SANTA ROSA _ CFI honored veteran interpreter Aurelio De Los Santos Ortiz for his decades of service and advocacy for equal access to justice during the membership meeting and seminar Saturday.
Aurelio became a certified interpreter in 1973 but sought work elsewhere because of the low wages. For the next 10 years, Aurelio devoted himself to organizing tenants in Los Angeles.
By 1983, he was back in the San Joaquin Valley and took up interpreting again. But he found a negative attitude toward interpreters and an adverse work environment.
“We started conspiring. We gotta do something about his,” he recalled.
He and other colleagues banded together to lobby, protest and denounce the injustice they saw daily as court interpreters.
Aurelio is one of the original founders of Bay Area Court Interpreters (BACI), a group that helped increased compensation for court interpreters. BACI later merged with the California Federation of Interpreters and affiliated with TNG-CWA, Local 39521 to pursue employment status, collective bargaining rights and full benefits for those interpreters interested in employment with the state courts.
During his recognition, Aurelio urged newer interpreters who now enjoy the hard fought pay and benefits to learn the history and continue advocating.