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October 27, 1992

1992.10.27: Presentation to Legal Aid Society Annual Meeting

Presentation to The Legal Aid Society’s Annual Meeting
Michael Letwin
President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys
October 27, 1992

As you know, the entire Society has experienced tremendous tension and strain in recent months as support staff and attorneys have worked together to achieve fair collective bargaining agreements. Central issues in negotiations include fair wages, decent health benefits, more aggressive affirmative action, the right to healthy and safe working conditions, retention of senior attorneys, and equal benefits for lesbian and gay attorneys.

While we are far from satisfied with the outcome of the contract on many of these issues, we are pleased that this was the first contract in Legal Aid history that was settled at the point of expiration, through a process that brought attorneys and support staff alike into active involvement in the negotiating process.

We were also pleased to have developed a relationship of communication and mutual respect with Board President Michael Iovenko.

Although the failure to fully address any of these issues threatens the quality of representation we are able to provide to indigent clients, our members wish to make you aware that no single issue does so more clearly today than the plague of Tuberculosis.

For many years TB, a low-profile disease of poor people, was ignored by the authorities. The result has been the development of a potentially life-threatening drug-resistant strain affecting hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are our clients.

Among the most serious TB infection points are the court pens, jails, homeless shelters and other facilities in which we work. This is so not only because of the high rate of infection among our clients, who are not medically screened before we see them, but also because the physical conditions in these facilities are crowded, unventilated and altogether inhumane in nearly every other way. Our often filthy and unventilated offices make conditions there little better.

These conditions pose a direct threat not only to we who are the front line — and many of us have tested positive for TB exposure — but even more so to our clients. The Association, therefore, will pursue immediate, dramatic, and effective action at all levels to address this issue, and we ask you to join us in doing so.

Finally, it is with satisfaction that we are here to witness bestowal of the Orison Marden on our colleague, friend and brother Akil Al-Jundi.

Akil represents the best in the Legal Aid tradition. He is a veteran of the historic 1971 Attica Rebellion, where inmates issued the declaration to the world that they were “men and not beasts,” to which the State of New York responded by killing 43 inmates and guards.

In his sixteen years at the Society, Akil has displayed a tremendous commitment to our clients, in whose interest he has employed his wide range of skills.

As senior Local 1199 delegate, Akil has been an ardent advocate for his members, and a key figure in building the deepening alliance between Local 1199 and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, an alliance, the clearest result of which was our first joint strike action, held on July 15 of this year.

We are convinced that this stronger relationship between attorneys and support staff produced not only greater results for all staff at the bargaining table, but that it also improved working relations in the office, where our two memberships work together daily on behalf of indigent clients.

We congratulate Akil and hope to work with him for many years to come.

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1992.10.27: Michael Letwin’s Speech at LAS Annual Meeting

Filed under: 1199 Alliance,ALAA History,Collective Bargaining,Key Documents — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

1992.10.27 Letwin ALAA speech to LAS annual meeting — OCR

Michael Letwin’s Speech at LAS Annual Meeting, 10/27/92

As you know, the entire Society has experienced tremendous tension

and strain in recent months as support staff and attorneys have worked

together to achieve fair collective bargaining agreements. Central issues

in negotiations include fair wages, decent health benefits, more aggressive

affirmative action, the right to healthy and safe working conditions,

retention of senior attorneys, and equal benefits for lesbian and gay

attorneys.

While we are far from satisfied with the outcome of the contract on

many of these issues, we are pleased that this was the first contract in Legal

Aid history that was settled at the point of expiration, through a process

which brought attorneys and support staff alike into active involvement in

2

the negotiating process.

We were also pleased to have developed a relationship of

communication and mutual respect with Board President Michael Iovenko.

Although the failure to fully address any of these issues threatens the

quality of representation we are able to provide to indigent clients, our

members wish to make you aware that no single issue does so more clearly

today than the plague of Tuberculosis.

For many years TB, a low-profile disease of poor people, was

ignored by the authorities. The result has been the development of a

potentially life-threatening drug-resistant strain affecting hundreds of

thousands of people, many of whom are our clients.

3

Among the most serious TB infection points are the court pens, jails,

homeless shelters and other facilities in which we work. This is so not

only because of the high rate of infection among our clients, who are not

medically screened before we see them, but also because the physical

conditions in these facilities are crowded, unventilated and altogether

inhumane in nearly every other way. Our often filthy and unventilated

offices make conditions there little better.

These conditions pose a direct threat not only to we who are the front

line — and many of us have tested positive for TB exposure — but even

more so to our clients. The Association, therefore, will pursue immediate,

dramatic, and effective action at all levels to address this issue, and we ask

4

you to join us in doing so.

Finally, it is with satisfaction that we are here to witness bestowal of

the Orison Marden on our colleague, friend and brother Akil Al-Jundi.

Akil represents the best in the Legal Aid tradition. He is a veteran

of the historic 1971 Attica Rebellion, where inmates issued the declaration

to the world that they were “men and not beasts,” to which the State of

New York responded by killing 43 inmates and guards.

