News

Last Executive Board Meeting 2021

CFI Local 39000 TNG-CWA last executive board meeting will take place on December 27th.

 

San Diego Global Settlement 2021

 

On December 8, 2021, I signed a settlement agreement with the San Diego Superior Court which resolved three matters pending against them:

1. An Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) suit filed with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) in which charges were filed against the court for harassing one of our San Diego stewards. 
  • To settle this ULP, LA-CE-39-1, the court agreed to remove a letter of warning issued to our steward from the personnel file, as stewards are protected when participating in concerted activities (union work).

2. An Arbitration alleging that the court failed to pay interpreters the 25% premium for performing Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).

  • The court will pay $15,000 to settle CFIR4SD2002, a grievance in which the Union asserted that assignments performed remotely on Microsoft Teams beginning in the spring of 2020 constituted VRI assignments and therefore, were entitled to the 25% stipend that was practically forced on Region 4 during the last round of negotiations. All unit members who reported assignments to the local steward team before the deadline indicated in the agreement (December 7th) will soon receive compensation for all assignments performed as VRI. 

3. A Grievance filed for implementation of a new policy – how overtime is handled going into the noon hour at Central court – without first advising the Union of the change and giving an opportunity to meet and confer on the impacts.

  • The Court will not implement the new policy until the parties have finished the meet and confer in good faith, to be scheduled no later than January 28, 2022.

Since this executive board and I came into office, we made it a priority to dedicate special focus on courts that had been consistently breaking the MOU and been abusive to our union members in the past – San Diego, Fresno, Orange, among others. A commitment was made by this board and San Diego’s stewards to change the dynamic, uphold the MOU, and grow union activism.  The result is that much progress has been made in communicating with management on an equal footing, with mutual respect, to resolve issues before rising to the level of formal grievances. When a court knows that we are willing to grieve their MOU transgressions, we are then in a better position to negotiate new MOU proposals in the next round. It shows our commitment to oblige the court’s compliance with our agreements. 

The San Diego steward team led by Silvia San Martín, with Gemma Yosick and more recently Vanessa Bonilla, has filed a total of nine grievances since 2019. I have made it my personal endeavor to support this team, and others, by giving my mentorship and the expertise of our union’s legal team. Working together as a team, all of these have been either resolved through a settlement agreement or withdrawn because the court rectified the issue during the process, thereby successfully resolving all pending complaints against San Diego Superior Court without conceding the union’s interpretation of any terms found in the MOU.

In conclusion, what we can learn from this experience and the example of our stewards in San Diego, and elsewhere, when we work together as a team, we can accomplish our goals and protect our labor interests, taking agency over our shared interpreter profession. Each court group of members is a vital component not only in their regional MOU bargaining unit, but throughout the state; union members can effectively achieve beneficial results in their own court, but throughout the state. We are interconnected such that the victories in one place supports similar achievements elsewhere in California. Our San Diego steward team, as well as stewards throughout our state, can take pride in being strong and holding the line during this pandemic. Well done, all of you!

In unity,

Michael Ferreira
President

 

 

Notice:

Candidates have requested that the below distribution be made to you via our website.   CFI does not endorse candidates for its offices. This distribution is not an endorsement of a candidate by CFI, nor is CFI responsible for the content of the candidate's campaign literature.

Questions or comments should be directed to the candidate’s email address. 

Candidates for President 

Begonya De Salvo 

Dear Members,

In my final message as your CFI President candidate, I would like to share five goals for my presidency. 

1.         Changing the tone. We will change the tone of our leadership and its relations with rank-and-file members. It is important that members have trust in their leadership. Without that trust, we cannot mobilize ourselves to demonstrate solidarity. Recently, when Region 2 interpreters sent a critical open letter to the current board, a board officer publicly accused the interpreters of lying.  To publicly lob such accusations against rank-and-file members is outrageous and abuse of power. This destructive tone has to stop. I will promote transparency, integrity, and inclusion.

