California Federation of Interpreters

Message for Orange Court Interpreters

June 11, 2020

Dear CFI Orange county members,

We are writing to you to share important information and updates regarding work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFI Local 39000 began the dialogue through meet and confer sessions with the Court via video on May 14 and again on June 10, and although the conversation regarding safety is far from over, we believe that progress has been made and hope more will come despite this very challenging period for all. Our next call will be taking place next week as the Court resumes all non-essential proceedings including preliminary hearings and trials and all interpreters and other employees return to their workplace on June 15.

Some of the topics being discussed are masks to be worn by all persons in the courthouse, air quality in the buildings, the need for more equipment and disposable covers, minimizing the amount of time interpreters spend in enclosed settings, the possibility of extending early release through a rotation, and telework opportunities such as telephonic assignments and/or other remote means already contemplated in our latest MOU. Again, the Union will keep the dialogue with the Court and will send you updates.

As all interpreters will be back at work next week, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Article 35 of our MOU states that “The Courts and the Union agree that safe working conditions are the responsibility of each employee, supervisor and manager” and that “[t]he Courts will take reasonable precautions to prevent unnecessary exposure that would put an interpreter at risk.” 

Safety is one of our two top priorities, and thus we encourage our members to stand up for their health and safety rights. If, for example, you are asked to stand next to someone who is not wearing a mask and there is not minimum physical distancing of at least six feet, or if you are not provided with wireless equipment to be able to maintain a safe distance, you have a right to bring this to the attention of the Court and your direct supervisor. We always encourage professionalism in pointing out health & safety issues; one could say something like “Your Honor, the interpreter is not able to interpret under the current conditions, as the:

a)     defendant is not wearing a safety mask

b)     interpreter needs wireless equipment to be able to maintain a safe distance

c)     interpreter needs a dedicated microphone for interpreting

d)     other impediment or health and safety issue.

Per our MOU, the incident must be reported to a supervisor so the situation can be addressed immediately. As your Union, we need your participation in reporting any and all incidents to our link  CFI Local 39000 COVID INCIDENT REPORTS (CTRL+Click to follow link). Please include “Health & Safety” in the subject line. You may also contact your steward LouLou Tovar or your R4 representative. 

Your team is working around the clock to keep members safe, encourage the use of remote interpreting, and safeguard wage preservation and continued income. We will stay in touch.

Be safe. Be vigilant.

In Unity, 

Your Orange County team: 
LouLou Tovar, Steward
Frances Marino, ad-hoc Meet & Confer Team
Silvia San Martín, R4 Board Representative

 

 

Special Message for Los Angeles Court Interpreters Regarding Resumption of Services

June 9, 2020

Dear LASC Members,

For the last few weeks the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) has been working to re-establish all services to the public.  Throughout the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, essential proceedings have continued in a limited capacity; however, as of today’s date, LASC's plan is to resume all non-essential proceedings on Monday, June 15, 2020 and have all employees, including interpreters, return to their place of employment on Monday, June 22, 2020.  

During this time, CFI has been holding meet and confer sessions telephonically or via Zoom with Court Administration to discuss changes in courtroom procedures and how these may impact interpreters on the job in the courtrooms.  CFI has been instrumental in aiding Court Administration put safety measures in place including the use of masks in the courthouses by ALL persons who enter (originally they had told us that the use of masks by court users would be recommended, but not required), and providing each interpreter who returns to work on site with their own personal interpreting equipment and sanitation products.  Our next meet and confer session will be this coming Thursday, June 11, 2020, and we will continue our dialogue with LASC regarding new policies and procedures as we move forward.

As we begin to gear up to return to the workplace, many of you have reached out with questions and concerns.  Yesterday, Monday, June 8, 2020, a letter was sent to our interpreter Court Outlook accounts on behalf of Nancy Griffin, Chief Human Resources Officer which includes an attachment entitled “COVID-19 RESUMPTION OF SERVICES FAQS”.  Please take the time to read over this document carefully as it contains answers to many of the questions you may have.  This is particularly important as the Court is in the process of implementing new policies for ALL employees having to do with crucial issues such as telework assignments and childcare. 

For those who need childcare, or adult care due to COVID-19 in order to be able to return to work, please keep a record of the places you call, the answers they give you, and any other problems you may encounter in trying to find a place that is open for business. We may need this information in the future.

