Region 2 Update

Courts Deny R2 Reality

San Francisco (January 14, 2020) _ A chill wind and rain didn’t deter San Francisco interpreters from a lunchtime show of solidarity on the Judicial Council steps, next to the courthouse where the CFI Region 2 bargaining team met for wage negotiations a week before Christmas.

Region 2 court interpreters are mobilizing. 

We're fighting for fair wages that are commensurate with our skills. We need to keep up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area, the most expensive place to live in the country. 

89% of R2 interpreters surveyed say they’re dissatisfied with their current salary, 64% say they struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area, and 60% do other work to supplement their income. 

Region 2 interpreters strongly agree that the work we do requires the same skills and knowledge as federal court work. The salary range for federal staff positions in the Bay Area is $127,187 – $165,346. 

91% of R2 survey respondents also agreed that given that contractors are being paid the federal per diem, staff interpreters also deserve federal parity.  

At the Dec. 18 bargaining session the Region 2 courts, once again, refused to offer anything despite being presented with clear and strong evidence on why a wage increase is necessary. The court’s lead negotiator refused to articulate the reasons for an offer of zero, simply repeating the same specious arguments made previously, a series of badly researched half-truths, and apples-to-oranges justifications.  Although our spokesperson Laurie Burgess repeatedly pressed him about whether he and his team had ever been authorized to offer any amount, he continued to dodge the question, in an apparent manifestation of bad faith.  

Our committee pointed out that interpreters now must be prepared to work in criminal, juvenile, civil and family cases, and perform more work with fewer employee interpreters. The Courts' spokesperson claimed he did not see the correlation between staffing levels and increased workload, and expressed no interest in perusing our carefully researched package of data refuting the Courts’ previously presented faulty statistics.

The Region is intent on ignoring the approximately ten percent reduction in staff interpreters in Region 2 and the skyrocketing cost of contracting interpreters to minimally meet the need for interpreters.

Your bargaining team maintained that moving toward federal parity in staff salaries is essential to prevent further losses of employees and beef up staffing to match the increased workload. 

The next bargaining session is being scheduled and will likely be in late February or March.

In the meantime, as zero is clearly unacceptable, we will hold lunchtime meetings in late January and February in courthouses throughout the region to gear up for solidarity actions to build pressure on the Courts, and, most importantly, to hear from you. Stay tuned for dates and locations.