California Federation of Interpreters

Update - Regions 2 and 3


Santa Cruz and Mendocino Work Actions

COASTAL NORTHERN CA (Aug 1, 2017)_ Your staff interpreter colleagues in Santa Cruz and Mendocino were walked out on both ends of Region 2 yesterday to protest unilateral changes in pension contributions and the Region's refusal to bargain over the increases.

The Santa Cruz one-day, unfair labor practice (ULP) protest was called to highlight the Court's recent decision  to unilaterally impose changes in benefits that will mean a 3.7% cut in take home pay for Santa Cruz interpreters.  Mendocino cut the staff interpreter's paycheck by 7.8% in October by unilaterally implementing the pension changes.  

Other court employees in the majority of Region 2 courts received wage increases to offset increased benefit costs, but the Region 2 courts refuse to do the same for interpreters.

The Union filed a ULP charge and the Public Employment Relations Board issued a complaint against the Region for refusing to bargain over similar changes in Santa Clara, Marin, Contra Costa and San Mateo. The charge was amended to include the Santa Cruz changes.

This unequal treatment is the reason our wage growth has lagged so far behind other court workers. This affects all of us because staff interpreter pay and the official Judicial Council per diem affect the entire market for our services. The official contractor pay rate has not gone up since 2007. We are all being undervalued by the California trial courts and we will all benefit from uniting in support for fair compensation.


Sacramento and San Joaquin Interpreters Picket
Defend Language Access; Protest Pay Inequities

SACRAMENTO, CA (July 30, 2017)_ After a year of negotiations and three-months of delay since the last bargaining session, a mediation session this Wednesday in Sacramento provides one more chance for Region 3 and CFI to reach a settlement that your bargaining team can recommend for ratification. 

Interpreters rejected a Last Best and Final Offer presented by the Region last March and the Courts' negotiator refused to consider a counter proposal from the Union in May. Interpreters met to discuss the issues in June and voted to authorize a strike with participating interpreters voting 100% in favor.

At issue are wages and proposals by the Region to deteriorate employee rights. The proposals would allow courts to waive the use of staff interpreters, and make it harder to protect our work. Several  proposals would make it easier for Courts to use unqualified interpreters by eliminating members' rights to challenge bad practices that are contrary to the Judicial Council's statewide Language Access Plan. 

Court Interpreters Walk Out in 4 Counties
Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 30, 2017) _ Region 2 court interpreters walked off the job mid-morning Friday to rally in San Francisco at Judicial Council headquarters. Dozens of interpreters joined the protest, chanting, “1-2-3-4 we won’t take it anymore, 5-6-7-8 JCC Discriminates!” 
After nearly a year without a contract, the protest was held to bring attention to the Region's unfair labor practices and demand that the Judicial Council address unequal pay and the compensation system that results in disparate impacts on court interpreters, and undermines justice for the immigrant communities that rely on language access daly in our courts.

Colleagues who work for the courts as independent contractors joined the protest to show unity in our common cause for pay and compensation that matches our professional skills.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi came out to march in solidarity with interpreters.

Adachi said his office now sends lawyers to immigration court where interpretation standards are much lower, and clients don't receive simultaneous interpretation of the entire proceeding. He pledged his support in our struggle for fair wages and in the fight against what he called "cheap justice."

We know we can count on Adachi as an ally in our efforts to defend high standards for language access in California's trial court


R2: Unexpected Return to Bargaining Table

In a positive development, the Region asked CFI’s bargaining committee to return to the table after last week’s mediation failed to yield an agreement, and on Thursday the parties confirmed a meeting for Friday afternoon. 

Both sides came back to the table motivated to reach a settlement on outstanding issues. Several non-controversial, non-economic issues were cleared up, and both sides offered compromise positions on other issues, including a conceptual agreement to resolve the two step advancement issues. 
While these developments are encouraging, a number of sticking points remain, significantly that the Region wants a longer agreement and the Union is unwilling to extend the term with interpreters getting zero in wage relief for the past year. The Region is also holding up an agreement, inexplicably, over a proposal to deteriorate current terms for night court pay that the Region had not previously made clear, as would be expected, by showing strike through of existing language in a written proposal. 
The Region did not make a written proposal Friday, did not come to the table with authority to fully resolve outstanding issues, and was not able to offer bargaining dates this week. As a result the Union said it will forge ahead with plans for work actions while strike plans are finalized.  


