R3 Bargaining Bulletin #9

Region 3's Last Best and Final Offer

Sacramento_ (March 20, 2017) Last Wednesday, Region 3 presented a “last best final offer” (LBFO) to your bargaining committee. The Region’s negotiator did not formally declare impasse, but shut down negotiations nonetheless.

The Region raised its wage offer substantially in the last best final offer (full LBFO in pdf), from 8% to 12% over three years (12.6% with compounding). But the wage offer is contingent on members accepting four proposals from the Region that would eliminate or significantly compromise employee priority for work in numerous ways (see pages 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the LBFO).

Considering all that is at stake and the Region’s threat to withdraw the offer in 30 days, your bargaining team will be scheduling three meetings to talk about the choices we have and the offer: one in Sacramento, one in the central part of Region 3, and one in the south. The Region’s proposal will be presented and discussed in detail, as will the bargaining committee’s proposals, and members will vote on whether to accept or reject the offer. The bargaining committee recommends rejection of the LBFO and will explain why, but it respects each member's right to understand the proposals and choose. If a majority of voting members rejects the proposal, it will send us back to the table, or to mediation, with more leverage to reach a better agreement.

Reasons for Bargaining Team Recommendation

Your bargaining team does not recommend ratification- and urges members to see the big picture. The Region hopes members will be shortsighted and approve the overall agreement in exchange for the raise offered. But the concessions they want us to make have far-reaching impacts for all interpreters and we believe those concessions are unacceptable. Moreover, the wage offer made, while a big improvement, falls far short of addressing the pay disparities and lack of wage growth that interpreters have suffered over the past ten years plus.

The bargaining committee argues that the deterioration in the contract of your statutory rights to employee priority for work is harmful to all members. Additionally, the Region’s demand for concessions in exchange for fair treatment continues a fundamentally unfair pattern that has left interpreter wage growth far behind other employees. The Region’s LBFO would continue that unfair pattern. At the end of the three-year term, it would leave interpreter wages well below what interpreters currently earn as contractors or as employees working in other units, and it would leave us with a weaker contract.

We have shown that CFI interpreters have been treated inequitably compared to other employees. This pattern of pay inequity for interpreters is also harmful to the courts’ own interest in having a reliable workforce of employee interpreters in the region.

Region’s Negotiator Shuts Down Negotiations

The decision to stop negotiating before impasse by issuing a last best final offer is out of the ordinary. Normally, parties work through issues with the goal of reaching a tentative agreement that the bargaining committee can recommend for ratification to the membership. Likewise, the parties normally take advantage of mediation to work toward a tentative agreement. 

The Region’s negotiator is known for his outbursts and was in true form last Wednesday before we broke for the lunch session. He cussed at the CFI bargaining committee and shut down any response or discussion of the last best final offer. The Region’s spokesperson also questioned the bargaining committee’s authority to reach an agreement after seeing a copy of the letter sent out the same day by TNG-CWA’s temporary administrator. The bargaining team asserted it is the representative elected and authorized to bargain.

The parties agreed to meet after lunch, but the afternoon session was unilaterally cancelled without notifying your bargaining committee, foreclosing any further response from the Union. Your bargaining team has objected to this counterproductive conduct and take-it-or-leave-it approach, and notified the Region that we have a counter proposal to make.

Sacramento Interpreters Rally

While all that was happening, Sacramento interpreters held a lunch-time rally March 15 in support of the bargaining team and the goal of pay equity and fair treatment in the next contract. Interpreters turned out in force with signs that called for “Equal Pay for Equal Work” and chanted “Same Job, Same Skills, Less Pay? No Way!” as court staff, lawyers, and judges received flyers from demonstrating interpreters.

Stay tuned for more info on upcoming meetings; dates and locations to be announced.