California Federation of Interpreters

Translations and Unit Work

It has come to the attention of the Local that there are employee interpreter unit members in different parts of the state who are performing written translations assigned to them by management during working hours, or in some cases, by a bench officer.

I am not talking about the private side gigs that people get and do on their own time, invoicing the agency or justice partner with whom they work in the courts, to then be paid additional to their normal wage. There are many possible reasons why it is problematic for court interpreters to do translations– but the intention of this communication is to explain how it negatively affects both our MOU and how we are compensated by the court.

First to keep in mind is that none of the Regions MOUs have “written translations” as part of the unit work. If your employer court wants interpreters to also do translations as part of their job duties, it must first bargain for such at the table, and the Union would expect to reach an agreement that would establish protocols and increase pay commensurate with the additional duties/unit work.

When a staff interpreter accepts and performs a translation as an assignment, this thwarts the ability of the rest to gain more in wages; this is something valuable that could have been collectively bargained and beneficial to everyone now becomes detrimental to all unit members in lost potential income.

The general rule of any group of workers is to claim every task that is pertinent to their profession and skill set as their unit work. This Local presently claims and has claimed written translations as our unit work; it has been the subject of a pilot project in one court which gave an additional pay bump to everyone who wished to join the project and do translations. Everyone had an equal opportunity to participate and earn additional income. Although the side letter has expired, written translations correspond to us, and no one should carry out any written translations work as part of their job duties, including voluntarily, until it has been vetted and agreed to by the Union... with a bump up in compensation!

If you are doing translations as part of your workday, resulting in you leaving your interpreting duties to be covered by the rest of the staff, that is contrary to our MOU, and is creating an impediment to everyone getting a better wage scale for the added unit work.

Don’t allow management to take advantage of you!

Should you have any questions about this, please contact a local steward or send us an email to [email protected]

In unity,

Michael Ferreira

Urgent Message Region 2 VRI


Dear Region 2 Colleagues,

Late last night we received 2 letters from T. Michael Yuen Region CEO Chair and Kim Turner, Region 2 Administrative Chair stating that regardless of the fact that we are addressing VRI in bargaining, they will impose starting September 1st. This is an obviously retaliation for our mobilization that killed their remote hearing legislative bill. As you all know, the Governor reopened California on June 15, 2021. This means that all courts have 90 days after June 15, 2021 to transition away from remote access per the Chief Justice Pandemic Emergency Order.

The Courts can threaten all they want. WE WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS! It is time to show the Courts that they will not bully us. We will not accept something that is not right for us. We have all experienced firsthand from using remote platforms the difficulties, the miscarriage of justice when technology fails, the breakdown of meaningful access to justice when there is connectivity lags or when all participants do not allow time for interpretation. We will not be placed in a position post pandemic where the quality of work is threatened. Our primary purpose is to be the conduit of access to justice. We should not allow anything to compromise that.

It is not a coincidence that the JC suddenly decided to update contractor rates! This was a smoke screen to establish VRI pay for hours worked only. The JC’s argument of contractors are too expensive and their adamant persistence of VRI is not by accident. Most courts in Region 2 are operating with employee skeleton crews. So who do you think will be doing VRI? Certified or registered contractors? Wrong. No certified or registered contractor will be accepting the $44 an hour for VRI. As the code states, when no qualified interpreter is NOT available, the court can find good cause to use “an interpreter who does not hold a court interpreter certificate” to provide services. Setting rates that it is fully known will be rejected by certified or registered interpreters is an excuse to say that there is “good cause” to use a non-certified or non-registered interpreter.

By now many have heard the rumors about the JC trying to create a lower employee tier with non-certified interpreters. This is not a rumor. The JC has been trying to do this for years. The Union has been the reason it has not happen. The JC’s continuous attempts to erode our profession by making employment less and less attractive is the strategy to make this a reality. We cannot let this happen.

