By Grace Catania
Recently the Chicago Newspaper Guild and the Cook County Interpreters’ Office began discussing the issue of higher pay for certified court interpreters. A certified interpreter is one who has taken and passed an examination administered by a recognized authority. Some Cook County interpreters are certified and others are willing to seek certification. The Guild has moved forward using certification as a means of obtaining recognition and pay grade increases.
If in fact Cook County agrees to a certification program, it has already agreed that certification obtained through the organization “Consortium for Language Access in the Courts” will be recognized by the Circuit Court. Cook County is also seriously considering federal certification.
There are other certification organizations including NAJIT, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Recognition of other organizations has been tabled for now even though NAJIT is accepted by other National Center for State Court member states.
The Guild has proposed to increase full-time court interpreters one whole grade in their current step. So for example, an interpreter with ten years service at Grade 15 would increase to Grade 16 in the same step. For session interpreters, the Guild has proposed a $35 per hour rate while maintaining the four hour minimum in the morning and a three hour minimum in the afternoon.
County negotiators have also agreed to discuss how certification translates into a realistic goal for interpreters with the tangible benefit of improving professionalism and career advancement. The Guild and Cook County are scheduled to next meet on this issue on Friday, September 21, 2012.