California Federation of Interpreters

Region 2 Bargaining Update #17

In our April 14th meeting the Union made it clear that having handed over our wage proposal, we were to begin this round at the table with their response and answer to this counter proposal.
This is how it went down today.
·       In the early morning it was clear to the team that the Region did not want to discuss any of the pending articles at all, particularly the wage issue.
 
·       The Region made it clear that the only issue on the table was to be our VRI counter proposal; we offered to exchange their wage response with our VRI proposal simultaneously to consider in caucus, and they refused.
 
·       Throughout the day the Region continued its refusal to meet and confer over not only our pending wage proposal, but all open articles unless they first received our VRI counter.
 
·       When we pressed for a response for our wage proposal handed over on April 14th, the response was terse if not insultingly angry bark that there would be No upward wage adjustment. They gave no explanation nor facts to back up why!
 
·       Despite a projected $68 billion state budget surplus, a projected $135 million for interpreters in the next fiscal year (an increase of $4 million), and based on the Region’s outdated allocation information, there are over $14 million of unspent funds, the Region contends that the financial situation was “too uncertain.”
 
·       No explanation of why other units in the courts were recently given livable wage adjustments (reporters, clerks), notwithstanding the supposed “uncertainty,” and language access workers are offered nothing.
 
·       The Region’s team refused to acknowledge and discuss the changes in the law regarding remote hearings and how VRI fits into the new landscape; nor did they understand or wanted to discuss the new phenomenon of “hybrid remote interpreting” in the courts.
 
·       The Region has informed us that they are going to impose their last offer on VRI impacts (we enclose it for your perusal); this effectively has separated the VRI (an obligatory subject of bargaining in the MOU … they proposed it first in Article 19 of the previous contract!) from the MOU table discussions.
 
·       We have been told by our counsel, Laurie Burgess, that this is illegal, that refusing to discuss mandatory subjects of bargaining, and/or separating out from the MOU negotiations is unlawful as well.
 
·       The Union is considering its legal options, and forums in which we may continue to fight this bad faith on the part of the Region.
 
·       We have provided at least 9 days in June to continue the discussion, as there are several articles open and still needing to be resolved.
 
·       At this point we want to thank the membership for their show of support in attending meetings regarding bargaining, for their participation in work actions and walkouts, like today, and for their consistency and resolve to get a livable wage and respect for our profession in and amongst the other units in the courts.
 
·       Your mobilizers and the bargaining team will be reaching out with more information and plans for our next steps soon. 

In unity… Your Region 2 Bargaining Team

Region VRI Counter Proposal

 

Region 2 Bargaining Update #16

Update for April 14, 2022 Bargaining Session with Region 2 Courts

Today’s bargaining session was all about the wages … it was the main topic of discussion, if not a downright bone of contention.

A very detailed presentation was given by our team:

o   Pilar: financial hardships for interpreters in the region, including housing and inflation.
 
o   John: explained interpreter specialized skillset and professional formation/credentialing, how that coincides with commensurate wages (court reporters and certified federal interpreters)
 
o   Janet: covered the budget and allocation of interpreter funds; there is sufficient money in the interpreter budget and unused allocations from each court in the region for getting to a livable wage.

During vigorous, and at times heated discussions the courts responded with some of the following replies and comments to our wage presentation.

When asked if the Region’s team agreed that we have a specialized skillset that requires compensation equal to, or greater than certified federal court interpreters and state level employee court reporters, Monna Radulovich’s replies were obviously misinformed, if not disappointing. “Federal interpreters are very different; they are paid more because they are required to do clerical work when not interpreting.”

The reply regarding lack of wage parity with court reporters, a group with similar requisites (active licensing, continuing education, certification exams, professional preparation expenses) the courts’ replied that “we’ve already discussed this.” Additionally, the courts’ explained that reporters are represented by other unions or are folded into other larger units. Although they recognized there are similarities, we were dismissed with “the marketplace is significantly different for court reporters,” and “the reporter field is disappearing.” Our presentation clearly shows that employee interpreters are disappearing as well.

In the end we were told that Region 2 interpreters are the highest paid in the state, if not the nation. It seemed they completely ignored the part of the presentation highlighting that the present wage does not translate into the ability to live in Region 2, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, when it was pointed out to the Region’s team that there was a 37% rise in the cost-of-living compared to the median income range, they completely ignored that the present wage scale for interpreters is BELOW the median income range, thereby making our hardship more than a 37% increase.

When the Region was asked why they believe that the reporter skillset deserves to be remunerated more than the interpreter skillset, the reply was redirected, stating that others in the courts contribute to the functioning of justice, and even though all court employees are equally valued, some of these others are paid at a lower rate.  Question avoided …

The Region continued to assert that when comparing interpreters to others in the courthouse the marketplace is different (whatever that meant?), there is more disparity in workforce availability, and particularly with court reporters, their responsibilities are different. Both interpreters and court reporters have a responsibility to the integrity of the record.