Although we are filing a record number of unfair labor practices, we now need to use our voices and work actions to send the message. Current VRI proposal takes away the 25% stipend if courts choose to use VRI locally with employees and will only apply for cross assignments. We all know that the possibility for any employee cross assigning remotely are very slim. VRI should not be used without carefully throughout limitations. Uncontrolled VRI is dangerous for justice, places LEP’s at a disadvantage, places our quality of work in peril, and should not be the preferred method of delivering interpretation services. With the letters we have received, it is evident that the courts care nothing about access to justice. Convenience is the driving force. 

Lastly, there is no uncertainty regarding our budget. The legislature and Governor understand and support the importance of language access and is supportive of the labor force. Strong show of work action is the path to take if we want to obtain an adequate livable wage. We are as strong as our weakest link. Don’t let differences be the obstacle to secure your livelihood. I, Carmen Ramos, Secretary Treasurer and Maria Cruz, Santa Clara Steward will lead the mobilization. They will be organizing and setting up meetings soon.

We are including the letters we have received form the Region for your review. 

Notice of planned adoption of VRI in Region 2 - June 21, 2021

VRI planned adoption of VRI in Region 2 - December 8, 2020

In unity, 

Carmen Ramos

Revised CalOSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS)

The Local has recently received the information concerning the revised CalOSHA Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) below; this should clarify a lot of questions members have concerning the new relaxation of COVID rules for the workplace in California. We should pay particular attention to the vaccination status when considering what will be the requisites in the workplace. Most importantly to notice is that in order to allow employees to go without a mask indoors, the employer must document their vaccination status. Therefore, the employer is permitted to ask one’s vaccination status for the purpose of allowing that person to go without a mask indoors. From the information that courts around California are sending to the local, most are indicating that if a person has not been vaccinated, or does not respond to self-identify as vaccinated or not, those persons will be required to wear masks indoors at the workplace. 

We encourage members to directly contact our local, or even the CalOSHA links in this communication for further information. We will update as we become aware of any changes that may impact you in the courts. Still to be determined is if the courts will allow the public in without masks en masse, or only those who can show they have been fully vaccinated. For the time being all custodial entities are continuing with the previous set of protocols.

Again, if you feel that you are in a situation or setting that is unsafe or unhealthy, remember that you have a health and safety clause in your MOU. Immediately inform your supervisor or interpreter office of the unhealthy or unsafe condition, request that it be rectified, and keep yourself safe (but in contact with your supervisor) indicating that you are ready and willing to continue working once the situation has been made safe. Be sure to advise us at the local ([email protected]) and cc us on any communications you may have with management concerning health and safety issues … 

In unity,

Michael Ferreira


Release Number: 2021-62                                             

Date:  June 17, 2021

Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board Votes to Adopt Revised COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards

Revisions Account for Rising Vaccination Rates, Offer Guidance to Help Businesses Reopen while Maintaining Strong Worker Protections 

Revised Emergency Temporary Standards Effective Today

Sacramento—The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board today adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards that account for recent guidance from the California Department of Public Health based on increases in the number of people vaccinated. Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day review period by the Office of Administrative Law—providing clarity and consistency for employers and employees as California fully reopens its economy. The revised standards took effect today.

The revisions include the following:

  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to be offered testing or excluded from work after close contact unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear face coverings except for certain situations during outbreaks and in settings where CDPH requires all persons to wear them. Employers must document the vaccination status of fully vaccinated employees if they do not wear face coverings indoors.
  • Employees are not required to wear face coverings when outdoors regardless of vaccination status except for certain employees during outbreaks.
  • Employees are explicitly allowed to wear a face covering without fear of retaliation from employers.
  • Physical distancing requirements have been eliminated except where an employer determines there is a hazard and for certain employees during major outbreaks.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated may request respirators for voluntary use from their employers at no cost and without fear of retaliation from their employers.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms must be offered testing by their employer.
  • Employer-provided housing and transportation are exempt from the regulations where all employees are fully vaccinated.
  • Employers must review the Interim guidance for Ventilation, Filtration, and Air Quality in Indoor Environments.
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air and increase filtration efficiency, and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.

