News

LASC Explains Coding for Time and A Half ... Still Some Glitches

CFI received this communication from LASC on March 27, 2020:

Update: Timekeeping (COVID-19)

Pursuant to the side letter agreement the union signed with the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, related to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees will be paid time and a half if they are directed to report to a courthouse to work on-site. The Court does not currently have a payroll code to track the additional half time.  Accordingly, the Court is working with the Auditor-Controller to create a timekeeping code for the payroll event.   Once the new payroll code is approved by the Auditor-Controller, the Court will process the retroactive time. Straight time will continue to be paid.  

We will continue to keep you updated as we hear more from the Auditor-Controller.

 

Dear Members,

Please see communication below sent to Governor Newsom and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye regarding the urgent need for action for court interpretersAll the Courts received the letter via email.

 

Member Forum

 

COVID-19 Guidelines for protecting your health and staying safe

 

Dear Colleagues,

We write to share important information about steps we are taking to meet the challenge of Covid-19. In the current climate, the health and well-being of our members is paramount. Over the past few weeks, we have been closely monitoring Covid-19 through updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world who are on the front line working to contain this coronavirus. 

To ensure the safety of our members, CFI Local 39000 is moving quickly. This past Monday we sent out a letter to all courts requesting information on the safety measures taken such as: the ability for members to perform their duties at safe distance; availability of wireless equipment, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, gloves, and surgical quality masks. 

We have also inquired regarding courts operating at minimum capacity, as well as court closures. A few courts have responded quickly with general information; other courts have asked to meet and discuss; unfortunately, some did not respond at all. This past week we have been tirelessly following up on our inquiries with court executive officers regarding safety, the use of accruals, paid leave, modification of work schedules, and closures. 

On Friday March 13, 2020, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye issued a statement on Emergency Response in California Courts indicating “[t]he authority to adjust or suspend court operations rests with local court leadership, taking into account local health authority guidelines.” Shortly after, a few courts decided to close their doors to the public and continue working at minimum capacity. Whether your court is operating at minimum capacity or still conducting business as usual, we make the following recommendations:

General Health Recommendations

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, using the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Stay home if you are sick or are feeling sick.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue (or bent elbow if no tissue available) when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Do not use handkerchiefs for this purpose.

At the Workplace:

  • Maintain a social distance of no less than three feet at all times, preferably six.

  • Avoid handshakes, touching elevator buttons, handrails, and door handles (use gloves, or if no gloves, use a tissue and immediately throw it away). If contact may have taken place, do not touch your face(especially your eyes, nose and mouth) until you have been able to wash your hands. 

  • Do not share your pen, phone, or any other personal object with anyone else. Clean often throughout the day with sanitizer wipes or other appropriate disinfectant.

  • If touching paper or any other object handled by others (traffic citations, orders, calendars, minute orders, referral papers, etc.), remember to immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. 

  • You should be receiving gloves, disinfecting wipes, alcohol wipes, and hand sanitizer. Use them! (If you haven’t received them, request them immediately. We have already informed courts that these items should be provided. If your supervisor indicates unawareness or that orders still not placed, contact your nearest steward, delegates, or immediately email us at [email protected] .

  • There is no need to stand/sit as close to limited-English Proficiency speakers (LEP) or attorneys as we have traditionally done in our roles as court interpreters.

  • Use interpreting equipment as much as possible, whether interpreting for individuals or in group settings. If the equipment is cabled, stand behind the LEP for whom you’re interpreting. Let your steward or delegate know if you don’t have enough equipment for group settings. Radioshack amplifiers still used by some interpreters may not offer enough protective distance. Sanitize the headsets and microphones with wipes after each use.

  • If no wireless equipment is available, switch to consecutive mode when necessary while maintaining a safe distance.

  • If a minimum of three-feet safe distance cannot be maintained, other strategies to be considered include:

1. Position yourself slightly behind LEP court user, but not parallel or in close contact. This position may protect you more in case of any sudden coughing or sneezing. In this position, remind the LEP to look forward instead of toward the interpreter. Avoid positions wherein you are facing each other as much as possible. 

2. Avoid sitting at counsel table during hearings/trails. Position your chair at the recommended distance and keep visual contact with LEP and attorney throughout the proceeding. 

  • Make arrangements with management and request permission to leave the courtroom when/if no cases are pending. Follow the protocol which may include letting the clerk/bailiff/coordinator know the proper way to contact you should your presence be necessary again.

  • Immediately report any concerns to you supervisor/manager in writing or, if not possible, to the judge on the record. Please also report incident to you steward/delegate.

Courtroom holding and Jail Settings 

  • If a separate room is available for attorney to speak with client through a phone or a glass partition, make the request.