2.         Fairer and More Democratic Elections: The union's current bylaws favor incumbents. For example, they provide no right to challenging candidates to access membership lists to order to obtain addresses, emails, or telephone numbers. This policy not only hinders candidates' ability to effectively campaign, but the lack of transparency hinders vibrant debate and fair elections. 

3.         Increasing Union Membership: Our current membership stands at less than 30 percent of judicial council interpreters. Many have resigned, disillusioned by the current board. We need to regain the faith of our rank-and-file members. Recruitment through outreach and grassroots organizing is critical. Besides regaining the trust of disillusioned members, we also must reach out to independent contractors. My running mate, VP candidate, Gabriela Mejia, a former independent, understands the independent workers that current board is so disconnected from. 

4.         Increasing interpreter pay—across the state. Our base pay should be commensurate with our professional training, in the range as other professionals – such as reporters – who earn six figures. An interpreter in Region 4 asked if my goal of a "six-figure salary" – which federal court interpreters enjoy – was a "reasonable expectation." My response: "I can't guarantee when we'll receive a six-figure salary. (A beginning interpreter in Region 4 now starts at $85,000.) But I can guarantee you that if elected as your President, I'll work like hell and try."

            a.         Salary Steps in Region 1. Interpreters in Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties are without any step system. A starting interpreter has the same base salary as a 30-year veteran. This is a gross injustice and needs to change. Correcting this will be the centerpiece of Region 1 negotiating when the contract comes up for renewal in 2022.

            b.         How do we achieve the pay increases? First, we need new blood in the leadership. A board officer criticized me for saying salary steps were achievable in Region 1. Why the cynicism? If other regions can achieve it, why can't Region 1?  Second, we need to hire experienced professionals to guide us in bargaining. This will cost money – but if the union's bonded officers didn't spend nearly $300,000 on staff and their own salaries (in lieu of working as interpreters), we could use these funds to hire better advisers and bargainers. Third, we won't have sufficient leverage to increase pay unless and until we increase our union membership.

5.         Achieving a safe and just workplace during COVIDWorkplace safety and hero pay are a high priority. We have suffered great injury, not only with the death of our colleagues, but also those infected with COVID at work, while in the line of duty, and some are dealing with long COVID symptoms. This is a more than recognizable badge of honor and deserves a monetary recognition in a bonus. 

Vote for our New Union slateBegonya De Salvo for CFI President, Gabriela Mejia for CFI Vice President, and Gloria Lindemann for CFI Secretary Treasurer.

 

Michael Ferreira

Where do we go from here? 

The local presently is undergoing the first set of elections for executive board members in two years, and the stakes could not be any higher. Opposition candidates have responded to this by creating more disunity in among us by enlisting Janus objectors and expelled members to bolster their negative campaigning without offering ideas or solutions that would further unity and strengthen interpreters’ position before the legislature, the Judicial Council, and the Courts.

Now is the time for experience and a well-honed team with a proven track record of responding to crisis; a team that responds to the needs of the local and its membership. Janet Hudec, Carmen Ramos, and I have decades of experience as court interpreters, and almost as much time as active union members in numerous roles: we have all been on bargaining committees (several times), carried out the representative functions of steward, committee membership (legislative, among others), and we all have held positions on the executive board as bonded officers. 

As long-time active unionists serving in different roles interfacing with management, Janet, Carmen, and I have something that is only built and strengthened over time with practical experience: we have created and fostered a relationship with our court administration counterparts that make for workable opportunities and direct communication to resolve most problems and conflicts with our employer. In the alternative, we file unfair labor practices, grievances, and follow through to arbitration; we protect and uphold our members’ rights under labor law and our memoranda of understanding.

All three of us work well together identifying what to prioritize in representing members and we complement each other’s knowledge and skill set. When the COVID pandemic hit we immediately poured all our focus onto two specific goals: 1) get our members the highest level of health and safety protection possible; and, 2) make sure they can earn a wage or have livable income of some sort. The result was that members throughout the state were sent home on administrative paid leave; on-site workers got a premium during the pandemic’s early period, and in Los Angeles and Alameda members received telework (VRI from home). 

