A few weeks ago I received an email from Travis County Criminal Courts. “Assignment Available,” it says. Most of the time I cannot respond, “I’m available!” fast enough. However, this time I got the job. Then, I get my check.
The amount was not for the standard 2-hour minimum, but for 1.5 hours. One of the 1st Thursday’s participants informed me of the County’s new policy. “The decision was to reduce the standard 2-hour minimum by 30 minutes because it’s not necessary to drive.” Right. Drive into a convoluted downtown where I pay a premium to park for a freelance job where I get no benefits. Insult to injury—Travis County has historically payed one of the lowest hourly rates in Central Texas. Surrounding counties pay at least 40% more.
It’s unconscionable during a pandemic that County administrators held a roundtable and discussed lowering wages for freelance interpreters. How much did the County actually save by imposing the rule? No trials are going on, so no huge bills from interpreters. They saved $32.50 per invoice.
Update: Ahead of Wednesday’s ‘No more masks’ mandate by Governor Greg Abbott, Travis County is now re-instating the historically low 2-hour minimum for interpreters.