Health and Safety in the Courts

Article 30 “Health and Safety” of our MOU states that, “Management will provide and maintain a safe and healthy place of employment.” It contains language which provides protection for our members in cases where they are being compelled to work under dangerous or unhealthy conditions. If, for example, you are asked to stand next to an inmate who is not wearing a mask, or you are not being provided with wireless equipment to be able to maintain a safe distance, you may say to the judge, “Your Honor, the interpreter is not able to interpret under the current conditions, as the:

a)     defendant is not wearing a safety mask

b)    interpreter needs wireless equipment to be able to maintain a safe distance

c)     interpreter needs a dedicated microphone for interpreting, etc.”

We encourage our members to stand up for their health and safety rights, and to report any incidents to our CFI link CFI Local 39000 COVID INCIDENT REPORTS (CTRL+Click to follow link). Please include either “Health & Safety” or “Remote Interpreting” in the Subject Line. 

IMPORTANT REMINDER: If you were exposed to a COVID positive person while working on site, please fill out a work injury report with your court, and definitely report it to CFI at CFI Local 39000 COVID INCIDENT REPORTS. (CTRL+Click to follow link)

Available Federal Programs

While our negotiations are still in progress, and we still have many unanswered questions, it is important that you become familiar with the different Federal programs that are offered for those who cannot go back to work for issues related to COVID-19. These programs may provide a way to get paid if we are not able to extend the telework agreement.  

Below is a link that will take you the U.S. Department of Labor/Employee Paid Leave Rights page, which describes the programs available to you.

FFCRA: Families First Coronavirus Response Acthttps://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave

The following is a short description of the program’s benefits: 

  • 1) Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • 2) Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • 3) Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Since these programs do not offer 100% of your salary, you would need to use your accruals to make up for the difference. Please remember that the Federal programs would not be necessary if people can work from home (or in an isolated “clean room”) while they continue to draw regular pay.

Your Union is working very hard to accomplish the following:

  1. Keep people safe by insisting on proper protection for interpreters, such as the use of sanitizing wipes, masks and gloves, and social distancing while working in the courtrooms.
  2. Encourage the use of remote interpreting, both video and telephonic during the tenancy of the COVID-19 Emergency Order.
  3. Protect wage preservation and continued income.

It is important to know that the interpreter budget from which courts will be reimbursed for language access is still valid all the way through June 30th, of this fiscal year.

We allowed the Court the right to use remote interpreting during the pandemic. It is in our side letter agreement with Administration, and we will continue to hold to this firmly for our members’ safety and wellbeing. Please cooperate with your Union in providing adequate protections for all interpreters during this unsettling period.

In Unity, 

Your CFI Board and Stewards

 

Alvaro Degives-Mas 

It is with a heavy heart that we bring some very sad and sudden news. Our friend and colleague, Alvaro Degives-Más, passed away on Monday evening, May 25, 2020.

 

Álvaro

“My languages draw a map of my life” is what Álvaro used to say. And there was a story that came with each language he used, a story telling a part of the history of his life.
Spanish was the language of his mother and his family, deeply rooted in the history of Southern Spain, German the language he learned playing with the children in the neighborhood when he was a little boy living in Germany with his mother. French was the main language of the International school he first went to. His family originally came from Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous city on the Moroccan coast of North Africa, which is where he learned Arabic. When he got his American citizenship, he would sometimes jokingly say he was African-American.

His mother eventually moved to the Netherlands, and Dutch was added to the already impressive number of languages Álvaro used in daily life. English is taught to every child in the Netherlands in school, so he learned this along with all the other students.

However, one of the things he really hated when he was a little boy was having to interpret for his mother who, as an adult, had much more trouble learning the languages of her new home countries. If there was something he did not want to become, it had to be an interpreter. At least that is what he once told me.

Álvaro was a born musician. From the age of 5 he played the piano, and he proved to be extremely talented. He also played guitar and several other instruments. Music was his passion. He talked about taking singing lessons lately and taking up the piano and guitar again. He even bought himself two new guitars and I brought a piano over from Europe for him. He played a little but somehow never found the time to really sit down again to start composing music again.

I remember when I was 15 and visiting him at his place when he gave me the lyrics to a song he had written. He wanted me to sing it, and he would play the piano. I feel so sorry now that I can’t remember the words anymore, but more so, because I vaguely remember the feeling of the song, and I did not recognize what he was trying to tell me with that song. I do remember when I was a little older being a singer in a band with Álvaro and several other students from our school.

