California Federation of Interpreters

PERB charge against LASC

People will remember that at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 there was a lot of chaos and fear; the Union’s primary concern was for the health and safety of our members, and their ability to continue to make a living/income. In that vain, and under the coercion of LASC administration, your union representatives signed a side letter unilaterally presented by LASC to extend the contract for one year. We were told at the time that if we did not go along with what the other LASC unions had agreed to, our people would be required to report on site, and would not be paid the premium like other units on site. Of course, we signed … but knowing that a contract cannot be extended without the agreement of ALL SIGNATORIES to the document. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo courts were not in on the agreement, and did not sign on to the one year extension of the contract.

We filed a ULP when they denied us the right to return to the table last August … and PERB just know has entered charges against LASC, meaning that there is merit to our complaint against them. We will keep you informed as to our progress in the ULP process.

When we prevail, we are asking that anything negotiated, particularly with regard to salaries, be retroactive to last August, when the court should have begun negotiating a new contract.

In unity,

Mike Ferreira
President

PERB Charge against LASC

 

 

Dear Members,

If you wish to observe the vote count but are unable to do so in person you have the opportunity to join via Zoom on December 22nd.  You can do this by sending an email to [email protected] to obtain a link.  Please note that in order for you to participate the camera function on your device has to be on at all times so that your face can be clearly seen. 

Requests made to [email protected] will also receive the link.

Regards,

Election Committee

 

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 

 

 

 
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