Court Interpreters Have Their Election Day

After a long and bumpy road, the Cook County Court Interpreters Unit elected Unit Chairs on May 22, 2021.

Mail-in ballots were counted downtown at the office of the American Arbitration Association with members of the Guild’s Election Committee present and candidate’s observers via Zoom.

Congratulations to the winners!

Full-time Chair – Jose Alvarez

Full-time Vice Chair – Sonia Garcia

Sessions Chair – Daisy De La Rosa

Sessions Vice Chair – Yadira Esparza

The Guild looks forward to working with the unit chairs in supporting their members.

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CCCI Unit Chair Election Rescheduled

The Cook County Court Interpreters Unit Chair Election has been rescheduled for May 22, 2021.  All members in good standing are eligible to vote.

The election is being conducted by the American Arbitration Association. New ballots are being mailed out on Monday, April 19, 2021.  

After experiencing problems with the PO Boxes rented by the Guild,  the Election Committee opted to hire the American Arbitration Association to administer the mailing of the ballots and assist the Committee with conducting the count.  This process has caused some delays, but the Election Committee felt this was the best option to ensure a fair and trouble-free election.

Remember to return you’re completed ballot in a timely fashion to ensure its arrival before election day.

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CCCI Unit Chair Election Candidates

The Chicago News Guild Local 34071 is conducting a mail-in ballot election for the offices of Full-time Chair, Full-time Vice Chair, Session Chair and Session Vice Chair in the Cook County Court Interpreters Unit. Election notices and ballots were mailed Saturday, February 27, 2021.

Below are the candidates running for the March 27, 2021 election.

Office: Full-time Chair

Candidate: Jose Alvarez

Candidate: Antonio del Toro

Office: Full-time Vice Chair

Candidate: Sonia Garcia

I have been a Spanish Language Interpreter for the Circuit Courts of Cook County for the past twenty-five years.

Ten of those years I served as a per diem (session) employee and the other fifteen through present, in a full-time position. I understand the many challenges that exist in both per diem and full-time positions and feel that I am more than qualified to represent all interpreters within our union in all matters including contract negotiations. As an officer of the union, I plan to serve as a conduit between our members and management/HR to keep open and productive channels of communication that will benefit all parties.

Another advantage I bring to this role is my familiarity with the position as I served as the full-time Vice Chair in 2020. I plan to leverage the experience I gained last year and build upon that to continue to improve union and management relations. Much of this work has already begun and I would like to have the opportunity to see it through. If given the opportunity to stay in this role, it would continue to allow me to hear and voice all concerns between our members. I would focus my efforts evenly amongst part time, full time, and exotic interpreters to ensure that all concerns are addressed, specifically during contract negotiations. My goal would be to make clear that we stand together as one union pursuing improvements for all.

The past year was extremely challenging as the pandemic brought forth a lot of change to our work environment. I faced those challenges head on and was able to work with union officers, management, and HR to secure our jobs. In the process I was able to assist in negotiating incentive pay for full-time employees that worked onsite.

Furthermore, for per diems and exotic interpreters, we secured their average pay based on the last six months prior to the pandemic. We were also successful in having interpreters work remotely with the ability to go in person on a volunteer basis. This reduced the health risk of members and allowed us to continue to work in a safe environment.

As we move forward, my focus is on representing our union as a whole and will strive to bring forth professional improvements and benefits to all members. I will do all I can to negotiate for a just and fair contract while considering your concerns and safety. I hope that my past hard work is proof of my commitment to you and dedication to this union.

Vote for me.

Office: Session Chair

Candidate: Daisy de la Rosa

I, Daisy de la Rosa, have been a Session Spanish Interpreter for the Circuit Court of Cook County for almost 8 years. I have also been an AOIC registered interpreter since 2016.

I have been part of our union since I started at the County, with an active role as Vice Chair with 2-3 years of experience, and for short time as Chair for the session interpreters. During that time, I worked diligently with union officers, management, and HR in collective bargaining, grievances, mediation and/or arbitrations. My focus during this time was to provide support for fellow coworkers to ensure that their rights were respected and to oversee that there were no violations of the terms of our contract agreement.

