California Federation of Interpreters

Thoughts from a member:

Benefits of belonging to an International Union rather than a small professional association, or going to another union.

  1. If we go to another union now we will be merged into another local. Our numbers are too small. Any other large union won’t want to spend large amounts of monies on us when it comes to bargaining or resolving grievances.
  2. If you use the Janus decision to send letters of resignation from our union, you weaken your own power by ceding to others your voice and vote on any issues affecting you. You impoverish and weaken our union. Remember this movement is very much supported by Trump and his following in order to get rid of unions all together. Unions are the only protection we have against abusive employers.  
  3. We were a number of about 800 members. Thanks to the Janus decision and other negative influences we have lost about 300 members. Keep in mind that as a union we have to cover a territory the size of England and Scotland with some 58 employer courts. Now is not the time to break away from the support offered by belonging to an international of 750,000 members. Do the financial math. How much financial support can you expect from 300, 500, or even 800 members paying dues compared to the financial support we get from and International with 750,000 members paying dues.
  4. If a disaffiliation is successful you will still have members that will not pay dues under the Janus decision. You will have to shop for a union that even wants small numbers. You will have to wait one year without representation before another union can represent you. During the one year waiting period you will be at your weakest point and at the mercy of the courts. 
  5. There has been a lot said and published about the trials against several of our colleagues. The simple truth is they were disassociated from our union because they ran a disaffiliation campaign while being members and an employee of our union. The truth is that simple, read the union constitution. You can legally run a disaffiliation campaign but, not while you are under a contract and certainly not while you are a paid employee of any union.  Read the PERB rules, they are very velar about when you can legally disaffiliate.  
  6. The board was thrown out because they disobeyed our presidents order for a new election, they stopped paying per caps, and three days after learning of the trusteeship the board took $50,000.00 of our locals’ money (yes, out of the dues we paid). Now, do you still believe in the “CFI Recovery” group’s  

Executive Board Election 2019

Esteemed CFI Local 39000 members:

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all that we are in the middle of an election for the leaders of this Local. With that in mind I also want to remind all, that the deadline for voting is fast approaching. In order to be counted, any ballots must be received by May 29,2019. The ballots will then be counted on June 5, 2019 at the Local office.

In Unity, 

Ed Venegas


Region 4, Bargaining Update

May 9, 2019 Riverside 

In a nutshell:
- Time-back purchase option requested to be discussed among management 
- We pressed for bargaining dates in Orange County
- 9 million more in the Interpreter’s Budget. 
- VRI proposal in a good faith effort to reach common ground. 
- Wages: Still pending
The Court’s brought back their team of 14 for this bargaining session. 
There was discussion on the following: 
The Governor added another 9 million to the Interpreter Budget. We informed Wiley of this additional money and he insist that it is irrelevant and that the interpreter’s budget had a deficit of 13 million this additional 9 million will only reduce the gap from a 13 million deficit. in the budget to a 5 million deficit. 
Your bargaining team has been attempting to get specific data about IC’s for weeks. Some information was finally made available to us at the table, which we will analyze in the next few days. 
Wiley indicated the information on how much money is being used from our budget to pay IC’s is not relevant. Your team believes it is relevant.
Charges have been filed for unfair labor practices providing, among other things, an explanation of its relevance.
Higher wages: 
Our spokesperson pressed for higher wages and defined us as “highly skilled workers not being compensated accordingly.” She indicated a 0.5 increase was a sign of bad faith. Wiley said other employees from other units received between 0 and 3% and that the 4.5% increase they proposed for us is closer to being realistic to where we’re going to finish than the 23% increase that we proposed. 
He’s reasoning for this is that there is no turnover in our field. Meaning interpreters are not resigning which is an indication that we are happy with our job, this is one of the criteria they are basing our wage increase on.
Your team prepared some changes and shared our VRI proposal. Wiley took a quick look at it, indicated we’re still far away, and announced he had to leave. Meeting concluded at four. 
It’s time for us to join forces. Start mobilizing and start showing the courts that we are a united force. Our jobs and livelihood are at stake. We can’t just cross our arms and watch them try to destroy our profession. It’s time to take our profession back!  The issues at the table do not only affect Region 4 interpreters. They will affect all employee interpreters.  We need to show the courts our statewide strength. 
Your bargaining team is aware of the impact VRI will have on our profession, and of the wage increase that our highly skilled profession deserves: therefore, we will be working diligently to take into account all possible impacts of their proposals before we make our decision on the pending issues. 
We appreciate you standing by your bargaining team, but things are getting real, and we need EVERYONE’S  support to achieve the best contract possible for ALL.  We are in this together.  UNITED we BARGAIN… DIVIDED we BEG. 
Our unity is our strength by presenting a united front before administration we show our power.  
A big “thank you!” to Myrna and Olivia from Riverside, Gary from San Bernardino, Shalom from San Diego for taking time off to Watch and Support. 


