the nature of the conference, as it’s hard to imagine that future conferences will not have at least some virtual component going forward.
The Annual Meeting of Voting Members will be held in conjunction with the Annual Conference. In addition to the election of three directors, there are two proposed Bylaws amendments on this year’s ballot. Both amendments would have a major impact on ATA if approved, so I encourage all voting members to educate themselves on the proposals and vote. You can read the statements from this year’s candidates and the proposed Bylaws amendments in this issue. (I’ll note for the record that two additional member-proposed Bylaws amendments failed to make the ballot because the minimum signature requirement was not satisfied.)
Also on the governance front, the Board of Directors held a virtual meeting August 1–2 and dealt with a number of important topics and passed quite a few resolutions. One of the first items taken up was ATA’s finances. The Board discussed the treasurer’s report1 and ATA’s financial outlook. Due to the major economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic, the Board took the unusual step of approving a final budget for the next fiscal year only. Each year, the Board normally approves a final working budget for the next year and draft budgets for the next two subsequent years.
On a related issue, the Board also discussed the economic uncertainty faced by our members and took two actions to ease their financial burden somewhat. First, the Board voted to waive an automatic dues increase that would have gone into effect on January 1 under the existing policy that links dues to the rate of inflation. Dues for 2021 will therefore remain at the current level. In addition, the Board approved offering renewing members an option to pay their dues in two installments instead of all at once. While these two actions are relatively minor in the big scheme of things, they demonstrate that the Board is always thinking about our members and how we can help them professionally.
The Board also approved several other resolutions, some of an administrative nature such as setting the date of record for eligibility to vote in the 2020 election and appointing an inspector of elections. More substantive resolutions concerned revisions to the Board Guidelines for Board Members, the Member Resolutions Policy to eliminate some inconsistencies and streamline the process, and revisions to the Elections Policy to clarify the responsibilities of the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee.
The Board also agreed to allow members to attend the Fall 2020 Board meeting even if it’s online (as expected) and to develop guidelines for members observing such online meetings by addressing some technical and legal issues arising from virtual meetings.
The Advocacy Committee, which I chair, was very busy the past few months working to obtain an exemption to California’s AB 5, which has been disastrous for freelance translators and interpreters in California. Several bills have been introduced to address the issue and ATA has worked closely with the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) to have professional translators and interpreters exempted from the ABC test and placed under professional services. On August 17, the day I wrote this column, I, along with more than 50 other language professionals, called into a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee to speak in opposition to AB 2257 unless it’s amended to provide just such an exemption.
As we go into the second half of a year that has presented us all with unprecedented challenges, ATA will continue its work on your behalf promoting our vital profession and helping you advance your career. I would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who selflessly donate their time to make ATA the Voice of Interpreters and Translators.
1. Milan, John. “Treasurer’s Report,” The ATA Chronicle (July/August 2020), http://bit.ly/treasurer-report.