A Message from CFI President Ariel Torrone

It's time for a new update as we approach October and our annual conference is just around the corner. Don't forget — early registration ends September 20th. Visit our newly revamped website calinterpreters.org for more details. I look forward to seeing you there.

Let me also use this message to thank our outstanding staff for stepping up during this difficult first year of life of your independent, interpreter only local – we've had many growing pains, to say the least.

Our Northern and Southern Membership Directors, Eva Vargas and Monserrat Gomez respectively, have done an amazing job with our dues collection, per caps payments and membership services. They’ve have been instrumental in the development of our new website and keeping track of our grievance and arbitrations, as well as many other items too numerous to mention here.

Our Northern California Representative, Anabelle Garay, has become a force to be reckoned with tackling the many contract related issues that keep coming up as well the new changes that are already on the way.

Mary Lou Aranguren has eased into her position as Statewide Bargaining Coordinator _ a position created by your current Executive Board _ and is handling meet and confer issues throughout California as well as providing support for Anabelle in Regions 2 and 3.

As has already been announced, Silvia Barden has left her position as our southern CA staff representative. We thank Silvia for her many years of service and dedication to CFI’s mission. We wish her well.

I'm happy to announce that Alex Abella (the original CFI President) has graciously agreed to step in as Southern California Representative — he will be working closely with our tireless Lead Steward/Grievance Committee Chair/Vice President Mike Ferreira to get up to speed on all issues as well as coordinating efforts with our talented Southern California Stewards.

Juan Ramirez from Orange County has also handled many tough matters for us in Region 4 and deserves much more than a special mention from me — I just can't thank him enough, as well as everyone else who has kindly accepted to support CFI in these changing times. 

New Local, new bylaws, new website…it's a new and improved CFI — we want you to be part of it.  Your Board members love to hear from you, let them know what you think.  

And by the way, elections are just around the corner, look for a call to nominations for a new Board that will take over in January of 2016 and serve for two years.

And now, news from around our great state…


Language Access Plan Implementation and Expansion to Civil

We’re noticing that the courts and Judicial Council don’t have good data on what civil cases are already being covered by interpreters, what still needs to be covered, and what can be done to coordinate interpreter services more efficiently. Local courts aren’t receiving clear directives, and there’s confusion among judges and the public about access to interpreter services. We’re concerned that the courts are not spending the approximately $10 million still left in the interpreter budget surplus to provide interpreters where they’re badly needed.

As many of you know, expansion of interpreter services is part of the a Language Access Plan (LAP) adopted by the Judicial Council of California, which is in the process of planning the LAP’s implementation. The plan calls for expanding interpreter services to cover all civil cases by 2017, but it also calls for deploying Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) and, in some circumstances, using volunteers.

CFI continues to closely monitor the LAP’s implementation process and to make interpreters' voices heard — by meeting with Judicial Council administrators, submitting comments to the LAP Implementation Task Force when the opportunity arises, and working with our lobbyist at the State Capitol.

We are also researching and developing a White Paper on language access services in California courts. On Oct. 1st, we will launch a campaign to gather input from court interpreters throughout the state. We look forward to learning from our members’ experiences and hearing what you have to say.


Statewide Issues and Negotiations

Your CFI representatives are handling multiple contract enforcement issues and benefit change issues in courts throughout the state, including Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego,  San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Monterey,  and Santa Clara.

Negotiations regarding pension contribution changes stemming from the pension reform law are ongoing. An agreement was reached with the Kern Superior Court on Sept. 9 to provide deferred compensation and paid leave benefits for interpreters to offset the increase in pension contributions. Ratification is in process. Negotiations on this same issue are pending with the San Diego court.

Several grievances are pending related to failure to give priority to employees for cross assignments.

We are also meeting with courts on civil expansion issues around the state and in Riverside on the implementation of video arraignments.

Unfair labor practice charges are pending in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties.

CFI stewards and rep are also working to improve conditions in Santa Clara Superior Court, which is facing a severe shortage of Spanish interpreters to meet court needs after several retirements and resignations. Openings are posted but unfilled. Heavy workloads and the lack of team interpreting, as well as a lack of respect for professional standards over the years by court management is contributing to the shortage. As a result, interpreters are being asked to cover too many departments, judges are delayed in handling cases, and interpreters are again working without team interpreting in prelims and trials after progress had been made on this issue.

CFI has met with court management and is advocating the court take measures that will help recruit more contractors and employees to work in this court. If you’re interested in working or cross assigning in Santa Clara, please let us know by emailing: [email protected]


Los Angeles Superior Court

As the LA Superior Court takes on expansion of interpreter services to broadly cover civil cases, interpreters are being stretched thin under the leadership of new management.

CFI is addressing multiple issues related to assignments and vacation requests. Long standing practices related to filling regular assignments, F status interpreters and relief interpreters have been changed without notice or meet and confer, and the union is challenging these changes and other contract violations.

An unfair labor practice charge related to the use of supervisors outside the unit to perform our work is also pending. CFI will meet with management to discuss the assignment and vacation issues to determine if these can be resolved without need for grievances and disputes. Our goal is to work cooperatively with management to ensure that court needs are met and that LEP parties receive language access. The court must also ensure that this is done in a way that does not degrade quality and professional standards, and provides reasonable working conditions for interpreters.


CFI Supports Petition to Increase Contractor Per Diem 

Just as we’ve fought and bargained for wage increases for employees, CFI recognizes that independent contractors have gone far too long without any increase in the per diem rate for their work in the state courts. We encourage employees and contractors to sign on to a petition to the Judicial Council that’s being circulated to address this — an initiative of Joel Rupert, an Orange County contractor who’s leading the effort on this issue. Stay tuned for more info soon on how to add your name to an electronic version of the petition that we will be posting, and look for it too at our conference. A rising tide lifts all boats, and CFI is committed to finding common cause with contractors to preserve our work, professional standards, and fair compensation for all. 


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