We encourage you to attend the negotiations. If you will be participating in the Watch & Support please submit your time off request today, and email us at [email protected] to reserve your spot. 
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for June 10, 2019 in Orange County and June 28, 2019 in San Diego. 
Please support your bargaining team by wearing red on the days we are at the table and also every Wednesday. 
In union there is strength. It’s the “U” and “I” in union that makes us strong.
In Solidarity, 

Your Region 4, Bargaining Team 
CFI Local 39000, CWA-TNG

Maria Benitez
Jackie Ruiz
Silvia San Martin 
LouLou Tovar
Ana Fuller
Laurie Burgess- Lead Spokesperson 
Ed Venegas- Spokesperson 





2019 Local Elections 39000 - Time Line



 ALL Ballots will issue by mail from Ballotpoint for all Contested Races

 All Candidate’s Statements are already posted on the Local’s Website.


ALL Ballots must be returned by mail at the post office box by May 29, 2019. 


The ballots will be counted at Santa Fe Springs office on June 5, 2019 beginning at 10 a.m. – candidate with most votes will be declared elected, a majority of the votes cast is not required.  Observers are allowed but may not touch the ballots.  Counting will be conducted by Ballotpoint and the Local Election Committee. 

 *Observers are members in good standing

New Address
11823 E. Slauson Ave, Unit 7
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670



Executive Board Elections 2019 - Candidates Statements

Positions Elected by Acclamation:

Michael Ferreira

It is my honor to welcome and invite all my colleagues in interpreting units throughout California to the CFI Local 39000 reboot for 2019. As incoming president, I see three realities facing us all: 

  1. We are again to be given the leadership of the only Local in the nation comprised solely of court interpreters. We are the example for all other court interpreters throughout CWA-TNG, and the nation.
  2. Court interpreting presently faces an onslaught of challenges – if not existential threats such as Video Remote Interpreting – all of which impact our continued ability to grow and perfect the profession as cornerstone for meaningful language access and due process. If we fail here, the employee court interpreter will fade and divide into irrelevant numbers, with highly diminished opportunities to build a career path with livable income.
  3. This time around, success will not be depend on what I do, what the Board does, or what union lawyers can do, but in what we all docollectively toward ensuring that the Local vigorously represents all unit members in bargaining, disciplinary actions, professional best practices, legislative initiatives, as well as be our voice at the Judicial Council. 

Unionism is about the many, not the few. Unity of purpose and then acting in unison is what really brings the power to effect change, as well as maintain and improve our membership’s standard of living, working conditions, workplace fairness, etc. This unity in purpose and action is what creates the power to overcome the difficulties ahead.

My time on the Board will be focused on the following tasks:

  • Build a strong and effective system of stewards throughout the state; try to come as close as possible to the CWA guideline of one steward to every 15 members, making sure there is coverage at sites having a higher number of unit members, or with high incidence of abuse. Make sure that there is consistent training (minimum 2 x year) and mentoring available in each region from those with more experience. Create an operative system to nominate, vet, and approve stewards.
  • Create meaningful internal organizing, mobilization, and outreach through more effective, consistent communication with the membership via regular informative emails, frequent webpage updates, and frequent localized-membership meetings. Increase response and decrease costs utilizing distance conferencing technologies to connect the far-flung leadership throughout the state, and facilitate union activity participation from distant counties with smaller number of employees. Promote rank & file participation through quickly staffing standing and ad-hoc committees. Implement regularly convening Labor-Management Committees in each bargaining unit to address conflicts and come to solutions on issues that impact our unit members.
  • Continuing with our lobbyist, Ignacio Hernandez, build upon our foundation of legislative initiatives and advocating for interpreter and language access issues. During this presidency, our three main foci are: passing legislation to severely control VRI; protecting and expanding the interpreter budget; and defending interpreter employee rights in the public sector/courts. A long-term goal is single-statewide contract bargaining; once thought to be very far down the road, it is becoming more possible as Judicial Council attitudes have changed toward the regional bargaining system, and its cost in resources and time to bargain four contracts.