  • If bringing electronic equipment with you, a receiver should be kept inside the jail and handled by the deputies/bailiffs— but not the interpreter.

  • If safe distance from all parties is not possible while interpreting, express your concerns to your supervisor and contact your steward/delegate. 

In the Office:

  • Maintain social distance. CDC recommends at least six feet. If this is not possible, bring it to the attention of your supervisor and ask for another waiting space (unused jury deliberation room, additional unused office, etc.) wherein you could be given the necessary space to minimize the spread of contagions.

  • Stewards should approach local supervisors and ask them to consider allowing unneeded interpreters to leave early, especially in small/packed offices to reduce possibility of transmission. 

We are currently reaching out to other court unions to push for paid leave in case of court closures, home stay due to school closures and lack of childcare, caring for ill family members due to Covid-19, or inability to work due to having been exposed to Covid-19 and, will continue to contact courts to make our demands known. Since our benefits are tied to the largest bargaining unit and each court entity has the authority deal with COVID-19 within their own jurisdictions, continuity and consistency may vary widely throughout the state. We remain committed in obtain the best financial situation possible for all members.  

Many of our members could be classified as pertaining to what the CDC has identified as “high risk” individuals. In our inquiries we have found that many courts contemplating closures have in place a policy similar to the following, and which the Local supports fully:

Any employee who is age 60 or over and/or who is identified as having a serious, chronic medical condition as designated by HCA and/or the CDC (such as heart disease, lung disease, an acute respiratory condition, diabetes, or a compromised immune system, pregnancy), may voluntarily telecommute if they are in an assignment conducive to telework as determined by the management. If the employee is not in an assignment conducive to telework, they will have the option to stay home on paid leave without using leave accruals. 

If you are a person qualified as high risk, we encourage you to contact your supervisor and Human Resources to see if your court has a similar policy. Presently March 15, 2020, the Courts that we have confirmed where this is in place are Los Angeles and Orange. The latter is planning to implement Video Remote Interpreting, so the possibility of telecommuting is real … the Union has asked for a meet & confer to work out the details. It should be noted that the Union is pressing the issue that in the case of closures, or if employee interpreters are sent home on quarantine or care for children or infected family members, it would be on some sort of paid leave, without using accruals. Contra Costa courts have closed and their employees are receiving their salaries in the form of Holiday Pay. Presently, San Diego is allowing employees to use their accrued 100% Sick Leave; should that run out, they are fronted another 80 hours in advance, which will have to be re-accrued later.

In Governor Newsom’s executive order of March 12, 2020, Enhancing State and Local Government’s Ability to Respond to Covid-19 Pandemic, he has removed waiting periods for unemployment and disability insurance for Californians who lose work due to Covid-19 outbreak. These benefits apply if:

  • You are unable to work due to having or been exposed to corona (confirmed by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. Benefits amounts are approximately 60-70% of wages (depending on income). The Governor’s Executive order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. 

  • You are unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with Covid-19 (confirmed by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member. Benefits amounts are approximately 60-70% of wages (depending on income).  

  • You are child’s school is closed, and you have to miss work to be there for them, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Eligibility considerations include if you have no other care options and if you are unable to continue working your normal hours remotely. 

  • Your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to Covid-19: You can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to Covid-19 and expected to return to work within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week. The Governor’s Executive order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. 

Due to the nature of the current situation, CFI will be requesting courts give employee (full time, part time, and intermittent) first right of refusal for work (if optional) in the case of courts operating at minimum capacity before contracting independents. 

As this very fluid situation continues to evolve quickly, the entire leadership team will continue to work tirelessly to monitor and achieve the best outcome for our members. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have information to share, questions, suggestions, or concerns. Please stay safe and healthy. This is as much a collective as an individual effort. 

In Solidarity,

CFI-Local 39000 Board
Mike Ferreira- President
Janet Hudec- Vice President
Carmen Ramos - Secretary Treasurer
Hernan Vargas- Region 1 Delegate
Majo Caceros- Region 2 Delegate
Rosa Trevizo- Region 3 Delegate
Silvia San Martín - Region 4 Delegate

 

*Please take a moment and review the Health and Safety Clauses found in your Region’s MOU. If you feel that there is something that is unsafe, you should exercise your rights under the MOU, and follow the guidelines for protecting your health and staying safe.  

Health and Safety Clauses in MOU by Region

Region 1

Management will provide and maintain a safe and healthy place of employment.
Employees should report to the manager of Interpreter Services any hazardous or unsafe
practices, equipment and/or conditions of which they are aware.
 
The Court shall offer free annual tuberculosis tests available through the County Health
Department to any interpreter who believes he/she may have been exposed to TB at work.
The Court shall make available information to help educate interpreters on issues concerning
communicable diseases and safety measures for working with prisoners and psychiatric
patients.
 