In countless meet and confers, legal action taken, filed CalOSHA complaints, and with our many stewards and regional board representatives sharing the load, we pushed back against furloughs in Kern and Santa Clara, negotiated one acceptable to our members in San Bernardino, and filed both a grievance and a ULP against Orange for its implementation of furloughs. Likewise, in the midst of this pandemic we organized our membership to mobilize and beat back an onerous piece of VRI legislation no less than five times! We have expanded the steward base in all regions and provided more training opportunities and mentorship, albeit over video remote conferencing!  

Not everything we did had the expected outcome, or the result desired, but in the worst of times, under the most withering circumstances, none of us complained, shirked, or quit our duties, as had others around us. Our team addresses issues based upon the realities of our situation and the critical membership mass we can muster to obtain our goals… we are not the sort to go after pie in the sky or short fixes with negative consequences down the line.

ALL OF US must now come together and offer what we can, participate a much as we are able, in whatever endeavor will get us to a better place in our working lives and improve our profession. This team will provide the training, mentorship, and the experience needed to get it done. 

If you think that this local, our members, and unionism matters, cast your ballot for Janet Hudec, Carmen Ramos, and me, Michael Ferreira. 

 

Candidates for Vice-President

Silvia San Martin

My last message to you will be brief and simple, as time is running out: The vital step where everything can begin right now is with the return of democratic dialogue within our executive board. Without fears when hearing dissenting voices. Without muting the mics. 

I will be proud to be your voice as part of a new board that embraces the most fundamental concept of all. 

Silvia San Martín

Current R4 Representative (leading region in CA) and candidate for Vice President

 

Gabriela Mejia 

WHERE ARE OUR INDEPENDENT COLLEAGUES? 

Do you ever wonder? Because I do, and certainly most of them are   not CFI members anymore.

So, why did they leave?

Among other things they left because when the AB5 bill appeared as a threat to their work as independent interpreters, the union did not support them.

I was an independent for many years before I started working as a full-time employee for the Courts.

Just like it makes sense now to be an employee, it made sense for me to be an independent back then! There are many reasons why a person may choose to be an independent contractor and it should not be the Union’s business not to support our colleagues, Why? Where is the gain? There is not such a thing.

All that happened was that they decided to leave the union, and they found support in other small organizations that fought and still fight for their rights but limited in their efforts because they are not a union.

And even as it is, they would rather stay that way than join CFI and all its rules, without even having their support.

I had the chance, through a campaign visit across California to talk to a lot of independent colleagues and they all stated the same: “WE DID NOT FEEL THE SUPPORT of our Union and that is why we decided to leave, and as a matter of fact we still DO NOT FEEL SUPPORTED as independents”.

I want you to know that WE WILL SUPPORT YOU IF YOU ARE AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR and WE WILL SUPPORT YOU if you are a court employee. It is called being INCLUSIVE.

 

This is my last campaign letter and I want it to be short but straight to the point. I do not want to attack anyone, neither the current Board, nor the previous one. I feel you have already been informed of everything that has happened in the past and what continues to happen.

It is up to YOU, the voter, to decide and STOP this NOW.

Please make an informed decision, VOTE for a slate that is TRANSPARET, INCLUSE and that will always support you no matter what your status is, as long as you are a member.

Vote for our slate, Presidential candidate, Begonya De Salvo, Secretary-Treasurer candidate Gloria Lindemann and yours truly, Gabriela Mejia, VP candidate

Thank you!

 

Janet Hudec

I want to start by apologizing for not writing a well thought out last statement. In all honesty, I was busy doing what I enjoy, representational work. This is what I am currently working on: 