I’m looking forward to the next few years … I’m looking forward to CFI Local 39000 reboot … I’m looking forward, thinking about those California court interpreter employees coming after us. I want them to have a meaningful career, livable income, and security into their futures.

Region 1 Representative
Hernan Vargas

I am very pleased to announce my candidacy for Region One Representative. My 30 years of experience as an interpreter and the work I have done for CFI since its inception have given me a clear view of the priorities facing us today. Among them: 

·         The proper allocation of assignments in the morning
·         VRI, apparently invisible right now, is always ready to show its ugly head and take our jobs away.
·         Working toward greater unity.  I want to see us become a more coherent, objective and effective group.

I will work to accomplish these things and to be responsive to the concerns of our membership.

 Thank you for allowing me to be of service.

Region 2 Representative
María José Álvarez Caceros


I am honored and thankful to be nominated by my colleagues for the Region 2 Representative. As members of the Local 39000, we are transitioning into our autonomous governance. The time has come to realign ourselves with open communication and transparency. This will not be an easy task or free from opposition. However, we must stand together to usher this new era.

 I find this quite exciting because we are in the advent of change and we must be the force that guides it. This will require us to keep an open mind about our challenges as well as to examine potential solutions through new perspectives. For instance Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is becoming a reality with each passing day. Thus, we must set the guidelines for this new technology. Will our additional duties also carry additional pay? I certainly hope so, and will strongly advocate for it. How will VRI be most beneficial for all counties regardless of their size.  I am willing to invest myself to improve our union and industry by serving as the Region 2 Representative. Will you join me?

Kindly submitted,

                               María José Álvarez Caceros

Freelance Unit Representative
Angie Birchfield

My name is Angie Birchfield and I am a California Court Certified Spanish interpreter running for the freelance position of CFI. 

I work an independent contractor in both the public sector and private sector. In 2013 I became the unit chair for TTIG- The Translators and Interpreters Guild which later became IGA- the Interpreters Guild of America. That very same year we collaborated with CFI to help author AB2370 (stating your qualifications on the record) which passed and was implemented into the government code. In 2015 I was appointed to the Language Access Implementation Task Force representing independent contractor interpreters. I am a firm advocate for fairness of independent contractors and will continue to fight on your behalf. Through IGA we are assisting the state insurance commission in the investigation of fraudulent activities committed by some Language Service Providers (LSPs) and their lack of compliance with the certification standards and protocols, as well as, LSPs lack of compliance of fees and erosion working conditions for independent contractors in the private sector. These are standards that we have worked so hard to achieve and we will continue to do all to protect. 

These are trying times for all interpreters both in and out of courts and it's time to unite! We need to stop the powers that continue to pin court employees and contractors against each other. Otherwise, our profession as we know it will seize to be what we aspire for it to be. Vote for me is a vote for uniting employees and independent contractors. Vote for Angie Birchfield. 

Candidates for contested positions:


Vice President
Janet Hudec

Strong work ethic, dedication, commitment, problem solving, team player, knowledge, and leadership is what you will be getting from me. Hello, I am Janet Hudec and I am running for Vice President. 

For the last 7 years I have worked tirelessly making sure our profession is moving forward. I am an active and loud advocate for our profession and for the limited English persons (LEP) we serve. Over the past 6 years I have dedicated myself to representing all interpreters through my various appointed positions with the Judicial Council of California. I’ve been a voting member of the Judicial Council Court Interpreter Advisory Panel (2012-2018) while simultaneously serving as a member of the Joint Working Group for California’s Language Access Plan and was a collaborator in creating the Language Access Plan (2013-2015). I’ve served in the Implementation Task Force of the Language Access Plan (2015-2019), and I am currently serving on the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness (2019- present). 

My accomplishments, in collaboration with other language access advocates, include and is not limited to: identifying language access problems and creating solutions for the California Courts through the 75 recommendations of the Language Access Plan; the expansion of language access to civil; mandatory requirements for courts to tag, track, and collect data; mandatory requirement for language access education and training for all (judges, attorneys, clerks, etc.); amendment to California Government Code §68092.1 declaring that it’s imperative for courts provide interpreters to all; Rule of Court 2.850; Rule of Court 2.895; INT-300; amended INT100-120 forms; amended Rule of Court 2.893 making it mandatory for non-certified and non-registered interpreters to take an orientation and ethics course, provide proof of actively pursuing to become certified or registered through education and taking the exams, and setting limits to provisional qualifications. 

For years I have been working on current issues such as VRI, wage disparity, misuse of the cross-assignments, regional bargaining and the Interpreter Act, courts relentless efforts to under-mind employment, lack of reciprocity of wage steps throughout the state, and more. These are the issues that I am committing to continue fighting. 