Cal/OSHA is updating its resources to assist employers with understanding their obligations required by the revised emergency standards. The webpage contains an updated fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions about proposed revisions to the emergency temporary standards. In addition, Cal/OSHA is currently updating its model COVID-19 Prevention Program in English and Spanish and information on planned webinars hosted by its Consultation Services Branch.

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, a seven-member body appointed by the Governor, is the standards-setting agency within the Cal/OSHA program. The Standards Board's objective is to adopt reasonable and enforceable standards at least as effective as federal standards. The Standards Board also has the responsibility to grant or deny applications for permanent variances from adopted standards and respond to petitions for new or revised standards.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, is the division within the Department of Industrial Relations that helps protect California’s workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace. Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from Cal/OSHA Consultation Services.

Media Contact[email protected], (510) 286-1161 

Employers with Questions on Requirements May Contact:[email protected], or call your local Cal/OSHA Consultation Office

Stakeholders Who Wish to Comment on the Rulemaking Process May Contact: [email protected]

 # # #


Go fund Me for Myrna Marks

The Local has been approached by some members from the Los Angeles Superior Court with a request to share this Go Fund Me page for our dear colleague, Myrna Marks. As some may already know, Myrna and her family are facing a very difficult time both financially and in terms of Myrna’s physical and emotional recovery from injuries sustained while a pedestrian in a traffic accident this month. Although there are positive signs in her condition, this is a long haul and the well-being of her family and her ability to fully return to work are difficult to ascertain at this moment. There will no doubt be co-pays and other expenses, as well as the possibility of the extended sick leave compensation coverage (100%, 65%, and 50%) running out, should this take longer than her accruals can support.

We encourage everyone to contribute as best they can. In the words of labor leader David Coates: An injury to one is an injury to all.


Make a donation!

In Memoriam Mary Elliot


When I started court interpreting about 30 years ago, Mary Elliott was one of a few exemplary interpreters whom I admired. 

She was such a natural-born interpreter that her flawless renditions on the witness stand made her the most requested CCB interpreter for important trials by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. 

Even though she seemed approachable, I was afraid that there might be a hidden diva quality to her that would rear its ugly head around a young pipsqueak like me. I was mistaken. Mary was authentically warm, funny and unpretentious. When she warmed up to me, she would whisper things to me like, "You don't say things like that around that crowd." Or she would exclaim in true Mary-style, "Don't be a ding-dong!" She became a guru to me. With time, I am proud to say that I thought of her as a friend as well. 

Uri Yaval, Mary and I had a bond as like-minded activists for the profession and we were faithful to our weekly lunches at the now-closed Colima Restaurant on the corner of then-Sunset and Broadway. We were joined by other friends such as Joaquin Chan-Sanchez and Eric Valdez later on. There, Mary taught us to squeeze fresh lemons on our tortilla chips to enhance their flavor, something I still do today.

Mary was a beautiful, intelligent and classy lady. There was a soft elegance to her that became more apparent to me when she married Charlie. I remember her always beaming with joy and blinding us with the flashes of light reflecting off of her enormous wedding ring. We made many jokes about it. This is how I want to remember her. She was so happy living in her beach house with Charlie, traveling with him, and enjoying all the friendships that Charlie and she had with attorneys, judges and interpreters. She was fulfilled. 

She was a guiding light to many people. She, along with Sara Krauthamer, whom I must mention here, laid the groundwork for us finally to force the County to recognize us as employees. Both Sara and Mary taught many of us the art of interpreting as instructors as well. 

I am grateful for how Mary enriched my life and I know she also made many of you better people. May You Rest In Peace, Dear Mary. 

Roxana Cardenas 


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