I am fully invested in the interests of all interpreters, including session, registered, non-registered, certified, and non-certified. This also includes interpreters who are full-time, sessions, and exotic. We are all one unit.

As your representative, it would be my honor to work for everyone equally and when necessary, individually. Although every situation is unique, you’ll have my undivided attention in addressing your issues. I take pride in my work and understand that our job is our livelihood. I will advocate relentlessly to secure our jobs and will be respectful of your thoughts and opinions. We are living in challenging times and it’s never been more important that we come together as a team for the greater good of all interpreters. I vow to remain impartial yet fair when it comes to negotiating our contract, including wages, safety, and equal treatment.

I will be available to answer questions and will swiftly address any concerns about your rights under the union contract. Please know that if I don’t have the answer at that moment, I will investigate further and provide a prompt response. I am a very trustworthy, organized, hardworking individual and look forward to the opportunity of representing you in our union.

Vote for Daisy!

Candidate: Marco Rivas

Office: Session Vice Chair

Candidate: Yadira Esparza

“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” -Walt Disney

Yadira Esparza, is a session court interpreter and has been with the Interpreter’s office for almost 8 years.  For the last two years, she has been part of the union officers’ committee.  Her first year with the union was as the secretary and this past year as one of the sessions co-chair and secretary.  She has attended to the union’s many trainings to better serve as an officer to represent all union members fairly, honestly and obtain what is better for all members.  This past year as one of the co-chairs was able to achieve an agreement with the employer for all session interpreters during these hard times with the pandemic.  She wants all members to be treated equal and fair.  Yadira has worked in a couple different fields and has always achieved to be promoted because of her hard work, dedication and honesty.  She is involved in her community’s church and volunteers with the administrative part of the Religious Education Program.  Yadira works hard for what she believes and is fair and respectful to everyone.

Candidate: Kathleen Morris

As an experienced officer and contract negotiator, and a founder of our union, I bring to the table a deep knowledge base , as well as the experience, organizational skills, and motivation to fairly represent sessions’ and staff interpreters’ best professional interests.  Along with my fellow officers, I dedicated many hours to steering contract negotiations through a challenging pandemic period, resulting in a guaranteed 6-month average salary for all sessions interpreters for several months in 2020.  One of my main objectives will be to stay in close touch with all colleagues, and to hear and respond to your professional questions, opinions, and concerns in a timely manner.
If re-elected, I pledge to work tirelessly towards ensuring a safer work environment for in-person hearings, as well as fair and progressive pay and work conditions for my fellow interpreters of all working languages.  I will actively work towards establishing higher professional standards of practice.  I pledge to negotiate to ensure professional respect for certified and non-certified colleagues alike.  My overriding goal, if elected as your representative, will be to help ensure a much improved work environment for interpreters in 2021, and beyond.

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Welcome SEIU Local 73 Staff

The Chicago News Guild is proud to announce the addition of the staff union at SEIU Local 73 to its family. Members voted 36 to 4 to affiliate with the Guild. We look forward to working with SEIU Local 73 Staff to strengthen their position at the bargaining table and add muscle to contract enforcement. Thanks to everyone who worked to make this happen.

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From The News Guild President Jon Schleuss

These last few days have been dark for our country. Today I released a statement condemning the attacks against journalists and anyone peacefully protesting. You can read that in full here. Please share it with our members. 
Last night we had an emergency call with local officers and unit leaders addressing how to respond to the targeting of journalists by police across the country. 

Several good ideas were shared:

  • Reach out to local AFL-CIOs and CLCs and ask them to condemn the police violence against protesters and journalists just doing their job.
  • For those covering protests, push employers to provide protective equipment — and be wary of overdressing in a way that could make you the target. Bicycle helmets and goggles are helpful in protests, but don’t draw a lot of attention.
  • Be sure to communicate with police and activists and tell them that journalists are just doing their jobs and should not be attacked.
  • Reach out to the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and others to do training and find ways to support each other’s mental health during this pandemic and protests.
  • Provide a safe space, even if on Zoom, to support colleagues, especially our Black colleagues, and start a dialogue.

