State labor board charges Fresno Courts with illegal imposition

FRESNO— The state labor board has charged Fresno County Superior Court with illegally imposing a “word count” standard for court reporters.

The standard, along with a set of rules to limit what counts as a word, would have slashed the pay of court reporters by 30 percent without lessening their workload.

“We haven’t received an increase in our transcript rates in 22 years, and then they wanted to cut our pay by 30 percent,” said Doreen Perkins, a court reporter for Fresno County Superior Court.

In addition, the court would have nickeled and dimed court reporters by refusing to pay for legally required words such as line numbers, page numbers, and certification pages, and by counting hyphenated phrases, such as “18-year-old,” as a single word, Perkins said.

The charges filed by the state Public Employment Relations Board noted that the court imposed the standard without meeting its legal obligation to confer with its workers.

The move by the court was so egregious that legislators and the governor overturned it in this week’s budget trailer bill. The bill freezes word count standards as of Jan. 1, 2012, rolling back anything adopted since. Fresno Courts announced its decision in March.

Court reporters are paid at a “folio” rate, which has been in place for decades.

“This isn’t a raise, this is just keeping us at status quo,” Perkins noted. “This is a big win for court reporters.

 

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visitwww.seiu521.org

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