The Court shall make electronic equipment available at each facility to interpret for prisoners
known to the Court to have a communicable disease and such disease is reasonably known to
have an airborne transmission. If the Court is aware that a prisoner has such communicable
disease, it shall notify the interpreter.

  

Region 2

Section 1:
Management will provide and maintain a safe and healthy place of employment. Employees shall
report to the manager of interpreter services or Court Safety Officer any hazardous or unsafe
practices, equipment and/or conditions of which they are aware.
 
Section 2:
The Court shall offer TB tests at no cost to the employee annually and at any time that an interpreter
reasonably believes he/she may have been exposed to TB at work.
 
The Court shall offer all interpreters training on tuberculosis and safety measures for working with
prisoners and psychiatric patients.
 
Interpreters shall not be required to interpret for:

  1. Inmates or other individuals they reasonably believe have communicable diseases without electronic equipment that allows the interpreter to maintain a safe distance.
  2. Inmates in a confined or locked space without law enforcement supervision.

Region 3

 

Region 4

 

 

 

[Update]
New Steward, and Refresher Training at CWA Local 9511 

Escondido, California 

March 21, 2020

The local is requesting that all members interested in attending the New Steward/Refresher Training scheduled at CWA Local 9511 in Escondido, California, please send a confirmation of attendance email to the Local at [email protected]; in the subject line, please write “Escondido Steward Training.” Please include within the body of the email:

Your Name

Physical address where you can receive materials

Superior Court of which you’re an employee

Cell number

With the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 contagion, the local may have to switch from an in-person event to having the training via a webinar format (the irony of doing this as a video remote instruction – VRI – is not lost on the training team). You will be advised and given a link, should that come to be the case.

CWA, through the District 9 office in Sacramento, has put in place protocols for its employees (Louis Rocha, Jr., our trainer, being one of them) and locals; for the time being, employees are not permitted to take flights, and all locals are instructed to refrain from, and in fact cancel any gatherings of ten or more persons in the same room … as well as all the other CDC advisements: wash hands before touching face or eating, keep social distance to one meter or more, stay home and self-quarantine if symptomatic, wear a mask if cough and/or fever develops, etc.

It is very important that our local get a firm number of people attending so as to make the decision to either webinar or have an in-person training, should the number be below ten persons total, as would be the case in the latter event.

We are looking forward to training new stewards and supporting existing stewards with as much training and mentoring as possible. These are our first steps toward building a stronger local, which in turn builds a stronger union movement for all of us.

In solidarity,

Michael Ferreira
President

 

 

 

CFI Local 39000 Letter Sent to All Courts re: COVID-19 Preparedness Response

 

RE:       COVID-19 Pandemic Protocols for CFI Local 39000 Members


Our Local is concerned with the health and safety of our membership. Our goal is to provide our membership — your employees — the most comprehensive safety and prevention measures. This must be done in an environment that encourages open and free communication without fear of reprisal or negative impacts on pay or continued employment.

To ensure that CFI Local 39000 is aware of the Court’s protocols in place to protect and prevent spread of the Coronavirus, the Local needs answers concerning the questions listed below. 

  1. What are the Court’s protocols in place?
  2. Are safety teams trained on the protocols?
  3. What specific safety measures are in place to prevent infection while at work?
  4. Is there a contact tracing process in place?
  5. Is there a symptom or exposure reporting protocol or process?
  6. Do you have a business/work contingency plan in case of a required closure, or partial closures of courts? Are furloughs a part of the plan?
  7. What safeguards are in place to protect interpreter employees who interface with prisoners and the public?
  8. How will wage payment to employees be handled in case of closures and people cannot fill out their online timecards from a dedicated court terminal?
  9. How will wage payment to employees be handled in case of employees with positive tests, or have confirmed exposure, or have been quarantined?
  10. How will attendance absences/occurrences be handled as a result of any of the incidents in #8 and #9 above? Will employees have an order of priority of accrued time to be used in case of illness, quarantine, or furlough? 
  11. How has the above information been communicated to employees?
  12. Do you have working wireless interpreter equipment and the accompanying sanitizing wipes available to all interpreter employees who may request to use them?

Can employees opt-out to any work assignments at locations identified as high risk without discipline?  Please provide the information by March 13, 2020. If any part of this request is denied or if any materials are unavailable, please state so in writing and provide the remaining items by the above date, which the Union will accept without prejudice to its position that it is entitled to all documents and information sought in this request. In the event that this inquiry should result in a grievance, which then goes to arbitration, the Union will oppose the introduction of any non-disclosed information. 

The Union remains available to discuss further issues or concerns that arise in the future regarding protocols or processes as events change. Thank you for your cooperation and prompt attention in advance.

 

 
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