We’ve signed onto a letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is soon being sent to officials in Minnesota. It provides helpful information about our rights and the potential legal liability of officers interfering with the right of journalists to report on the news. RCFP separately has a guide to covering protests and a tip sheet on protecting yourself while covering a protest. 

Please take time to check in with your members and colleagues, especially our Black members. We need solidarity more than ever right now. And be safe as you work to inform our communities.

In solidarity,


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Essential Workers Provide Essential News

 I was on edge this weekend as I watched the steady stream of updates from the streets of Chicago and the suburbs from the tireless, dedicated journalists of the Chicago News Guild. If, like me, you saw or read something in the news about the chaos in our community this week that shocked, pained, outraged or moved you, remember that a reporter or photographer put themselves at risk to show you what was happening on the streets.
> Whether you are hunkered down in your home or out in the streets yourself, we owe a debt to journalists who are documenting and providing context to events even as they unfold. Journalists know that scenes like the ones we all have seen this week cannot be reported on from a “safe” distance, nor do they expect their safety to be prioritized above anyone else at the scene of a mass protest. But it was disheartening to me to see instances in other cities where police appeared to single out news reporters and photographers who were only trying to do their jobs.
> It was also sad to see Tribune Guild members tweeting that they were being sidelined by furloughs in the midst of a huge, breaking news story sweeping across our area. Again, the courageous reporters and photographers in the CT Guild only want to do their jobs, and Tribune Publishing should end their furloughs immediately and invest in coverage a historic moment. Now, more than ever, we are depend on the work of journalists. Let them do their work. Be safe, NewsGuild.

Grace Catania President Chicago News Guild Local 34071

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In Loving Memory

Albert Dickens
Albert Dickens

Members of Chicago Newspaper Guild Local 34071:

It is with great sadness that I report the death of former activist of the Chicago News Guild and member of the Guild’s Executive Board,  Albert Dickens of the Chicago Sun­-Times.

Albert, who died May 10, 2020, at age 82, began his tenure with the Sun­Times in 1978, joining the paper after the Chicago Daily News folded. Between the two papers, he amassed more than 49 years of service. He officially retired in September 2019 because of the effects of a stroke suffered in March 2019.

A staple in the newsroom, Albert served as the editorial assistant for the Sports Department but was known throughout the company. A dapper dresser with a friendly personality, Albert lit up the newsroom both with his appearance and his presence. But it was his vast wealth of knowledge and meticulous attention to his work that were most impressive. Efficient and professional, he handled everything from filling out expense forms to making travel arrangements for reporters to solving payroll crises. He was the glue that held the department together.

He didn’t stop there, however. Albert was revered by all whose path he crossed. Helpful and friendly, he was a beacon of light in a newsroom in which the day-­to-­day grind sometimes was bleak. Versed on seemingly every subject and fluent in more than five languages, Albert could hold a conversation with everyone from the printers to the executives of the paper. He even conversed in Polish with the maintenance staff — not bad for a guy from a small town in Iowa.

A true renaissance man, Albert loved opera, theater, literature and classical music. He also dabbled in art. Did I say dabbled? He was an accomplished artist who loved working in watercolors and enjoyed sketching. Albert will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.

Services were held May 14, 2020.

Denise O’Neal

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Covid-19 Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone in some way, and thousands of people directly. We know that includes members of our own News Guild local. People may be under economic stress from business furloughs and layoffs (including those who need help navigating unemployment or other sources of emergency funding.) They may need personal help – social, emotional, or just a friendly ear. 

We want to help. As a start, we’ve created a page where we hope to gather information on and links to resources: As this emergency continues we will try to update and broaden it. We invite members to check it out.

