The Court Interpreters represented by the Chicago News Guild ratified a new collective bargaining agreement 32-4 last week. The new agreement gives the approximately 95 members in the bargaining unit a 10.5% wage increase over the five year term of the contract, which ends on November 30, 2017. However, court interpreters and all other Cook County employees will be required to make an additional .5% increase to health care beginning on December 1, 2015 and another .5% increase on December 1, 2016.
For certified full-interpreters, they will receive a grade increase, which amounts to another 5-10% increase on top of the 10.5% wage increase. For the existing certified session interpreters, they will receive an hourly rate of $33.50 per hour in addition to the 10.5% wage increase. Certified session interpreters will also have priority of assignments over all the other session interpreters. If no certified session court interpreters are available, then all registered session court interpreters will have priority over all the other session court interpreters.
This is the first time that Cook County has recognized the skills of certified court interpreters. Cook County, the second largest court system in the U.S. after L.A. County, now joins all other major jurisdictions in paying certified court interpreters a higher rate of pay.
The contract also requires the Guild and Chief Judge to discuss compensation for any other additional session interpreters who become certified by August 31, 2016. The parties must also discuss a higher compensation grade for full-time interpreters who have twenty or more years of service.
“I would like to thank our bargaining committee for all of their hard work. Special thanks to Unit Chair Grace Catania whose exemplary leadership made it possible for our members to achieve such a good contract,” commented the Guild’s Executive Director Craig Rosenbaum.
The Guild also owes much gratitude to Commissioner Jesus Garcia whose unyielding support made this contract possible. Rosenbaum said, “Without the support of Commissioner Garcia, we would never have achieved this contract. I also would like to thank the Chicago Federation of Labor and Jobs With Justice who circulated our petition throughout the immigrant rights community.”