Knowing a second language is about to pay off—literally. Rep. Michael Honda (D.—Calif.) proposed the “One America, Many Voices Act” which supports a five percent pay increase for federal employees who hold jobs that require a second (or more) language.
Honda stresses that this legislation, also known as the Bilingual Pay Bill, will rightfully recognize the necessity and value of those who are proficient in Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, Russian and Hindi—languages that are critical to our national security.
“To improve both our nation’s ability to provide language-appropriate intelligence and security, and America’s capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver government services, we must be able to retain a federal workforce that is capable of communicating with an increasingly diverse constituency, both within our borders and without,” Honda said.
With America’s population only growing more and more diverse, so too will the need for effective communication and business in various languages. Increased pay will undoubtedly entice these recruits, but even more so, the recruits will be driven to such jobs because they will feel wanted, appreciated and included by the government and their country.
The idea of a pay raise for bi- and multi-lingual employees is not just for the government sector and is not a new idea. In the corporate world, labor agreements have already been made between Verizon Wireless and the Communications Workers of America and between Kaiser Permanente and the Service Employees International Union to give workers with more than one language a higher income.
Honda published his own article on the matter and said, “Many voices make us more versatile in a globalized economy, more able to deal with national security concerns and more effective in delivering government services. It is high time we recognize this in Congress.”
Federal jobs, especially those in national security, handle sensitive topics here and abroad; an optimal way for our nation to interact internally and internationally is to have the cultural and linguistic knowledge in-house. Americans love their English, but as Honda stated, it’s high time to open your ears to the sounds of different languages that better the workforce of this country.