IGA just received some encouraging news from our legal team. Region 21 of the NLRB will submit our case for the reclassification EOIR interpreters as employees to the NLRB’s Division of Advice. This means that before the NLRB issues a determination, their Advice Division will consider the facts of our case and additional submissions from our attorneys. While an unusual course correction at this point, this step is in line with the NLRB’s actions in other recent high profile cases such those against Über and Lyft.
We believe this to be encouraging news. It essentially means that our fight for better working conditions in EOIR venues is far from over. We are in it to win it!
We encourage interpreters that have received a contract extension to consider signing it and continue serving the EOIR as admirably and professionally as always. In this way we will show that we take our commitment to due process and professional interpretation in court very seriously. While our attorneys have been asked to present additional submissions under a tight deadline, we don’t know how long this process will take. We will continue to use this time to prepare for a positive result.
Keep talking to your colleagues, greet them kindly and get their contact info. We will need to get in touch with them come election time, so this is really important. Remember to stay connected, we will continue to update you and keep you posted on the latest news.
Thanks to Rebecca Beitsch at PewTrusts.org http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2016/08/17/in-many-courtrooms-bad-interpreters-can-mean-justice-denied
In Many Courtrooms, Bad Interpreters Can Mean Justice Denied
Patricia Michelsen-King was observing the proceedings in a Chesterfield, Virginia, courtroom a few years ago when a man shouted in Spanish from the back of the courtroom, “I didn’t rape anybody!”
Michelsen-King, who teaches Spanish interpretation at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the outburst was the result of bad translation from his court interpreter. Though the man was accused of running a red light, his interpreter told him he was accused of a “violación,” which in Spanish does not mean “violation,” but “rape.”
The interpreter should have used the word “infracción,” said Michelsen-King, who was in the courtroom because she was about to begin working there as an interpreter, too. When she approached the distressed man, he was sitting with his interpreter, admitting to the traffic offense but firmly denying what he thought was a rape charge.
Such misunderstandings are surprisingly common in state and local courts. Because many states and localities don’t use tested court interpreters and ignore federal rules for when interpreters are required, many criminal defendants and civil litigants with limited English skills are not equipped to navigate the complex legal system, jeopardizing their constitutional rights.
“There is ample experience and anecdotal evidence to substantiate that many [people with limited English proficiency] regularly come before the courts and are unable, without language access services, to protect or enforce their legal rights, with devastating consequences to life, liberty, family, and property interests,” the American Bar Association (ABA) said in a resolution four years ago urging courts at all levels to adopt standards for interpreter services and calling for adequate funding.
The lack of skilled interpreters is less of a problem in federal courts, where interpreters must pass a competitive test. Most states certify court interpreters, requiring that they pass a test to demonstrate their language skills. But many state certification tests aren’t as rigorous as the federal one, and many state and local courts allow uncertified interpreters to serve even if they haven’t passed the test. Many states also ignore the federal mandate that they provide free interpreters in both criminal and civil courts.
In some states, the U.S. Justice Department has stepped in. Since 2010, the department has investigated courts in Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina and Rhode Island for failing to comply with federal rules.
Because there are so many U.S. residents — roughly 25.6 million — who have limited proficiency in English, the credibility of the nation’s justice system relies on competent interpreters, Michelsen-King said.
“People think the interpreter is just there for the person who doesn’t speak English,” she said. “Maybe it’s the defendant, maybe it’s a witness. But people forget the interpreter is there for the benefit of everyone. So the lawyers can do their job. So judges and juries can make good decisions.”
We want to thank the following donors for helping us meet our GoFundMe goal in record time. These are the generous folks that helped send IGA leaders to the National People’s Action leadership week-long training in Chicago!
