On April 27, 2007, Arturo Cásarez, Advocacy Director of the California Court Interpreters Association (CCIA), attended a Judicial Council meeting in San Francisco to speak directly to the Council regarding the immediate need for a compensation increase for certified and registered Independent Contractor Court Interpreters.
Mr. Cásarez reminded the Council, chaired by Chief Justice Ronald George, that California's ICs have not had a compensation/wage increase in 7 years. Mr. Cásarez discussed the sharply rising Consumer Price Index and other cost of living increases during this same period, pointing out the obvious link to the ongoing shortage of qualified court interpreters. The CCIA representative proceeded to ask for a show of hands from those present that had not had a wage increase during this same period of time, noting for the record he was apparently the only one. Mr. Cásarez went on to state that ICs are seeking $350.00/full day and $193.00/half day.
This is the second time CCIA has made a direct appeal to the Judicial Council concerning IC compensation and related interpreter issues. On November 4, 2005, then CCIA president Arturo Cásarez made an unprecedented presentation to this same governing body, stressing the need for them to recognize this critical issue and to take action before even more ICs exit the courts for more lucrative interpreting opportunities.
CCIA's repeated appeals to the Judicial Council's Court Interpreters Advisory Panel to give ICs a designated forum to discuss compensation issues resulted in the formation of a subcommittee of the Court Executives Advisory Committee. CCIA representatives and numerous ICs from throughout California made presentations to this committee in San Francisco on November 7, 2006, and again in Los Angeles on January 9, 2007. The CEAC subcommittee is scheduled to report their findings and recommendations to the Judicial Council later this month.
We will be contacting you again in the very near future to solicit your support in a mass e-mail/letter writing campaign directly to members of the Judicial Council concerning their upcoming decision regarding IC compensation.
You've probably received a pamphlet and postcard survey from the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI). You may also be aware of recent statements made by representatives of CFI regarding the need for employees and ICs to join together for "an issue all court interpreters can rally around."
Nearly three years ago CCIA expressed a similar sentiment, suggesting that interpreters put aside their differences for the good of the profession (refer to the August 2004 Polyglot, "President's Message"). CCIA's position has long been that all interpreters, ICs and employees alike, need to end the derisive division of the two groups in order to move forward for everyone's benefit. At that same time, CCIA reaffirmed that the interpreting profession has always supported both employees and ICs and that fact would not change simply because of new legislation.
We are pleased our colleagues' representatives acknowledge there are some common issues we can agree on. CCIA responded to CFI's requests to meet with them to discuss such issues on two separate occasions. Each time, CCIA representatives made it very clear that CCIA's number one objective is to secure a raise for Independent Contractor Court Interpreters, the only interpreters who have not received a compensation increase in 7 years.
CCIA also assured CFI leaders there are no foreseeable plans to join forces with employee representatives in order to garner further increases for union represented interpreters, although we have never taken any action to adversely affect employee gains. Likewise, we do not expect the union to take any action to interfere with our ongoing efforts to obtain this long overdue IC raise.
CCIA welcomes CFI joining us in our efforts to:
We embrace this new resolution from CFI acknowledging the need for ICs in the court system, as well as their expressed desire to move forward in a spirit of cooperation. However, should you be considering signing and returning the most recent postcard, please remember what this resulted in the last time you were asked to do so. Those cards were used as a show of support for the passage of SB371. It's also important to note that CFI cannot represent any non union ICs or negotiate on their behalf, although we are not suggesting they have offered to do so.
As always your CCIA membership is vital to our efforts. Thank you if you've already sent in your dues for 2007. If not, we need your support today. If you know interpreters who benefit from the work CCIA has been doing but who aren't currently our members, share this with them and encourage them to join the Association working for nearly 4 decades to protect their interests and to improve the interpreting profession.