WILL CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS ELIMINATE OR INVITE FOREIGN COMPETITION?
Most of the members of the current ATA Board of Directors were unopposed candidates selected by Ann Macfarlane’s nominating committee. As President, she stated "There is no restriction in the ATA bylaws on nonmember
access to accreditation exams.That is a policy matter which the board decides."She also put this policy in writing, on page 8 of the June, 2001 ATA Chronicle: (see photocopy)
"Eligibility to apply for the credential will be extended to persons who are not members of the association;"
Associate Members and Active Members in good standing have the right to take accreditation examinations. That is what is written in the bylaws. Nowhere in those bylaws is it stated that nonmembers have the right to take accreditation examinations, to vote, or to serve on the Board of Directors. In order for the board to obtain power to change that policy, the bylaws would have to be amended by a 2/3 majority.
There is no shortage of translation agency executives, agents and subordinates
on the Board of Directors--nor unelected mecenary representation on the
Executive Committee. Their organizer, Ann Macfarlane--and her successors, Tom West, Scott Brennan
and Marian Greenfield--have not yet disavowed their intention to offer
ATA certification--which testing is a member right in the bylaws--to 6
billion nonmembers. To translation corporations, this would "qualify" as large a
pool of pauper labor as the agencies, through the ATA Board of Directors,
care to qualify.
Translation agencies in other countries already have easy access to that
same labor pool, but without the ATA credential, it is not easy for them
(or U.S. agencies, for that matter) to compete with individual freelance
translators in America. It is true that there are something like 100 members overseas, but that
is a very small number compared to 6 billion (0.00000001%). Observe that the new obstacles placed between members and the examinations include presentation of a foreign--Federation Internationale des Traducteurs--credential.
It is for this reason that access to the accreditation exams is restricted to members only--despite what nontranslator staff and agency representatives on our Board of Directors would like to believe. Indeed, the realization that this was so is probably what prompted them to want to change the name of the credential. If ATA directors wanted members to benefit from the credential, search engines would take people looking for translators directly to our online directory. Go ahead… try to find the online ATA directory by searching for a "Spanish translator".
To imagine for one second, therefore, that imposing unreasonable hardship on our handful of members overseas by means of "Continuing Education" will somehow eliminate foreign competition is to confess absolute ignorance of economic realities and current board policy. Do you really imagine that the same people who want to offer the credential to Third World paupers--who are not even members--are going to hesitate to redefine requirements so that they will favor that foreign pauper labor? What will become of America-based translators who require remuneration compatible with a United States standard of living?
To the extent that the Board of Directors is composed primarily of owners, agents and representatives of translation agencies, dominated by unelected professionals who specialize in taking over professional associations, it is not surprising that its policies are designed to represent those very same interests. If the Bill of Rights Amendment passes it will not in any way preclude member approval of "Continuing Education" requirements or certification of Third World pauper labor. It will simply restate the fact that any policy changes affecting member rights must be adopted in a legal, honest and democratic manner, according to the bylaws, and restate it in language which will not admit of any second interpretation. --FP