  • Monterey Court – currently investigating the use of a telephonic/VRI agency (Language Select) for Arabic and Vietnamese in court proceedings. 
  • Santa Cruz Court, Santa Clara Court, San Mateo Court, and Mendocino Court  – working on getting interpreter employees their pension offset money awarded from the ULP appeal we recently won. This includes tracking down retired employees, former employees, and contacting families if interpreter employees have passed away.
  • Contra Costa Court – working on filing an unfair labor practice for union bashing, retaliation, failure to meet and confer, unilateral implementation of accommodation conditions, the use of an Italian non-cert for Spanish cases, attorneys being used to interpret for minors, discouraging employment, VRI conditions, and low staffing levels. This stems from the Court refusing to process grievances and refusal to meet and confer in good faith at the lowest step possible. 
  • Kern Court – Unfair labor practice informal settlement conference. This stems from the Court engaging in retaliatory behavior against interpreter employees when Mike, Carmen, Steward María Cecilia Skaggs, and I worked hard to stop the Kern Court’s attempts to furlough employee interpreters. Kern Court wanted to furlough employees in 2020 to free up money from their interpreter allocation to continue to hire contractors in the same language pair. The Court also refuse to provide us with requested information. 

We are also working on a few other grievances and unfair labor practices regarding the use of non-certs, misuse of Interpreter funds, unit work, and discriminating against interpreters for receiving Covid-19 pay. 

  • Fresno Court – Currently working on a side letter for equitable assignment distribution, team interpreting, VRI rotation, trial rotation, staffing levels, and parity treatment for assignments among employee interpreters and contractors. 
  • Region 2 Bargaining – we are still in ongoing bargaining. 
  • Spearheading action against all courts who are not proving interpreters free of charge by refusing to maintain staffing levels or refusing to hire contractors. Indigent court users have been forced use family members as interpreters or risk their court case being vacated. This project is in collaboration with ACLU and Legal Aid. 
  • Orange Court – Currently working with Stewards to address low staffing levels, unit work violations, unilateral implementation of reassignments, past practice violations, and strenuous working conditions. Also representing members in possible discipline investigation meetings. 
  • Legislation – preparing for 2022 legislative year. Judicial Council will be pursuing to pass another remote hearing bill for criminal. Lobby to request more money for interpreters. Fixes to the Interpreter Act. Pursue other interpreter and labor bills.
  • Proving support and guidance to stewards.
  • Help Mike and Carmen with their representational work.  

I am very much aware of the slander and misinformation other candidates have disseminated. As we have experienced in past recent years, misinformation and fake news/fake statements is not conducive in fostering growth. I prefer to use my time working on representational work and refuse to engage in divisive tactics. 

I am honored to have served as Vice President and will be honored to continue serving as Vice President. If re-elected, I will continue to give 110% and represent all interpreters fairly, effectively, diligently, and without interjecting my personal feelings or views. I am committed to accountability, respect, transparency, and will continue to enforce our labor rights. 

You are the interviewers, choose the best candidates for the job. Choose the candidates with proven track records. Vote for Mike Ferreira, Janet Hudec, and Carmen Ramos. 

Candidates for Secretary-Treasurer 

Gloria Lindemann 

Dear colleagues: 

My name is Gloria Lindemann and I am running as the candidate for Secretary-Treasurer.  

This is the last opportunity I have to share with you my thoughts about the importance of this position. I will make this brief because I know that you have been bombarded with much information. 

I do believe that experience is important. I also believe that honesty, having a moral compass, and honor are equally important. I accepted this nomination with the intent to make a difference, to have a positive impact in our industry.  

I know things are not always fair, I know that our professional occupation at times is looked down upon. My goal is to contribute to the success of this industry that I love so much. My goal is to maintain a sound financially stable and more inclusive Union.  

I know this is a difficult task, But I promise, just as I have done in every  task that has been entrusted in me, that I will do it with honor, that I will do right by the people that have trusted me to do this job. 

I truly hope that with my campaign has at least made you question what our union leadership has done in our behalf. Is that truly what we want? Are the union funds that we work so hard for, put to use where we want them? If I have changed at least someone's mindset, then I have accomplished what I intended to do. I appreciate all the constructive comments and input, positive and otherwise; I do listen and pay attention.  

I appreciate the people that have voted, including the people that did not vote for me. The fact that you are exercising your right to vote and are raising your voice to be heard is truly what matters to me. 

Thank you, 

Accountability and responsibility is my motto.  