In his sixteen years at the Society, Akil has displayed a tremendous

commitment to our clients, in whose interest he has employed his wide

range of skills.

As senior Local 1199 delegate, Akil has been an ardent advocate for

5

his members, and a key figure in building the deepening alliance between

Local 1199 and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, an alliance, the

clearest result of which was our first joint strike action, held on July 15th

of this year.

We are convinced that this stronger relationship between attorneys

and support staff produced not only greater results for all staff at the

bargaining table, but that it also improved working relations in the office,

where our two memberships work together daily on behalf of indigent

clients.

We congratulate Akil and hope to work with him for many years to

come.

October 5, 1992

1992.10.05: 1992 Bargaining Report #14

1992.10.05- Bargaining Report #14- Membership Ratifies First On-Time Contract (ALAA) — OCR

Officers/Delegates: Please Copy & Distribute Immediately to All ALAA & 1199 Members

1992 Bargaining Report #14 – October 5, 1992 ·@·65

The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys • District 65 • UA W • AFL-CIO

13 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003-6980 • (212)674-4188 • FAX: (212) 475-6091

Membership Ratifies First On-Time Contract

Record Turn-Out for October 1st Meeting

On Thursday, October 1st, by a vote of 536-268, the membership ratified the terms of the new contract.

The vote followed lengthy debate over whether to accept the contract or strike effective Thursday at

Midnight.

The settlement concluded a successfully-executed contract campaign begun in May and culminating

with the October 1st “No Contract, No Work” deadline, during which ALAA members stood firmly with

each other and with Local1199 support staff who recently settled their own contract. The campaign and its

results will be analyzed further in coming weeks.

The Bargaining Committee wishes to express its deep-felt thanks to all members for this support

throughout negotiations.

Settlement Summary

While awaiting formal contract language, please call the Union if you need clarification on the

following summary of the main elements of the contract.

Salaries

• First Year. Average salary increase of 4.75% (as shown on management’s final wage chart), an

amount which will increase if, as is anticipated, assistant district attorneys receive raises in coming months.

• Second Year. Raises tied to those received by assistant district attorneys and increases in the

differential between steps 10-11, 11-12, and 12-13 to $1,000, $1,000 and $2,500 respectively.

• Delay in Step One. The transition from Law Graduate to Step One will now take effect upon bar

admission, rather than bar passage.

Health Benefits

Under both the GHI and modified CIGNA options, management will guarantee the benefits level

for the life of the contract. During October, the membership will make a group choice between the two types

of health insurance, during which time management will maintain the existing CIGNA health plan as is.

• GHI. Management will pay up to $340 per member/per month to fund the plan as envisioned by

the Union.

• CIGNA. A modified version of the existing plan. For those choosing indemnity coverage (i.e. to

see your own doctor): deductibles of $250/$500 individuals and families respectively, stop-loss of $5,000,

15%/30% premium contributions for individuals and families respectively (limited to initial dollar amount

during the first year, and by management’s agreement to absorb the first $200,000 in the second year), drug

card increase to $10 and $12 for generic and brand name drugs respectively, and a possible change to managed

mental health care. HMO options without premium contributions will be made available for those who wish

to elect for them annually.

1992 Bargaining Report # 14

Page2of2

• Domestic Partner Coverage. Health insurance coverage for the domestic partners of lesbian and

gay attorney, when such coverage becomes available.

• Elimination of Jointly-Trusteed Health Fund and Fund Broker.

• Restriction on Continued Coverage for those who Resign.

• Resolution of Dependent Coverage. Comparability determination will take into account spousal

contributions to other coverage.

Affirmative Action

• Diversity training for all attorneys, based on consultation with Joint Affirmative Action Task Force;

• Provision of greater information to Task Force.

Tuberculosis

Management must take all reasonable steps to protect clients and staff from exposure to tuberculosis,

including:

• Twice annual PPD testing and follow-up procedures;

• Masks and mask training;

• General TB training;

• Safe rooms in offices to conduct safe interviews with infected clients;

• Steps to ensure TB testing and treatment for clients;

• Reimbursement of out of pocket medical expenses for treatment of staff for TB under CIGNA,

and subject to discussion if GHI is chosen;

• Consideration of exemption from normal work of those with compromised immune systems.

Conditions of Ratification

Following the initial ratification vote, the entire membership further voted to reconsider acceptance

if management reneges on any material term of the agreement, or if management retaliates against any

member for Union action taken prior to the settlement.

Choosing Health Insurance

This week Union representatives will meet with City officials to discuss the viability of the GHI health

plan option. As soon as the GHI option becomes clearer, the Executive Committee will exercise the

discretion granted by the membership meeting to call a membership meeting or office balloting on which

health option to choose.

As we attempt to finalize the details of the GHI proposal, it would be helpful if members would

systematically submit their questions or concerns about the plan by sending your written questions or concerns to

the Union office during the week of October 5th. Once the details of the proposal are finalized, there will be

an additional opportunJty to ask questions or voice concern..s about the plan.

One-Day Strike Pay Checks

Most members have received their check for the July 15th one-day strike. This is a final call delegates

to submit the names of members who have not yet received their checks.

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