California Federation of Interpreters

Dear members, 

On Saturday, August 17th, CFI Local 39000 will be hosting a training session for all members wishing to become stewards and/or update and refine their skills. Even if you are unsure as to making a commitment to become a steward, you are invited to find out what the “front line” of the labor movement looks like. 

The training is mandatory for anyone who wishes to be added to the steward lists for their Region/County. Some of the topics to be covered are:

-      Union structure, guiding documents, and protocols.

-      Role, Rights, and Responsibilities of a union steward.

-      How to memorialize, share communications, and collaborate on representation issues.

-      Grievances and their processing; arbitrations and their preparations; unfair labor practice filings (Public Employee Relations Board).

-      Open discussion about any issue of interest or concern..

The training will take place at the Local office between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Please be on time. We ask that interested members respond to this email no later than the close of business on Thursday, August15, 2019.

For those who are based in Northern California and unable to come to the Santa Fe Springs office, the Local is planning for a steward training in Northern California.


Michael Ferreira
CFI President
June 28, 2019
San Diego

Where’s   The   Fairness       


In a nutshell:
  • Once again, time-back purchase option requested to be discussed among management.
  • VRI proposal made some progress. Region added some JCC recommendations to their counter. 
  • There was movement on wages. 
  • We pressed for future bargaining dates and the courts declared a possible impasse.
Keep reading:  There was discussion on the following: 
Time Buy-back Purchase: 
Once again, we ask to open discussion on time buy-back purchase for San Bernardino. The courts refused to open it up for discussion. Wiley’s response was, “The buy back benefit is considered leave, not all courts do buy back; therefore, file a grievance.”
The courts counter on VRI showed some progress. The courts agreed to add some JCC guidelines for using VRI in court proceedings. This is a great victory. Your bargaining committee has been working hard on this issue. We have been talking to and have united members from different organizations, such as Public Defenders and their supervisors, bar associations, and other stakeholders who care about this issue. 
The courts are still refusing to add technology guidelines and “court location” in the agreement. Why are they refusing to add the word “court location”? Because they are planning to have interpreters work from remote locations, e.g. someone’s home, hotel, a conference… It seems these will not be us, employee interpreters: We work in court.
Also, the courts put back in their counter proposal the 25% stipend for VRI. Wiley stated, “We understand you don’t want the 25% stipend, but we want to reward people for doing VRI.” Again, it seems ¨people¨ may not quite be us, the employees…
Laurie, our spokesperson, asked, “Why can’t you add that to our wages? We’d like the 25% monetized in our wages.” Wiley replied, “We can’t do that because we don’t know what the cost of the 25% is actually going to be. VRI will avoid costs of Independent contractors. A full-time contractor costs the courts $400-$1000 a day, it’ll also avoid cost of intermittent, part-timers and travel.” So, once again: We, employees, don’t work from home. Others do. Who will get the 25%?
Higher Wages:
During our bargaining session of June 10th, The Courts indicated that they would email us their wage proposal prior to our next session of June 28 to allow us time to work on their proposal and in an effort to move things along. They did not send us their wage proposal until June 27, one day prior to our next session, in Word very late at night. The wage proposal they emailed us was an 8% increase: 3% upon ratification, 2.5% second year and 2.5% third year. Wiley will complain that we had to caucus in the morning. Just watch.
Your bargaining team rejected their proposal and countered with a 15% increase: 5% upon ratification, 5% & 5% throughout the 3 year contract, including a side letter similar to what San Bernardino and Riverside have, to help offset the increase cost in OC and SD retirement contributions. We also reiterated that we don’t want the 25% stipend for VRI, and that instead they should add that money to our wage increase. 
The courts rejected our proposal, stating that the side letter is a pension proposal and not a wage proposal. Laurie argued, “Even though it’s called pension, it’s still wages, it’s money.” 
The courts countered with a wage proposal of 9%: 3% upon ratification, 3% & 3% throughout a 3-year contract, and indicated that this is their last and final offer. 
Our spokesperson continues to press for higher wages and define us as “highly skilled workers not being compensated accordingly.” She argued that “we are trying to get our members something that is truly an increase and not just a status quo, where the increase is actually money in our pocket. The state of California has decided that our services are critical for due process and every lawyer that I have spoken to has said that interpreters have an unbelievable skill set. She also added, “From our perspective, there is agreement that San Bernardino and Riverside did the right thing, and we feel that we need something similar for the rest of the counties. Let’s keep an open mind and come back to talk about it.”  
Potential impasse? 
Your committee asked for another date to bargaining and Wiley stated, “I think we’re at the end. I’m usually not someone who declares impasse, but I think we need to contact a state mediator to assist us in our next session.”  
Our jobs and livelihood are at stake. We can’t just cross our arms and watch them try to destroy our profession. It’s time to take our profession back!  The issues at the table do not only affect Region 4 interpreters. They will affect all employee interpreters.  We need to show the courts our statewide strength. 
It’s time for us to join forces. Continue mobilizing, continue talking to our stakeholders and especially to undecided non-members. It’s making a difference. This is the time to join in, everyone.
We appreciate you standing by your bargaining team, but things are getting real, and we need EVERYONE’S support to achieve the best contract possible for ALL. We are in this together. UNITED we BARGAIN… DIVIDED we BEG. 
Our unity is our strength. By presenting a united front before administration we show our power.  
A big “thank you!” to Karla Hoelscher from Riverside, Es Neblina from Imperial, Vanessa Bonilla and Gemma Yosick from Vista and San Diego, and Ben Sanchez and Kiet Tuan from Orange County for taking time off to Watch and Support. 
We encourage you to attend the negotiations. If you will be participating in the Watch & Support, please submit your time off request and email us at [email protected] to reserve your spot. 
We might be at impasse so we don’t know when our next bargaining session will be. We will update you once we have more information. 
Please support your bargaining team by wearing red on the days we are at the table and also every Wednesday. 
In union there is strength. It’s the “U” and “I” in union that makes us strong.