Update from the bargaining team in Region 1

August 3, 2017 

The parties met on Monday July 31st at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Michael Ferreira was on vacation so alternate Kathleen Sinclair participated in his place.  The CFI team had prepared their entire proposal package and had them approved in advance through the TNG Bargaining process. The court was represented by Joe Wiley, and did not arrive with any prepared proposals.
The Union presented a number of proposals regarding housekeeping changes and cleanup of numbering issues, and adding addresses, AB119 access for the Union to new employee orientations, Union participation in investigatory meetings, and clean, safe resting areas for interpreters between assignments.
The Court indicated that its biggest issues included Articles 16 and 18 (Employment Status and Assignments); and the rebalancing of vacation benefits based on recordkeeping issues between the County and the Court.   The Court had no specific proposals or details to provide the bargaining committee.
The Court expressed its desire to have the terms of this negotiation remain “positive” however, it immediately shut down any attempts from the Union to make in-roads regarding caucus time, travel time to bargaining for the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara representative, and backfilling of employees while they are engaged in collective bargaining.
Doris Vick wrote an update to the Central Coast members:
“The meeting started cordial enough. Stephanie Robbins was there for SBSC and Julie Zorn was there for SLO.  LA had 6 people (Superior court attorney, LAP Services, LAP Equality rep, Assignment coordinator ...and I can´t remember the title of the others).  We went over ground rules.  Wiley said in the past they didn´t have any because the union´s spokesperson didn´t want them.  Don´t know if that is true or not.  We had proposed ground rules and went over them.   Joe Wiley made a point of saying they "want to change the paradigm" and "want discussions to be as positive as possible.  He took some responsibility for the fact that in the past they have not been positive.  The team is trying to not be overly optimistic nor overly cynical.  
Joe Wiley was pleasant enough until we touched upon the subject of staffing.  He quickly changed his tone and said that if we wanted to go back to the "negative rat hole" we could easily do that if we insisted on trying to tell them when they need to replace an absent interpreter.
Our team was prepared with proposals to present.  They did not have any written proposal.  Wiley did say that the "hub" of their proposals will deal with the distinction between assignments and positions.  He went on a very convoluted explanation. The team agreed that until we see a written proposal we cannot be sure of what it is they want.  The other thing they want to address is the benefits (this is a strictly LA issue because it deals with the LA county benefits and how the LA interpreter benefits need to match up).  Again, we do not have any details on that because they did  not give us anything written.
We presented 5 proposals.  We purposefully chose those that would be fairly easy and would not be contentious. Two of those were merely corrections of address or typos. One dealt with a new law that allows unions to be present at new employee orientation to make a presentation without management present. The fourth dealt with some time issues and requirements for employee representation during an investigatory meeting. The fifth dealt with adequate interpreter waiting areas.
Those were the formal proposals.  We also discussed caucus time for preparation before bargaining and there will be a proposal about that in the future. 
The grievance that I filed for the denial of my grievance was resolved.  SB agreed to pay for my time and not charge the union for my steward time :).  The whole issue of organizational leave for the Central Coast will be dealt with later on in the negotiations.
Only 1 interpreter in LA was released for today and attended the Watch and Support group. Two others came in during their lunch time. We know many more requested the day off but were denied.”
The CFI bargaining team: Doris Vick, Pedro Ramirez, Daniel Kaufman, Roberto Guerrero, Michael Ferreira, Kathleen Sinclair Alternate; with Caren Sensor and Alejandro Delgado from the law firm of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld.
Upcoming dates: August 23, 29; September 25; October 11, 18; and November 9, 28.
When we know the exact location of the next bargaining session we will send out an update, please continue to mobilize and wear Red on Thursdays!  Please excuse that this update took a couple of days past bargaining session, we have a plan for faster turnaround after the next bargaining sessions.


