Wednesday, September 5, 2007

This strike is about equity, fairness*

Salary increases have already been allocated; the money is in the county budget. Yet California court interpreters had to take to the streets today in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, left with no choice but to strike in protest of their low wages. The 400+ interpreters have been negotiating over pay issues since May.

"Interpreters have only had two cost-of-living increases in eight years," said Silvia Barden, who heads the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI). "We're excluded from the salary step system other employees have that provides regular increases based on years of service."

The CFI, affiliated with our parent union Communications Workers of America, seeks salary standards similar to those of thousands of other court employees.

The pay disparity has caused problems with retaining qualified interpreters. "The population we serve includes the most victimized people in society and our services open the doors of justice for them to make their cases in the courts," said Barden.

Union members' decision to strike is a painful one and almost always the least popular action workers will take to get a fair contract. A strike requires careful consideration, strategic planning, unity in execution and tremendous sacrifice.

The California interpreters are absolutely united in their fight for equity and fairness. We hope they are back to work and the bargaining table very, very soon.

* UPDATE: Workers at L.A County courthouses pledge to stay out indefinitely. Widespread disruption of legal system results. LAT (end of post)

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