In Solidarity, 

Your Region 4, Bargaining Team 
CFI Local 39000, CWA-TNG


Maria Benitez
Jackie Ruiz
Silvia San Martín
LouLou Tovar
Ana Fuller
Laurie Burgess- Lead Spokesperson 
Ed Venegas- Spokesperson

Dear Region 3 members:
As we gear up to start our Bargaining, we are faced with the difficulties the Janus decision brought to our Federation. We have been hit especially hard as a result of the internal turmoil we have endured these past years and the courts have “tried” to take advantage of our situation. We are only as strong as our weakest link and although many might think we are down in our luck, we have proven to be stronger than what was expected and that the best is yet to come. 
The power of unions comes from the number and strength of its members. The passing of Janus was a direct hit against workers with its sole intention of eroding the power of collective bargaining. As interpreters, we are especially vulnerable. Should we lose our Local, we would be in danger of losing our wages as they are now, our benefits, accruals, retirement benefits, and the right to collectively bargain. As we are all aware, when negotiating, court administration always plays hard ball and proposals are disadvantageous to our livelihood. Without union protection, courts will always have the upper hand and take full advantage of the opportunity to take away what we have worked hard to accomplish. 
For the upcoming round of negotiations, we have hired the Law Firm of Messing, Adam & Jasmin. This law firm focuses on representing the public sector and specializes in bargaining.  Messing, Adam & Jasmin is well known for their successful bargaining strategies, mobilization approaches, media connections, no backing-down attitude, expertise in PERB (including the interpreter act and PEPRA), and has successfully gone up against Wiley Price & Radulovich Law Firm. They have helped our colleagues in Region 4 turn the negotiations around since recently joining their Bargaining Team. Please take a look at the link below so you can see who they are and their achievements in the public sector. 
On another note, our lobbying efforts have paid off tremendously. In the past few months CFI members along with our lobbyist (Ignacio Hernandez) have been diligently and tirelessly been advocating for our profession at the state capitol. We are happy to report that Governor Newsom has heard our request and has awarded us with an additional ongoing $10 million dollars to the interpreter fund. Our interpreter fund now holds a robust $120 million for wages and civil expansion. No funds from the interpreter fund are earmarked for VRI. Governor Newsom also awarded $2.35 million to the courts innovation fund for signage ($1 million) and technology ($1.35million). The innovation item funds will be distributed on need basis using a grant system. Legislatively we are also working on several bills that will empower our professions in both the public and private sectors. More information will be coming soon. 
With negotiations at our doorstep, I ask you to please step up and participate. Please nominate, volunteer and mobilize. In the next coming weeks we will be asking for wage increases, wage steps, longevity, limit to the use of VRI, me too clause, full time employment for OTS interpreters, and more. How will we be able to protect our interests, and the interests of people we serve if we don't have collective Bargaining? In order to win a fair contract we need to unite and stand together. We are the Federation. We are CFI, Local 39000.

