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  Public Employee Press

PEP Oct 2014
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Union pressure leads to hiring of court interpreters

After a hard fought two-year battle, Local 1070 reached a greivance settlement with the state Office of Court Administration that appoints per diem Interpreters and reinstates Spanish speaking Interpreters who were on a preferred list.

"The settlement creates eight permanent positions and two new promotional lines for our Interpreters in New York City courts," said Local 1070 Vice President Fausto Sabatino.

"We held strong and we were successful in settling the case by having a number of per diem Interpreters appointed to full-time lines while also returning the Interpreters on the preferred list."

In 2011, OCA implemented a work reduction plan that cut 99 Local 1070 jobs - including five permanent Spanish speaking Court Interpreters. "The courts were spending $2 million a year on per diems to do the work of our laid-off members," said DC 37 White Collar Division Assistant Director Chris Wilgenkamp. "Fausto Sabatino came to me and we investigated this under the 2003 active per diem Interpreter agreement between Local 1070 and OCA."

"OCA's excessive use of per diem Interpreters did not go unnoticed," said Sabatino. "We were outraged that our members were being displaced and that OCA was using per diems but not appointing them as called for in the agreement."

DC 37 Assistant General Counsel Erica Gray-Nelson filed an improper practice charge with the state Public Employment Relations Board, and the judge convinced OCA to hand over the facts on its per diem usage. With that information, Local 1070 filed a grievance charging OCA with violating the 2003 agreement.

When an arbitrator indicated that he would side with the union, OCA agreed to settle. Wilgenkamp said, "We fought hard to force OCA to comply with the agreement to appoint qualified per diem Interpreters and bring back our laid-off members."

As part of the settlement, OCA agreed that if it needed to hire Interpreters of certain languages, additional per diems on a special consideration list would be offered the positions first. Interpreters of any language covered by the civil service system will be considered for hiring when they are reached on the list, Wilgenkamp said.

"Once again the determined efforts of all of us at the local, the reps and leaders working on behalf of the members, resulted in a successful outcome," said Local 1070 President Cliff Koppelman.

— Diane S. Williams

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