California Court Per Diem Rate… IGA still fighting the good fight.
A little over a year ago, IGA (we were still TTIG back then) started a campaign to increase the California Court Per Diem Rate. We drafted a petition and hundreds of independent interpreters across the state signed it.
With this support from our colleagues, we put the issue on the agenda of the Judicial Council (JC) and the Court Executives Advisory Committee (CEAC). However, the JC and CEAC’s deliberative process has been exceedingly slow and even more opaque.
Four months ago IGA directed an open letter to the JC
Then more recently we called upon our colleagues to take up a letter writing campaign
We asked the Judicial Council to raise the State Court Per Diem Rate to match the Federal Court Per Diem Rate without delay. Further, we asked that the same yearly cost of living/CPI increases that exist in Federal Court be applied on an ongoing basis.
Why? Because U.S. District court rates for California State Certified Interpreters are $412 for the full day and $223 for the half-day (www.cacd.uscourts.gov/interpreters#fees). That’s 46% more than California State Courts pay the same interpreters.
Recently, a new petition to raise the per diem rate has gone out among California independents and we at IGA could not be happier that more interpreters are joining in and insisting on fair compensation for independents.
The only objection we have to this current, well argued petition is the one statement:
“While contract interpreters do not expect to receive the same total compensation as an employee, the daily rates should mirror an equitable recognition of the skillful contribution both groups provide the court.”
The reason IGA stands firm on citing the Federal rate as a standard of fair compensation is simple, and here it is as stated in the JC’s own report:
“California employee court interpreters negotiate salaries, benefits, and working conditions regionally. They receive health and retirement benefits that increase the total value of their compensation by 30 to 35 percent. The federal system relies almost exclusively on contract interpreters…”
The JC’s contention is that Interpreter Employees’ compensation is roughly equivalent to the Federal per diem standard. We ask, as independent contractors, that the California per diem rate meet that same standard. So we don’t ask for more that employees, we ask for essential parity.
We hope that all the many interpreters that signed that original petition a year ago, will write the JC in support of raising the per diem rate. We also hope that we can stand firm and united in asking for a raise that is commensurate with the job we perform.
Some colleagues have argued that we will never get it and that asking for parity with the Federal Court rate and thus, fair compensation, is tantamount to ‘beating a dead horse’.
IGA feels strongly that, while staying united and standing our ground, it is our responsibility to strive for fairness, to demand what’s right and to speak truth to power.
We feel that if you don’t ask for equity and argue the essential fairness of your demand, then surely you won’t ever get it.