Sincerely, 

Gloria Lindemann 

Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer 

Carmen Ramos

Dear members,

There has been misinformation regarding the rules that govern disclosure of member lists and mailings from our Local. I am enclosing a link to the Department of Labor official page so you can see for yourself this is simply not true. We represent court employees only and IGA does not represent contractors in any way. 

I respectfully ask you to vote for Mike Ferreira for President, Janet Hudec for VP, and Carmen Ramos for Secretary-Treasurer. 

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/olms/compliance-assistance/fact-sheet/lmrda?fbclid=IwAR0Os4VsRxZBa8canHlBa6uaREi0TCKdJuP6kO7ZXmw0v3RFQH4dheTD7pM 

 

 

 
The truth has no defense against a fool determined to believe a lie
 – Mark Twain 

November 24, 2021
 
Dear Region 2 Members,
 
As many of you have already received, there is an email circulating with the intent to divide, create doubt, misconstrue the truth, and derail bargaining. Words of concern expressed are empty buzz words when accompanied by false information, ill intent speculation, and lack of action. The definition of anti union is to be opposed to or hostile towards labor unions. When reading these types of anti-union missives, members should always question the motive. Here are the facts not mentioned in the message:
 
VRI
 
VRI became a reality when Judicial Council adopted VRI as an appropriate vehicle to expand language access in 2018. In the current MOU that was agreed in 2017, the bargaining committee who negotiated the MOU knew and understood that VRI was imminent. In fact, the current MOU already allows for VRI (see article 19, section 9, pages 13 and 14).

In the event that the Region makes the initial decision to implement Video Remote Interpreting for spoken language, the parties agree to reopen the MOU Article 19 Assignments and Article 20 Cross Assignments. The Region shall provide CFI with not fewer than 90 days advance written notice of its decision and provide to CFI the opportunity to meet and confer regarding the impacts of the decision prior to the implementation of the decision.

Since 2018, Region 2 Courts have requested to meet and confer numerous times over VRI impacts and the Union has found every excuse possible to avoid the meet and confer. In 2019, the Union requested to reopen wage bargaining after the Region 2 Courts requested a meet and confer over VRI and threaten imposition if no dates were provides. Throughout the wage re-opener, CFI’s bargaining committee refused to engage discussions of VRI.
 
After the wage re-opener failed because the Region 2 Courts refused to bargain virtually at the onset of the pandemic, the Region 2 Courts again sent the Union a request to meet and confer over VRI impacts on August 2020. In their request, the Region 2 Courts informed the Union of their intent to imposed VRI on November 24, 2020 if no dates where provided. The Region 2 Courts offered the Union to adopt the same VRI agreement as Region 3 and 4.
 
On November 23, 2020, the Region 2 elected representative and bargaining team member, Kristina Ramsey, engaged in negotiations with the Chair of the Region 2 Courts, CEO Kim Turner, without the knowledge, authorization, and vote of the Region 2 members and the CFI Executive Board. Ramsey offered the Region 2 Courts to extend the MOU without a wage increase and delay VRI. The Board was informed of the dealings on November 24th. The Region 2 Courts responded with a willingness to extend the MOU with no wage increase and refused to delay VRI.
 
If VRI is a big concern, why did the signers of the letter, whom many were on the wage re-opener and the bargaining committee who quit, not engage in negotiating VRI impacts when they had the chance? They had plenty of opportunities. Why are they not joining the mobilization to ensure proper VRI safeguards? We all know that the only way we can get wage increases and good working conditions is by work actions. Is anger and their belief in punishing the Union more important than their concern for VRI?
 
Sabotage?
 
In September 2020, Region 2 members elected both the Region 2 Representative and the bargaining committee. The responsibility of the Representative is to represent the interest of the members before the Executive Board. However, there was never any intention to represent members in good faith. The elected Representative never called any meetings to listen to member concerns, never provided information, and never connected with stewards. The Bargaining Committee’s responsibility is to represent the members interest in bargaining. The Bargaining Committee failed to reached out to members, never held meetings, rarely provided updates, and never made any attempts to mobilize members. How is this representation in good faith?
 