Enough is enough! The courts have taken advantage of our situation. I have the passion, drive, knowledge, and dedication to improve our employment conditions. My rapport with Judicial Council and experience is what makes me the best candidate. Vote for Janet Hudec for Vice President.

Thank you.

Vice President
Roberto Villalta 


Dear colleagues,

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Roberto Villalta and I am running to be your local 39000 Vice President. 

I have been an interpreter for over 20 years, I started doing telephonic interpreting then moved to the free-lance world of Court Interpreters and for the last four years I have been providing my services to the Los Angeles Superior Court. I want to add that I am a very active person (enjoy cycling, playing soccer, running) and I am outgoing and talkative person. I take very good care of my career as well as my colleagues and I have always adhered to the professional code of ethics in everything I do. 

This union needs people who are willing to step up to the plate and work with all their strength to better the conditions that our members face on a daily basis, this union needs someone to find solutions to their problems. I am that person!

Vote for me in this coming elections!!


Roberto Villalta

Carmen Ramos

I accepted the nomination to run for Secretary-Treasurer for our Local because I want to work towards achieving better wages and working conditions.  I believe a united, focused, and informed CFI is pivotal to reaching these goals. As a steward in Santa Clara County, and in order to achieve the Federal rate,  interpreter employees and contractors worked to document incidents and inform the Bench, the Bar and the Media regarding the serious impact that unfair wages was having on interpreter availability in our county.  I was also able to implement Team Interpreting, something Santa Clara Administration had resisted for many years. Through consistent outreach to our members, I made administration aware of the unacceptable practices of an Interpreter Manager whose actions were detrimental to working conditions and wages in Region 2. During my employment in Santa Clara and now in San Joaquin, I have forged strong alliances with our local sister Unions in the Courts. Our SEIU brothers and sisters in San Joaquin joined us in big numbers to picket at the Stockton Courthouse in support of our last round of Bargaining. The Local San Joaquin SEIU Representative picketed with us and has stood with us in solidarity during the difficult times we have faced as a Union. I am a fearless fighter, and very focused in my intent and goals.  I believe the only way we can build a strong Local is through transparency, accountability, membership meetings and participation. I intend to bring this philosophy to my work in that capacity if I am elected to serve you, and to safe keep our dues and  compliance with the CWA constitution.  

Carmen M. Ramos,
San Joaquin County, R3

Victoria Rea

First off,   I’m truly grateful to have been nominated as Secretary Treasurer for CFI local 39000. My name is Victoria Rea, I have been a Court Interpreter for 12 years working in the private sector, as an F status Interpreter until I became a full time A status for LASC at Children’s Court in 2014. 

I’m eagerly entering this chapter in my professional  life for the benefit of our profession and our colleagues. I have seen first hand how hard we’ve worked as a group to accomplish the many things we have, however, to continue further success we need, without a doubt,  UNITY! What fortifies us as a professional GROUP is the way we INDIVIDUALLY show our support to our mission: To be respected and compensated the way we should. 

Your vote counts! Vote for your livelihood, vote for your dear colleague, vote. Everyone’s voice matters every vote is a firm voice. We need continued solidarity, transparency and unity! Let’s help rebuild  CFI leadership together. 

In unity,

Victoria Rea


Region 4 Representative
Tania King

As Region 4 delegate, I pledge to serve as a bridge of understanding, as well as a channel of communication for all interpreters and translators of Region 4, making sure that all voices are heard and bringing those voices to the table. 

I will fight for more inclusion, more dialogue, and more transparency.

I will address the challenges of every corner of Region 4 with leadership and resolution, with the interpreters and for the interpreters, towards the future.

Thank you

        Tania King

 California Certified Court Interpreter
            [email protected]
Region 4 Representative
Silvia San Martin
I am taking this opportunity to reintroduce myself to those of you who work alongside me. Please know that I decided to run again for this position knowing that I could positively impact bargaining as well as any issues that are presented to the courts thru the grievance process — a process that demands education, experience and commitment. You should know that my commitment to our profession has been in place for the full seventeen years of my employment as a court interpreter. I have argued cases with the courts and won. I intend to continue to apply my years of experience to the benefit of my colleagues. Don’t forget that the person you ultimately vote for will have the ability to help determine the future of our Union and the well being of all our members. We will also be impacting legislation, legislation that we need to support for the betterment of all. Please vote for me so we can make this dream a reality.    


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