His mother was a journalist and worked for the Dutch National Broadcasting company. She had her own television program for Spanish immigrants in the Netherlands and her own television production company, Álvaro worked for his mother several years and learned how to direct and film documentaries from the most skilled filmmakers in the Netherlands and even had his production company during his student years to earn some extra money.

I remember him reading every newspaper there was, every day, about 4 or 5 of them. He could read extremely quick. I never believed that he had actually read an entire page in the short time it took him to read it, so I’d ask him questions to test him. And even though he proved me wrong each and every time, I still could not believe it. His analytical powers, combined with his limitless capacity to store facts in his brain, even the most obscure ones, and a brilliant mind, were impressive to put it mildly. I have told him repeatedly that he would make a very good political analyst or perhaps even politician. We need people in politics with the right mind, a just heart, and the passion to do right and the capacity to weigh as many factors as possible in the decision-making process. And he was all that. He did work as a foreign media analyst for the Spanish Embassy for a while in the 90’s. I was happy he had recently been appointed to be the Delegate for Region 2. He was full of ideas on how to serve the California Court Interpreters.

We met in school, when I was 13 and Álvaro 14. He had just moved to Hilversum, my birthplace in the Netherlands, and the city where we finally would get married 40 years later. He told me much later, in 2011 to be precise, that he thought there was an angel in his class when he first saw me in 1976. It was love at first sight, on both sides, but he was too shy to say anything to me. What does a 13 year old girl do when there is a boy she likes? I gave him all the right signals, I made a drawing of him, which I showed to him, I called him under a fake name, I even grabbed him and kissed him when we were alone outside and it was too dark for anyone to see. But somehow, he still was too shy to make his feelings clear to me. We became very close friends, and I went over to his house to “drink tea and do homework” as it is called. But we just listened to music, I listened to him playing the piano, and we talked, and talked and talked. We could talk for hours and hours.

Somehow, we slowly grew apart over the years after graduation. He moved to Spain and I got married to somebody else. From time to time we would get in touch again and each time, we would talk and talk again, as if nothing had ever changed. In 2003 Álvaro married and moved to the USA. He still gave me updates on where he lived, but we did not talk anymore, mainly because calling each other by phone was very expensive then.

In 2011 his stepfather died and Álvaro planned on coming to the Netherlands for the funeral. He contacted me and we went for a walk on the moors where we used to walk, and again, talked and talked. And then, for the first time, he told me what he had been hiding for all those years, namely that I was the love of his life, that I had always been the love of his life. We were both still married at the time, and he went back to the USA. Several months later, the 24th of December 2011 Álvaro suffered a heart attack, and he realized he had to make some drastic changes in his life. In 2012, we got in touch again, first by email, then by phone and Skype. We both got divorced, and in 2016, after exactly 40 years since we first met, we finally got married in Hilversum, amidst our family and friends, most of whom know him from way back. We couldn’t have been happier. We went to Andalusia on our honeymoon, and it was truly magical.

However, he had to go back and I wasn’t allowed to come with him. It was very hard on us, to have finally found our heaven on earth in each other’s arms and still not being able to be together. We have only been able to live together for a little over 2 years…. It has been way too short. We still had so many plans, things we wanted to do, places we wanted to see. We so much wanted to grow old together and retire in his beloved Andalusia, the land of his ancestors. I still can’t comprehend it. 

My love, my soul, my heart, my best friend and husband lives on in me. A word smith, a brilliant mind, a walking encyclopedia for all his friends to use freely, and a most generous heart and loving human being has left us. May he live forever in your memories. And rest assured, he loved being an interpreter!

May we meet again dear.

Hélène Mijnhout.

 

 

For anyone who is interested in labor representation topics. 

Lou Zigman is giving a series of free classes about the topics listed below. I have attended his classes before, and feedback from other participants from our Local has given solid reviews about the presentation and information imparted.
 
It is important for you to RSVP and tell him that you are interested in attending the desired course (I suggest them all!) so that he will be able to send any materials ahead of time, and allow you to join in the call or televideo chat. Be sure to send an email to [email protected] .