In the end, the Region is somewhat dishonest regarding comparisons between court workers. Our team gave a presentation with verifiable and well-sourced data contained in copious pages (herein attached). During the wage reopener we asked them to do a wage parity study; some two years later they still have not undertaken a study, nor have they presented any data or studies whatsoever supporting their failure to give us a wage increase in line with court employees with comparable skillsets.  

In conclusion, the Region did express that they would review all the information, as well as the wage proposal, and take it to their “principals” (generally the court CEO’s and a group of presiding judges). We set a tentative bargaining date for May 3rd; after vigorous discussion, the Region agreed to give the team a paid caucus day, to be determined later.

This team remains fully committed to be the voice of the members and represent what the membership needs to come out of these bargaining sessions. There will be meetings; there will be continued work actions. Your continued participation will get all of us what we need to live and work in Region 2.

When we fight, we win.

Your Region 2 Team

Article 22 - Wages and Other Compensation

Complete budget & Index

Inflation Index with supporting docs

Inflation and Housing - Interpreters' Syndicate Presentation

Credentials Final 

 

 

CFI Local 39000 Elections Results

March 26, 2021

The ballots for the new Region 1 Representative Executive Board Position 2022 - 2023 were counted at the CFI offices in Santa Fe Springs.

The official results:

Region 1 Representative    Begonya De Salvo

Click here to view the Ballot Tally Certification from the Election Committee

 

Region 2 Bargaining Update #15

Virtual Session 3/16/2022

This is what union power is about: strength in unity…  

After the Courts offered a take-it-or-leave-it offer of no wages and other onerous proposals, they decided their strategy was going to be arguing over whether to allow our members to attend as observers during the bargaining session. There was upwards of over sixty members statewide who connected via Zoom to support the Region 2 interpreters. The courts’ team stated that they were “intimidated” and that the Union had “crossed the line!” The Region’s team was so unsettled they threatened to cancel the bargaining date unless the Union limit the attendees to ten Region 2 observers. Lamentably, this wasted three hours of precious meet time today, as the Region went into isolation to caucus five times over this one issue. In good faith and in an effort to move the

bargaining forward, we agreed to Region 2 members only, and that they be visible on camera at all times. 

We finalized and signed off on four tentative agreements (attached): 

Article 16 – New Employee Information and Orientation. 
Article 26 – Professional Conduct, Standards, and Conditions.
Article 29 – Health & Safety.
Article 36 – Payroll Deductions and Dues. 

The MOU articles that we worked on today are:

Article 8 – Discipline and Discharge.
Article 23 – Benefits.

In Article 8 the Union is proposing that employee interpreters have the right to remove any negative disciplinary write ups after a period of time. Presently suggested, and exactly similar to clauses in Regions 1 and 4, is that after a two-year period without further disciplinary incident, the employee may have the record removed from their personnel file. This was rejected outright, even though the two largest Regions have it as standard in their MOUs. The explanation given is that “it’s not good HR policy to remove any disciplinary record from anyone’s file.” Additionally, the Region further explained that “it has a prophylactic effect to deter future violations.” Geez, even ex-felons get off supervised probation after an average of three years!
In Article 23 there were two proposals: 

1.     Any benefit not specifically covered in this article will be tied to the largest non-managerial bargaining unit.
 
2.     Any bargaining unit member of a local trial court in Region 2 who is on the local’s Executive Board will be on paid Organizational Leave status for the tenancy of their office. Presently, the term of office for officers of CFI Local 39000 TNG-CWA is two years.
 
A result of the Region’s panic attack at the table is that our counter wage proposal (Article 22) did not get presented. Contrary to the Region’s offer of nothing, our proposal starts with a base wage with which interpreters can afford one’s basic needs (housing, food, gas, utilities, etc.) … a livable income. For more details, attend member meetings to be scheduled starting next week.
 
Interestingly enough, and probably out of desperation, the Region 2 Courts suggested mediation. We disagree. In mediation we would be giving away our bargaining power to a third party. It is not a transparent process; parties are not allowed to disclose whatever is discussed. As far as we are concerned, there is still a lot of negotiation to do … and work actions more of every sort to get our point across. 

Stay alert, there will be mobilization meetings scheduled for next week. Plan to attend and lend a hand! 

The next bargaining session dates are still to be determined, aiming for the month of April … we will inform as they become known.

In unity,
                        
Stephany Magaña       Laurie Burgess, Esq.
Rosario Espinosa         Janet Hudec
Michael Ferreira

Region 2 Articles - Tentative Agreements

 

 

CFI Interpreters Support Their Colleagues in Region 2

When we fight, we win! 

Below are groups of members throughout the state who are spontaneously sending us photos to voice their support for Region 2 work actions. 

 

In solidarity,

CFI Local 39000 TNG-CWA

 
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