Noel Abraham, Letizia Ambrosino, Elsa Anaya, Julie B., Yetide Badaki, Fernando Becerril, Olivia Bernal, Sandra Bezerra, Carmelina Cadena, Claudia Calle Moenaert, Ismail Charania, Nancy de la Rosa, Muhammad Farooq, K. Gallindo, Gladys Garcia, Yvette Garcia, Charles Gray, Perla Johnsen, Roxane King, Romina Kluss, Hadiza Kyari, Donette Lancaster, Stephany Magaña, Naeem Mazhar, Anjie Mikho, Marian Needham, Helen Park, Genevieve Peprah, Maribel Pintado Espiet, Maria Portillo, Rosemina Punjan, Patricia Rivadeneira, Jean Rodney, Montserrat Sala, Claudia Sanchez, Susana Sardas, Rebeca Sotura, Marlar Swe, Johanna Valle Sobalvarro, And… 7 Anonymous Donors.
It was exhilarating and extremely challenging! We had 10-hours of classes and workshops a day, the rest of time was spent discussing how to apply what we were learning and making plans for IGA. Many concepts were new to us and most of it will be very useful and directly applicable to reaching our goals. We learned how to conduct more productive meetings, how to organize more effectively, how to prioritize goals, cut issues and hold ourselves accountable… This is the work that brings about true change! PEOPLE POWER. http://npa-us.org/npa-training-program
We also had a chance to meet with and share ideas and deep dish pizza with some terrific Chicago colleagues! We deeply appreciate your support and solidarity, Kathleen Morris and Jorge Carbajosa!
We are expecting an NLRB update of some kind before the end of this month, August 2016. Special thanks to our IGA legal team and especially to our colleagues that day in and day out field questions, collect data and help with research. It’s because of all of you that we are feeling encouraged and positive. AND WE ARE READY WHATEVER THE OUTCOME. As always, we will need everyone to stay connected and tuned in. https://www.nlrb.gov/case/21-CA-173402?order=ds_activity&sort=asc
SOSi’s CONTRACT RENEWAL
Yes, SOSi has been renewed another year by EOIR/DOJ. As in the past, we continue to be considered independent contractors and are therefore expected to negotiate our contracts individually. We will absolutely stay united. Our community is growing and this continues to be our greatest source of power! If you see someone new, greet them kindly and talk about IGA! And if you can get their email or phone number, that would be extremely helpful in building unity and keeping everybody up to date.
SAVE THE DATE!
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2016
TIME: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
ADDRESS: 1225 TELEGRAPH, SUITE 210, SANTA FE SPRINGS, CA 90670
IGA MEETING AND 6 FREE CIMCE UNITS
This coming Saturday, August 20, 2016, IGA will be hosting a free seminar with 6 CIMCE units for CA Certified colleagues! This is a great opportunity to engage with our greater community of colleagues. After all, the health of our entire profession is crucial in securing the improvements we’ve already made in our different sectors. This will be a potluck and all yummy bites are welcomed! Help us keep count. PLEASE RSVP TO ANGIE: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will only support academic programs that truly support our collective effort. We look forward to visiting other regions soon!
IGA’s lobbying, along with our members’ petitions and letters, are having a positive impact in drawing the attention of the Judicial Council to the Contractor Rate issue.
On October 26, 2015, Angie Birchfield, IGA Unit Chair, and René García had an opportunity to meet with an administrator from the Judicial Council to discuss the Court Contractor Rate in California.
IGA made a presentation outlining the benefits to the courts and issues of fair compensation addressed by substantially raising the Court Contractor Rate.
Eight years ago, the last time this rate was changed, it went up over 40%. Currently the California Court Contractor rate is 48% less than the Federal Contractor rate.
A raise on the order of the one eight years ago is in order.
It is harder for the JC to substantiate the allocation of funds for a higher rate if court executives are finding it relatively easy to hire interpreters willing to work for the current rate.
IGA learned the following in the course of our meeting:
- Court Executives Advisory Committee (CEAC) has taken on the task reviewing the Contractor Rate and plans to address the rate issue at their upcoming meeting in the November 5, 2015.
- Their first step might be to poll the various court executives and see if there are practical issues in scheduling and services provided resulting from the current rate.
- It is harder for the JC and CEAC to substantiate the allocation of funds for a higher rate if court executives are finding it relatively easy to hire interpreters willing to work for the current rate.
We will continue to update the membership as developments arise.