There are several things that RID, through its member sections, councils, committees, and task forces, and that state affiliate chapters, can do that may relate to rates/fees and other conditions of employment / engagement. These things must still be done with extreme care and consideration and the antitrust risks associated with them should be assessed prior to implementation.
a. You can petition the government.
There is an exception to antitrust laws that allows associations and its affiliates to petition government entities, such as state agencies and commissions and legislators, and raise issues that would otherwise trigger antitrust concerns. The goal of representing RID members before such entities is to improve the information upon which governmental decisions are made.
b. You can collect and share historical price data.
The FTC, a federal agency that enforces antitrust laws, created a safe harbor for collecting and disseminating historical rate/fee information. (A safe harbor is a provision that specifies that certain conduct will be deemed not to violate a given law, in this case antitrust law.) So, if an affiliate chapter, member section, council, committee, or taskforce follows the safe harbor guidelines, it can collect data on rates and fees in the market area and disseminate it to members. Here are some key factors to consider before collecting and disseminating this kind of information:
- Rate/fee information must be at least 3 months old.
- The information must be collected confidentially. Interpreters cannot learn what rates/fees other interpreters are charging. To ensure that raw data isn’t shared among competitors, it would be prudent to work with an outside entity to conduct the survey.
- When the results are disseminated, there should be no information included that would enable members to ascertain the identity of those charging a specific rate or fee. This is particularly true for listing information by geographic area when there is only one interpreter working in that area.
c. You can communicate your members’ concerns to the appropriate entity.
Affiliate chapters, member sections, councils, committees, and taskforces can communicate members’ concerns to a hiring entity, if extreme caution is exercised. The concerns cannot be communicated in a way that could be construed as an express or implied threat to collectively boycott a particular contract or hiring entity. Any message should be prefaced by an explanation that every member acts independently in the market and that you are not attempting to influence rates or negotiate rates on behalf of your members Show that you understand antitrust law, say “We are not negotiating rates on behalf of our members.”