In the few updates that the Bargaining Committee did provide to members, the Bargaining Committee took the opportunity to further their negativity.  Members reached out to Bonded Officers with concerns regarding the lack of representation and disconnect. The Bonded Officers asked and encouraged the Representative and Bargaining Committee numerous times to send updates, hold meetings, and connect with members only to be accused of interfering.
 
On February 22, 2021, the Bargaining Committee sent out an update to the membership. In that update, the Bargaining Committee informed members that bargaining was scheduled to start on March 22nd when in truth, bargaining was scheduled to start March 5th. The Bargaining Committee quit February 26.
 
If there is concerns that the current Bargaining Committee will be making concessions, why are they not joining mobilization? Why are they not encouraging members to be supportive? With strong work actions, we can have both, better wages and proper VRI safeguards.
 
Punishing the Union
 
Members are the Union. The individual who filed charges against the expelled members has retired. Most of the CWA leaders at the time of the charges and trials have also retired. So who is being punished? The answer is obvious, members are being punished. Why?
 
I am certain that all members will agree that we all acknowledge the hurt that was caused and the need for healing. It is in that spirit of healing that we have not closed our ears to non-member voices and their concerns have always been considered. What happen in the past, has happened. Should the membership continue paying the consequences?
 
There is a path for expelled members to come back to the Union. The path is simple. Any expelled member who wishes to come back needs to send a message to the Local requesting to come back. Upon receipt, the Board is obligated to take the issue to the membership for a vote. If the membership votes to allow expelled members to come back, the Bonded Officers will reach out to CWA and request that these individuals names be added to the CWA yearly conference agenda. At the conference, CFI delegates will present the reasons why CWA should allow members to return. Discussion on the matter will take place and a vote will follow. Expelled members will be welcomed  back once the CWA delegation votes to approve.
 
No Concessions and No Quitting
 
By nature, bargaining is a collective effort. Anyone who is has been involved in bargaining can tell you that there is lots of discussion, brainstorming, listening, and collaboration. Bargaining is always difficult and stressful. Bargaining during a pandemic has been twice as difficult. Instead of being negative, I encourage all to reach out to the Region 2 members who quickly reached out and made the commitment to step in and take the place of the Bargaining Committee who quit, and be supportive. Instead of insisting to keep the past hurts alive, let the healing begin by setting aside our differences and working together for a better future. No one wins when there is division.
 
There will be no concessions on VRI in order to get a better wage. As we have continuously said, we will not agree to any harmful VRI. Keep in mind that the Region 2 Courts can impose any bargaining  article where an agreement is not reached. If all Region 2 employees want better wages and strong VRI safeguards, pick up a sign and join the movement. Actions speak louder than words. Actions prove that concerns are sincere.
 
I have provided a timeline of events for you to be informed. If anyone would like to see supporting documentation, send an email, and we will gladly provide it.
 
In Solidarity,
 
Janet Hudec, VP
CFI Local 39000
 
 
Timeline
 
-  CFI and Region 2 courts entered into MOU for the term September 25, 2017 through September 30, 2020.  That MOU included a wage re-opener  that required the Employer to negotiate wages and other compensation with CFI at CFI’s request on or after July 1, 2019. The MOU also included language to re-open bargaining for VRI and Cross Assignments.
 
-  Between December 2018 to May 2019, the Region 2 courts requested dates to bargain VRI impacts. CFI found ways to avoid providing dates.
 
-  May 30, 2019, the Region 2 courts informed CFI that if no dates are provided to bargain VRI impacts, VRI will be imposed within 30 days. CFI avoided the imposition by requesting to re-open bargaining wages.
 
-  On August 27, 2019 CFI officially informed the Region 2 courts of their intent to re-open bargaining for wages. Attorney Laurie Burgess becomes CFI bargaining spokesperson. Region 2 Courts inform that they also want to bargain VRI. As usual, negotiations where difficult. The 2019-2020 CFI bargaining committee faced a ZERO wage increase offer and VRI. The bargaining committee said NO to negotiating VRI prior to agreeing to a wage increase. No movement in bargaining. Negotiations were going nowhere.
 
