Los Angeles UPDATES

September 19, 2021 

The pandemic has been difficult for all of us and continues to be a challenge. We have all experienced stress from rapid life changes to keep us safe, impacts to our health (physical and mental), loss of loved ones, and with new Covid-19 variants, we continue to experience those challenges. 

On the labor front, Covid-19 has been and continues to be a never ending roller coaster ride. The complexity of Covid-19 ever changing mandates, rapid health and safety procedures and guidelines from the CDC and state and local health departments, and our employer trying to implement changes that many times resulted not best for interpreter interest. 

In April 2020, in order to protect the health and employment of its members, CFI President Mike Ferreira and the Region 1 bargaining team initiated a painstaking Meet & Confer process with LA Superior Court requesting the implementation of Telework for interpreter employees. After a series of negotiations CFI ultimately succeeded in getting Telework for members that identified as high risk. Throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, additional colleagues with dependent and elder care issues also requested Telework, and ultimately all interpreters who were faced with problems brought on by the pandemic were offered the option of working from home via Telework.

On November 30, 2021, CFI filed a Health and Safety Grievance on behalf of members who were denied Telework although they had health conditions that placed them at risk. The Grievance was filed by Secretary-Treasurer of CFI, Carmen Ramos, with the assistance of Union stewards Roxana Cardenas and Monica Almada.  During our initial meetings, your CFI team asserted that our members should be granted telework despite having requested it after the deadline.  

As we all have learned during this pandemic, things are in a constant state of flux. New information on masks, prevention and long-term side effects of Covid-19 have come to light. 

On January 12, 2021, tragedy struck. We had our first interpreter casualty due to COVID-19. Two more of our dear colleagues would come to lose their lives in the next few months. 

CFI filed a second Health and Safety Grievance. Secretary-Treasurer Carmen Ramos, with the assistance of Roxana Cardenas and Monica Almada presented the Grievance on January 14, 2021. Your CFI bonded officers assigned our counsel, Laurie Burgess, to file a complaint with CalOSHA. Laurie was the spokeperson for CFI during that process, which led to CalOSHA issuing a citation against LA Superior Court.  Roxana Cardenas, Monica Almada and Begonya de Salvo assisted Laurie in the investigation, as Laurie worked tirelessly to push CalOSHA internally to hold LA Superior Court accountable.  

We provided our steward, Begonya de Salvo, with Laurie’s assistance to guide her through the intimidating process of talking to the media. Begonya, Mike and I, reached out to some media outlets, and media outlets reached out to our President, Mike Ferreira, regarding the deaths of our dear colleagues. Both Begonya and Mike did a fantastic job shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the sad events that took place.  

We give a special thanks to our counsel, Laurie Burgess, for the phenomenal job she did in getting CalOSHA to hold LA Superior Court responsible for their negligence in handling Covid-19 protocols and procedures relating to interpreters working on site in court.   

As a result of the Health and Safety Grievances filed by CFI, telework was offered during the meetings to resolve the two grievances.  We also believe this came about because of the CalOSHA complaint filed by Laurie Burgess, and the media pressure regarding the death of our colleagues in LA Superior Court.

During 2020, Maya Fonseca, CFI steward, worked with Carmen Ramos to obtain health benefits for F-status interpreters throughout the pandemic. Initially, LA Court denied F interpreters health benefits. Maya Fonseca, reached out to the Board of Supervisors and discovered that F-status interpreters should be covered. We brought it to the attention of LA Superior Court, and the F’s were able to get health coverage. 

At present, your CFI team continues to work tirelessly to protect your health and employment. Mike Ferreira, Carmen Ramos, Kathleen Sinclair, Roxana Cardenas and Monica Almada, are currently engaged in the Meet and Confer process regarding the recent Vaccine Mandates in LA Superior Court. Our first major achievement: the extension of the 80 hours supplemental sick leave for COVID-19 and vaccine related issues. You will receive more news about that issue later. 

We extend a warm and affectionate Thank You to all mentioned and all who supported us, encouraged us, and collaborated in our efforts. Without teamwork nothing is possible, with teamwork everything is possible. 

In Unity,

Janet Hudec, VP CFI Local 39000
Carmen Ramos, Secretary-Treasurer, CFI Local 39000