Local 39000 Update

July 31, 2017

LM-2 Filed

Last week we filed our LM-2 with the Department of Labor, it was delayed by our efforts to find all the funds of the Local, the form was signed by the CWA President and CWA Secretary-Treasurer due to the temporary administration.  You can see the document by going to: Our file number is: 545-412 which goes at the very top of the page Enter File Number and then click "Submit"

If you then click on "Affiliation/Organization Name" it will show you the 2016 form we filed last week, and the 2015 form filed last August by the former officers.


2016 Audit Status

Our audit of 2016 is moving along, and will wrap up with the filing of the 990 in mid-August.  We had problems with the previous accountants not assisting our CPA who is a specialist in unions and the accounting methods needed for full government compliance.  We will also file our California tax forms at the same time. 

Situations that we have found: the Local spent hundreds of thousands more than it took in in 2016.  The outstanding per capita amounts of $82,606 had not been held aside while disputing the rates to be paid.  In addition to 3 professional staff and 2 clerical employees for the year, the Local spent more than $154,000 for organizational leave for officers to do union work during the year.  The annual conference at the Millennium Hotel lost more than $50,000 in the fall of 2016. We are committed to not lose money on this year’s event.

We have also identified problems with the record keeping process (copies of receipts for expenses were not kept in the Local’s offices) and failure to categorize expenses in the ways needed for union accounting.  We have done what we can with the data we have for 2016, and are setting up processes to be in full compliance for 2017.  We also identified the problem with the Local using the wrong Employer Identification Number on tax filings and with ADP which handles paying wages.  When the Local approved the Local By-Laws and stopped being an organizing local, in early 2015, a new Federal EIN number was issued – but was not changed in all the necessary records.  We will have to re-file a number of tax filings.



The Local had been spending $42,000 per year on Hernandez Strategies for lobbying services.  Unfortunately, the paperwork was not in order, a contract had not been signed (they were working month to month) and reports were not in our records as to what work they were doing for the Local. 

The CWA employs lobbyists, but do not in a vacuum.  The program that they use is to have active members in each work site (or at least city) who can engage members with literature to make calls or write letters (and emails) to their legislative representatives.  We sent Anabelle Garay and Kathleen Sinclair to the “women only” Legislative Political Action Team training in late May.  The idea is to incorporate the CWA system into a more effective system of people power into one hired lobbyist for Local 39000.

The emails insisting upon re-hiring the lobbyist have been heard, and the evaluation of resources continues on a regular basis.  But the Local does not have money to just hire services, we need to incorporate the best practices and most effective use of funds and resources.  There will be more to come on this shortly.


Annual Conference 2017

As the event rotates between Southern and Northern California, it will be held in Oakland, at the Oakland Airport Hilton on October 6-9. Registration is now open – and the early bird rate is available!  We hope that members will register and participate in this year’s event.

Click here to register. 

If you would like to volunteer (and get a discount at registration), please contact Eva Vargas at  [email protected]


Bargaining Region 1

Bargaining began this morning at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse for a new contract with Region 1.  The elected team is:  Michael Ferreira, Dan Kaufman, Doris Vick (who comes from Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo), Robert Guerrero, and Pedro Ramirez.  Alternate Kathleen Sinclair fills in when a member of the Committee is unavailable (as Mr. Ferreira is this week), this helps our continuity.   Our lawyer is Caren Sencer from the Rosenfeld law firm.  Here is her bio:  She is a partner in the firm, and stepped in to replace Christine Alvisurez who had been working with the team. Ms. Sencer is even more experienced.

The proposals based upon the surveys from the membership and the caucuses that the committee did both in person and via video conference, were submitted to the TNG-CWA Bargaining Department and all were approved last week for submission to the employer.  This is an important step in compliance with the full TNG Collective Bargaining Program.   The proposals will have to be approved before a package is voted upon by the membership (but first bargaining and mobilization!).