-  Covid-19 cases started appearing in the US. CFI sent out letters to all courts requesting to meet and confer regarding PPE. Executive Board members and stewards began reaching out to members and meeting with courts to discuss PPE prior to pandemic being declared.
 
-  Pandemic is declared on March 12, 2020. Region 2 courts refused to bargain virtually. Bargaining team through spokesperson Laurie informed that CFI was ready to continue bargaining virtually. Region 2 courts said no. Region 2 courts never provided dates. CFI bargaining team stop insisting, stopped bargaining, and quietly disappeared. An Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge was filed against the Region 2 Courts.
 
-  CFI Board and stewards focused on pandemic, stay at home orders, court closures, paid leave, PPE, interpreters working conditions, and remote work during pandemic.
 
-  June 2020, CFI President Michael Ferreira, timely notified the Region 2 Courts our intention to bargain a successor MOU. This was done to preserve retroactive pay requested in the wage re-opener ULP, keep VRI impacts within MOU bargaining, and to preserve Region 2 members rights to bargain in case Pandemic conditions improved.
 
-  In July and August call for nominations and elections were held to fill Region 2 Representative vacant position and to form a new bargaining committee.
 
-  August 24, 2020 The Region 2 courts sent CFI a letter requesting a meet and confer over VRI. The Region courts informed CFI that if no response, the Region will impose VRI on November 24th. In the letter, the Region courts offer the same VRI language as Region 3 and 4.
 
-  September 8, 2020, Kristina Ramsey is elected to be representative and elected to serve in the bargaining committee. New bargaining committee is established.
 
-  November 23, 2020 Kristina Ramsey called the Region courts chair, Kim Turner, and made an agreement to roll over the MOU for a year, keep the status quo, and not bargain VRI without a membership vote and without Board authorization. The Board was informed on Nov 24th.
 
-  In February 22, 2021. CFI bargaining committee lied to members about when bargaining starts March 22, 2021. Bargaining committee lied, bargaining was set for March 5th. Message was authored by Mary Lou Aranguren (author’s name is seen in the properties of the document).
 
-  February 26, 2021. Bargaining committee quits.
 
-  March 5, 2021. CFI starts bargaining with new committee.
 
-  July 23, 2021. Region 2 Representative quits.

 

CFI UPDATE REGARDING RETURN TO WORK ON SITE

Recently, after months of providing remote interpreting services from home, interpreters received a memorandum from LASC Administration informing them that their remote assignment would be ending on Friday, November 5, 2021, and that they were to return to work on site at their regularly assigned courthouse starting November 8, 2021. Floaters were told that the Assignment Office would contact them with their assignment.

Interpreters were also instructed to bring their court-issued cell phones “in the event that simultaneous interpretation is requested”.  They were told that it was not necessary to bring their laptops on site “until further notice”.  Subsequent to this memorandum, interpreters received another email instructing them to bring their cell phones and laptops to work in order to “provide simultaneous interpretation for litigants who are appearing remotely before the Court”.

Interpreters were advised that if they were to experience any impediment while providing these services, they were to bring those issues to the attention of the Court or their supervisor and management team so the matter could be resolved.

The intention of the Court Administration to have Court Interpreters continue to do remote interpreting from a court location is a distinct change in practice in the way we carry out our job duties and brings with it its own problems and impediments as recognized in the memorandum from Administration on November 10, 2021.  As such, under Article 18 of our MOU, the Court is required to give the Union 150 days of advance notice of its intentions.  No such notification was given. 

On Friday, November 12, 2021, CFI met with LASC Administration to discuss Management’s directive to Interpreters to bring remote equipment to work, in anticipation of being assigned to interpret remotely while on site, in person, at the Courthouses.  Michael Ferreira, CFI President, started the conversation by telling Administration that there would be no “pussyfooting around” and that CFI would get right to the point.  He stated that the Court and CFI signed a side letter agreement on July 20, 2020, because LASC had no VRI agreement which allowed interpreters to work from home during the pandemic.  This agreement gave the Court the right to request remote work in venues outside the courthouses.  CFI stated that the agreement was successful in that it allowed approximately 80 interpreters to work from home during the pandemic, thus protecting those who were high-risk and helping those interpreters with dependent care issues. The Court had asserted that when the Covid Emergency Order was lifted, things would go back to the way they were done before -- they had no intention of modifying our working conditions.