In Solidarity,

Carmen Ramos                                  Janet Hudec
Secretary/Treasurer CFI 39000        Vice-President CFI 3900
R3 Steward                                       R3 Steward  

Dear LA County Members,

Our fellow Locals are requesting support from any LA County members who might be able to join them on the picket lines.

On behalf of Local 29047, our Hawaiian Airlines LAX flight attendant members will be informational picketing at LAX airport, Terminal 5 departures level on July 25th from 8am to 9am.  

Our brothers & sisters, if you are in the area during the above time can we request your support?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

In Solidarity,

Melissa Hooper
Local 29047 President 

June 26, 2019

In a response to inquiries from Region 2 members, the following is a brief history of events that have occurred with respect to bargaining/meet & confer issues that are being addressed by your union.

In a formal letter dated December 21, 2018, CFI Local 39000 received a request to bargain over the impacts of VRI; the Region’s intention was to begin meetings in January of this year.

The Union responded to the Region on January 25, 2019, explaining that meet and confer would be premature since the report on the Judicial Council’s pilot project would not be released until March. 

The Judicial Council approved the use of VRI in judicial proceedings and related VRI guidelines for the courts on March 15, 2019. (Get link to the report; get letter from Janet Hudec that was sent by our Legislative Committee) Your local responded to the report with a letter outlining the flaws in the Pilot Project; the interpreters who participated (Sacramento and Merced) in the VRI Pilot Project had many misgivings and were witness to a mounting evidence of failures, all of which was conspicuously left out of consideration in the final study presented.

Over the last several months Union staff has asked for information on interpreter usage and VRI usage information. We are still waiting on a response from the Judicial Council, which maintains those records.

Throughout this period the members charged with anti-union activity were precluded from serving on the committee during the investigation and trial. In April and then June, the remaining three committee members for Region 2 declined to continue as part of the team. It should be noted that in the Bylaws for our local, we need a minimum of three members on the team; the MOU’s specify a maximum of 5. Had they offered to continue in their service to their colleagues, we would be further ahead of the curve on this. 

Our local’s temporary administrator, Ed Venegas, has announced nominations and elections to form a new bargaining committee for Regions 2 and 3 after some of the committee members declined to continue serving. However, in Region 3 both Janet Hudec and Rosa Trevizo have indicated that they are fully willing to continue at their post, and during this present period of nominations & election of additional bargaining committee members in Region 3, two other members have been nominated and have accepted to run and serve. The two additional candidates are Joseph Tobin and Carmen Ramos.

On May 30, 2019, Region 2 asked for dates to bargain and threatened to impose if the local did not provide dates by the end of June. President Michael Ferreira called Kim Turner, Regional Chair, and in the conversation reconfirmed that CFI Local 39000 is accepting the region’s request to bargain over the impacts of VRI, as well as asserting our right to the reopener on the financials of the present contract; a follow-up email was sent to Ms. Turner in confirmation.  We plan on providing dates and will update members as this develops. 

The newly-sworn board and staff have made efforts to form a new bargaining committee for Region 2. A call for nominations went out for both Region 3 and Region 2 on June 18th of this year, specifying a time frame until the 28th to nominate, and for nominees to accept. It is expected that committee members will be announced after the electronic ballots are counted (should there be more than five nominees per regional committee) on July 5th, or shortly thereafter. If there are no more than five, then those will be deemed elected by acclamation, sworn in immediately, and begin the preparations for bargaining.

Bargaining is one of the cornerstonesof union representation; this union has not shrugged it’s duty to bargain collectively for the interpreter units in Regions 2 and 3; both for affiliated members in good standing, as well as non-members. Now is the moment when we need to work together to safeguard our unit work, our right to a wage commensurate with our skillset, and the professional best practices and ethics. We are experiencing an onslaught from every region in the form of Video Remote Interpreting and court administration’s drive to decrease the number of employee interpreters, raising the workload for all who are left. 

In closing, it bears mentioning Region 2 has a proud history of activism and has been the touchstone of accomplishment to which all the other Regions strive in terms of mobilization and outreach to community and justice partners. Their unity of action (rallies, outreach, rolling strikes, etc.) is an example to emulate throughout the state. It is what helped them secure the best level of representation and bargaining for interpreters. 

We need that same energy as we face our future. It’s your contract, it’s your decision to unify, mobilize, and act to get the best you can out of it.  

In solidarity,

Michael C. Ferreira
CFI President 


Judicial Council formed the Interpreter Act Working Group


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