If you know of resources, and want to help us provide support for fellow Guild members, you can contact Kathy Routliffe at or 773-759-5988. We will add more contacts soon. Thank you all, and stay safe. 

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The News Guild 9-Point Plan

Monday night, the Chicago News Guild Executive Committee— with representatives from the Sun-Times, The Reader, Pioneer Press, and non-newspaper units we represent—  voted unanimously to support TNG’s effort, and our local staff and member volunteers, like Local President Grace Catania, will be involved in promoting legislation to support newspapers in Illinois and across the US. No individual member will be asked to do anything that would violate the terms of our contract, employee handbooks or journalistic ethics.

The NewsGuild-CWA has started a petition to make Members of Congress aware of the battle that we are fighting to keep journalism essential during this pandemic. We seek to include the journalism industry in the next stimulus package. We need your help supporting this initiative! Please click the link below to sign and share the petition.

Below is a draft of the union’s demands:  

1. Acknowledgement that accurate, reliable local, regional and national journalism is an essential service that provides life-saving information in this crisis.

2. Public financing for local journalism: the federal government should establish a publicly financed fund to support newsrooms and media workers to prevent layoffs.

Such a fund would also serve to promote local journalism in news deserts in all 50 states and territories to supplement or fund additional positions in private-sector news organizations, but not be used to replace existing employees. This fund would also support independent reporting in partnership with other news organizations.

The fund should be regulated to ensure news organizations remain independent and workers should be involved in any such public funding mechanism.

3. Any employer taking public funds must:

  • ●  Remain independent from partisan influence
  • ●  Demonstrate financial need and report on how they used the funding later on.
  • ●  Be prohibited from using public money for executive bonuses, dividends or stock
    buybacks for five years. Any company taking public funds may not allow executive bonuses, stock options, or golden parachutes for five years. Executive compensation should be capped at twice that of the editor in chief.
  • ●  Be prohibited for five years from engaging in mergers and acquisition activity or leveraged buyouts that result in job losses or pay reductions.

● Adhere to the terms of public financing or be subject to a claw back of any public funds, including interest and penalties.

4. No layoffs, no furloughs, no buyouts or pay cuts: In this crisis, it’s essential that we invest in and retain journalists and other media workers, especially in local communities where Americans need to know when schools and businesses are open, where testing centers are and what the current case and death totals are. The financialization of the industry has reduced the number of journalists available to share life-saving information during this crisis. This cannot be allowed to continue.

5. Workers’ rights must be recognized and supported: Any employer taking public funds must not interfere with union organizing campaigns and should be prohibited from hiring anti-union consultants for the purposes of quashing worker organizing drives. These employers should be barred from forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings on work time. Employers should be required to accept third-party voluntary recognition if a majority of the bargaining unit signs authorization cards.

Any employer taking public funds should be required to agree to interest arbitration for first contracts for newly organized units. Further, any employer taking public funds (and any successors) will not abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements, as well as tentative agreements and expired CBAs, in whole or in part, for at least five years after receiving public funding, or two years after completing repayment of any loan. Any employer negotiating a first or successor collective bargaining agreement shall remain committed to bargaining in good faith to quickly reach an agreement.

6. Promote diversity and equity

In the interest of supporting and advancing diversity, any employer taking public funds should be required to implement plans intended to advance diversity across their staff and report their annual diversity statistics.

7. Board seats for employees

Any employer owned by public corporations or private equity firms taking public funds should be required to designate one quarter of Board seats to be held by non-management employees, who will be selected by mutual agreement between labor and management.

8. Loans for non-profit startups

The Small Business Administration should make available an indefinite program of no-interest loans for the creation of news start-ups, including nonprofits and employee-owned co-ops.

9. Any plan must further assist the news industry by:

  • ●  Making tax-deductible the cost of subscriptions for any news product.
  • ●  Providing incentives for local ownership to encourage chains to sell to local owners and
    community interests.
  • ●  Establishing a nationwide advertising purchasing program to promote public health,
    participation in the federal census and other topics of national interest.
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