It was reiterated that this side agreement only allowed for remote interpreting FROM HOME, and if Administration wanted interpreters to work remotely on site, it was necessary to “go back to the drawing board” to draw up another agreement.

Mike explained that the equipment we have been given is not suitable for work on site, and that interpreters are being put into situations where they cannot live up to their professional oath.  Interpreters are also being blamed for slowing down Court proceedings.  Although Amy Blust sent out a memo instructing interpreters to speak up when there are impediments to carrying out their job duties, stating that indeed, it was required by our Code of Ethics to do so, Mike stated that the frequency of the obstacles and problems in performing our work has become more of the rule than the exception.

It was also brought up during our meeting that certain discriminatory practices had been observed since interpreters have returned to work on site: in the Catalina Court all staff returned to work on site while the interpreter was told to interpret remotely from the Long Beach Courthouse; in Children’s Court the opposite happened in a virtual courtroom on site where all participants appeared virtually with the interpreter being the only one present in person.

The Union also explained that some courthouses lend themselves very appropriately to the hearings being done remotely, in particular Children’s Court which generally has a large number of participants present for every case.  Victoria Rea spoke of some of the specifics of dealing with remote interpretation issues done on site.

Administration responded to CFI’s arguments by asserting that Telework and remote work are synonymous and that the July 2, 2020 agreement identifies and allows remote interpreting in the courthouses.  They contend that there is no need for another agreement allowing interpreters to do remote work on site.  They stated that at this time ALL employees must appear on site and that there are no remote assignments available.

Amy Blust said they would do a follow up on the situations reported in Catalina and Children’s Court.  She added that the expectation is that all hearings in Children’s Court will be conducted as they were before, but using laptops, headphones, and cell phones.

The point is not whether there may be some way for some form of remote interpreting from a location on site at a courthouse to be appropriate and feasible. Rather, the addition of remote interpreting to the Interpreter Unit’s work is something that must be negotiated with the Union to protect the membership from potential negative impacts such as the increased cognitive and auditory difficulties inherent in remote work, or the burden of carrying the Court’s equipment back and forth between home and workplace every day, and being responsible for the safety of this expensive equipment during daily transport and on site in locations that may not be secure from public access.  It is also essential to ascertain that any new technology added to the way interpretation is delivered is adequate to ensure that interpreters are able to provide reliable language access at the level of accuracy required by our Code of Ethics. 

Although Management rightly encourages interpreters to report any impediment to our ability to deliver a complete and accurate interpretation, working conditions for interpreters must conform to a level of standards under which the need to report an impediment would only rarely arise. Impediments should be the exception. The hit-or-miss approach Management has taken in extending this onsite remote work directive, in violation of our MOU, opens the door to a variety of ways in which the ability of interpreters to comply with our Code of Ethics in the delivery of our services is compromised. 

The triage-style remote work put in place during the pandemic to enable interpretation services to continue while protecting lives, was adequate for emergency circumstances. The technology currently in use is inadequate for routine use in a number of the contexts in which it has been employed on an emergency basis, and even for the types of event for which the current technology could be adequate, the work environment necessities and protocols have not yet been addressed through the required Meet and Confer process.

The Union has filed a Grievance (see link) and an Unfair Labor Practice charge. Nevertheless, Unit members are encouraged to comply with Management’s directive in the interim while these issues are being processed through the Grievance and the ULP. And again, please do not hesitate to speak up and report any impediment you may encounter to your ability to provide a faithful and accurate interpretation.

In Unity,

Mike Ferreira, CFI President
Kathleen Sinclair
Gabrielle Veit-Bermudez
Victoria Rea

 
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