Legendary Arbitrator

Lou Zigman invites you to a FREE scheduled Zoom meeting.

 the ziggyjudge

 

40+ Years Nationwide Experience

Taught from a Neutral's Perspective

Guest Labor & Management Speakers

My Way to "Give-Back" to Our Profession

RSVP if U Can - [email protected]

 

Topic: DISCIPLINE - JUST CAUSE
Time:  May 26, 2020 09:00 PM (yes) Pacific Time

                     (US and Canada)

RSVP if U can : [email protected]

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83366463193?pwd=ZU9kMjF2Y2RHc3hqWlM5WGVjSXl2QT09

Meeting ID: 833 6646 3193
Password: 154077
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+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 833 6646 3193
Password: 154077
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kouFlpzmk

  

Topic:  DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION -

               WEINGARTEN - ETHICS
Time: May 27, 2020 09:00 PM (sure) Pacific Time

                      (US and Canada)

RSVP if U can: [email protected]

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83710651823

Meeting ID: 837 1065 1823
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,83710651823# US (San Jose)
+13462487799,,83710651823# US (Houston)

Dial by your location
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+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
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+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
Meeting ID: 837 1065 1823
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcfffZ1E9q

**************************************************

Topic: CONTRACT INTERPRETATION 
Time: June 9, 2020 11:00 PM (Y Not?) Pacific Time

             (US and Canada)

RSVP if U Can- [email protected]

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85493476957

Meeting ID: 854 9347 6957
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,85493476957# US (San Jose)
+13462487799,,85493476957# US (Houston)

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+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 854 9347 6957
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/ktqbtt9hO

 

 

 

INTERPRETER BUDGET UPDATE

May 20, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The CFI Board has been zealously advocating and protecting our members’ interest with extra efforts made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Protecting our budget is no exemption. 

This upcoming state fiscal budget (2020-2021) has been divided in 2 segments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first segment will be issued in June 2020 and the second segment will be issued on or about September 2020. The reason for dividing the budget in 2 segments is due to the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in extending of the income tax due date from April 15 to July 15. 

Although interpreters fall under the Judiciary, our line item fund is a separate from the courts operation budget. All courts are 100% reimbursed for all interpreter related expenses. This includes wages and benefits. 

For the past years, the interpreter line item fund, has been increased.  To our knowledge, not once has the interpreter line item fund ever been decreased. 

Trial Court Interpreter General Line Item Fund History

2013-2014

2014-2015

2015-2016

2016-2017

2017-2018

2018-2019

$90+ million

$94.5+ million

$95.8+ million

$106+million

$108+million

$122.3+ million

 

As customary, every January, the Governor reveals and publishes his proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In January 2020, the Governor proposed an increase of 8.9 million to the general fund, making the interpreter line item fund total $131.2 million with an additional allocation of $1 million for VRI equipment. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic impact, Governor Newsom reworked the budget and made some cuts. The May revised state budget was revealed last Thursday May 14th, 2020 (this is the first segment of the 2020-2021 fiscal state budget). 

Similar to all funds, the interpreter line item fund was not spared of cuts. However, the cuts were not taken from last year’s amount ($122.3+ million) but rather, from the January proposed amount ($131.2 million). Our fund suffered a 5% cut to the overall January proposed fund resulting in a $6.5 million decrease, making the interpreter line item 2020-2021 fund $124.6 million, which is a $2.4 million increase to last year’s fund. 

In addition to the new interpreter line item amount of $124.6 million, the Governor also allocated an additional $9.9 million to the general fund and $9.6 every year thereafter. It is not unusual for funds to received additional allocations of money to the general fund. What that means is that for the next fiscal year (2020-2021) the interpreter line item will consist of an ongoing general amount of $124.6 million (base fund amount to be used only for the reimbursement of interpreters wages and benefits) plus $9.9 million as an additional allocation which brings the interpreter line item fund to $134.5 million. The $9.9 million will be used for both interpreter expenses (wages + benefits) that exceed the general fund and for VRI equipment. 

Holding true to our fiduciary duty, we are working diligently to limit the amount of the $9.9 million courts can use to purchase VRI equipment and to set safeguards for the use of VRI. It is our position that in-person interpreting should be mandatory and the preferred vehicle to deliver meaningful access to justice for all limited English proficient court-users; VRI should only be allowed to connect remote courts who have no employees in the language pair of they seek with courts with larger employee pools with diverse languages on staff; the use of VRI should be limited to routine brief non-complex and non-evidentiary hearings and furthermore, VRI is to be used under the safeguards and protocols outlined in our MOUs. 

Thank you all for your support and trust.

In Solidarity,

Janet Hudec
CFI Local 39000 Vice President
CFI Local 39000 Legislative Chair

 

 
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