TNG Conference and CWA Convention 

These meetings will take place at the end of this week and early next week in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Delegate Juan Ramirez will be asked to provide an update to the membership upon his return.



Last week we submitted our per capita information for June earnings, meaning that we are back on the proper reporting schedule.  We paid the May per capita amount of $16, 460 in the same days.  By the time we file the July earnings in mid-August, we will be totally current and back to filing the payment with the information.  Once all the back amounts are paid, there will be a lot less pressure on the Local’s budget. 

Sincerely in Solidarity,


Carrie Biggs-Adams

Temporary Administrator


Region 2 Update

No Deal in Mediation: Interpreters’ Fight for Fairness Continues


SAN FRANCISCO _ (July 22, 2017) Region 2 representatives and CFI’s bargaining committee met for a mediation session July 20, 2017 that failed to produce an agreement for a successor MOU.

 The following joint statement was issued by the mediator.

 The negotiation teams for both the Superior Courts of California in Region 2 and the Federation of Interpreters, Local 39000, met on Thursday, July 20, 2017, with State mediators in an attempt to resolve the current impasse dispute for a successor contract.  Despite their best efforts, a mediated agreement to resolve the dispute was not reached.

 This leaves us at the same point as before going to mediation. Several proposals that leave interpreters vulnerable are still unresolved, including:

 1. Making step increases contingent on satisfactory performance evaluations, which CFI finds problematic on several grounds. First, the Region has insisted on putting all wage improvements in the steps (no COLA’s or other raises). That means interpreters' only wage improvements would be subject to the whim of supervisors, many of whom are not interpreters and don’t understand the complexities of our job. Also, since we've agreed the evaluation process will be subject to meet and confer with each court before implementation, too many things are yet to be defined for us to agree to this proposal. 

 2. The Region’s insistence on an unequal system for step advancement where part time and intermittent interpreters would be treated differently in come counties, and receive wage increases much more slowly. These members wouldn’t benefit from the wage growth we’ve bargained, while interpreters in other counties would get annual increases like full timers. This is fundamentally unfair. In addition to creating inequity within our unit, this proposal violates the uniform compensation requirement in the Interpreter Act, and is a bad idea because it won't help solve the courts' recruitment problems.

 Region 2 representatives didn’t budge during Thursday’s mediation, failing to make any meaningful movement toward reaching a deal with court interpreters. CFI offered ideas on how to resolve the few outstanding issues, but the Region was not interested.

 The root of the problem holding up an agreement is the Region’s inability to agree on uniform conditions for our bargaining unit, across counties. Rather than bargain in good faith with us to find what works for our unit, again and again the Region wants to default to whatever each court does with its other employee groups, leaving us with inequality amongst us. The contradiction is that they don't apply the same principle when it would benefit us, like granting us a wage offset, COLA’S, or bonuses given to other employees_ the Region says under the law courts can’t apply compensation improvement to us, and they don’t seem troubled that we're treated less favorably. The Region's positions are not just contradictory, many see them as discriminatory. 

 These issues can be resolved at any time when the courts are ready to agree on terms that treat our members fairly. As we said before mediation, no agreement means we'll resume work actions as strike plans and preparations are finalized. 

 San Francisco members met Friday. Additional meetings are being scheduled at courthouses and by phone. Be in touch with your local mobilizers about meetings at your location.


Stand UP • Stand STRONG • Stand TOGETHER


Trial Verdict

July 24, 2017

This morning we received the decision from the national Trial Panel.  The 3 members: Trial Panel Chair: Secretary Treasurer of Local 1101 Kevin Condy, and members President of Local 3406 Judy Bruno and President of Local 4310 Diane Bailey found the charged parties guilty of all charges.

The full document has been posted on the Members Only area of the Memberclicks website.  Click here to log on: Member Only - Verdict

Ariel Torrone, Lucy Flores, Jeff Wilson, Naoyuki Ikeuchi, Naomi Adelson, Sharmen Gragirena, Luis Aroz, and Joe Rupert are expelled from membership and are fined for all unauthorized expenditures.


Carrie Biggs-Adams

Temporary Administrator

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