ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 28, 1998

1998.05.28: Executive Committee Statement on Daniel O’Donnell’s State Senate Candidacy

Filed under: 1994 Strike,Funding,Indigent Defense,Political Action,Scabs — nyclaw01 @ 12:00 am

On May 28, 1998, the ALAA Executive Committee voted by 14-0-2 to:

(1) Reaffirm the position consistently held by ALAA that the Giuliani administration’s RFPs for Legal Aid Society funding, bids in response thereto, and the establishment of runaway defenders thereunder, constitute both union-busting and an attack on quality indigent criminal representation*;

(2) Endorse as fully consistent with that position all action that has been taken in ALAA’s name by president Michael Letwin in regard to Daniel O’Donnell’s State Senate candidacy; and

(3) Continue to forcefully advocate the Union’s position on these issues both inside and outside the Society.

The EC will further articulate this position early next week.

——–

*The Unions’ position has been evident in the following:

–On the verge of the first RFP, “[a] joint union-management committee . . . produced a summary briefing paper on why competitive bidding for indigent defense services is bad for New York.” Union Update #37 (Oct. 6, 1995).

–In response to the first RFP, the Unions called for the Society to announce that “it is impermissible for employees of the Legal Aid Society to bid directly for our work, or to otherwise aid, solicit, or in any other way participate in such bids by others.” Union Update #38 (Nov. 11, 1995);

–As the City Council was about to vote on the first round of RFP funding, ALAA called on Council members to “[e]liminate budget funding for the scab RFP groups.” ALAA, Urgent Appeal to City Council Members, DON’T SIDE WITH UNION-BUSTING AGAINST UAW & 1199 IN THE CITY BUDGET (June 12, 1996);

–Characterizing the first runaway shops as “Strikebreakers, P.C.,” the Unions identified known each RFP participant, and specifically emphasized “that [John] Yong is a former ALAA president, that [Alan] Rosenberg is a former ALAA Secretary . . . [and] that most of the other attorneys for the new group are former ALAA members who themselves participated in one or more of those strikes upon which they and the City now seek to justify the need for greater strikebreaker insurance.” Union Update #41 (July 5, 1996).

–After a state court ruling against the Society’s challenge to the RFPs, the Unions reported that among the “New Strikebreaker Recruits” were former Brooklyn CDD ALAA representative Michael Horn and dubbed the runaway defenders as “Scabs R Us.” Union Update #42 (August 1, 1996).

–On July 30, 1996, the ALAA Executive Committee voted unanimously to “[f]ile a federal lawsuit against the City for violating ALAA’s right to strike . . .” and to “[c]reate an ALAA committee of representatives from Brooklyn and Queens CDD and CAB to propose appropriate activities to expose the scab nature of these [RFP] providers.” ALAA EC Bulletin #48 (Sept. 17, 1996). On September 25, 1996, the EC unanimously voted to “[c]ontinue efforts to oppose and expose the scab providers (including ALAA lawsuit and ALAA attendance at the Oct. 12 bar association forum, which includes speakers from the RFPs) . . .” ALAA EC Bulletin #49 (Oct. 21, 1996).

–In Fall 1996, the Unions reported that a Brooklyn “Strikebreaker” RFP attorney had compromised the interests of a criminal defendant. Union Update #43 (Oct. 31, 1996);

–Also in Fall 1996, ALAA asked for and received endorsements by the Center for Constitutional Rights, National Conference of Black Lawyers, National Lawyers Guild and National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee for a resolution that called on “attorneys to withhold any and all aid and comfort to new strikebreaker indigent defense [RFP] agencies.” Resolution on Attacks by Giuliani Administration on The Legal Aid Society (n.d.)

–In early 1997, ALAA informed the board of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers that “independent, high quality indigent defense is entirely incompatible with the political origins and designs of the RFPs: replacement of a strong, unionized, independent institutional defender with small, one-borough, non-union contractors in order to break the Union and weaken the Society’s advocacy on behalf of the poor.” ALAA, Questions & Answers Concerning NACDL Resolution on NYC Legal Aid (April 29, 1997);

–A year later, the Unions explained that “the Giuliani administration’s overriding intent – articulated most specifically by Old Guard Legal Aid managers, many of them subsequently City officials or RFP awardees – has been rollback of key reforms in indigent criminal representation won by ALAA since the early 1970s.” Workers for Justice #2, April 15, 1998.

May 8, 1998

1998.05.08: Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements

Filed under: Collective Bargaining — nyclaw01 @ 7:27 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, May 08, 1998 7:27 PM
To:  LAS All
Subject: Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements
Importance: High

Note:  Staff Attorneys will also receive a hard copy of this memo by mail at their home address (to ensure that you receive mailings, please notify the Union of your current address when you move.)   

Non-Staff Attorneys:  Please forgive any unwanted receipt of Union e-mail.  We are awaiting creation of an address group by MIS.  Until then, we do not have the ability to narrow receipients.

———————————————————————————————

M E M O

To: All Staff Attorneys

Fr: Michael Letwin & George Albro

Re: Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements

Da: May 8, 1998

———————————————————————————————

Following discussions with the ALAA Bargaining Committee, the Society has agreed to the improvements discussed below.

1. Payment/Reimbursement of Bar Registration (OCA) Fees

From now on, The Legal Aid Society will pay biennial bar registration (OCA) fees for Staff Attorneys in all divisions.

 Although deemed a term of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (valued at .25% of Staff Attorney payroll) that goes into effect October 1, 1998, payment will take effect immediately, beginning with Staff Attorneys whose birthdays fall on or after May 1, 1998 (the Union had proposed that payment be retroactive to birthdays on or after October 1, 1997).  By May 1, 2000, therefore, the Society will have paid bar registration fees for all current Staff Attorneys who continue to be employed at Legal Aid.

For Staff Attorneys who submit a Check Request received by the LAS Accounting Office at least 30 days in advance of the registration due date, the Society will make payment directly to OCA.  The Society will reimburse other attorneys upon submission of a Check Request along with a canceled check or other proof of payment.

Both direct payment and reimbursement for bar registration fees constitute non-taxable income with an average taxable equivalent of approximately $450-500.

2. Temporary Comp Time Expansion

Until July 1, CDD Staff Attorneys in the Bronx and Manhattan will receive an additional comp day when they volunteer for extra institutional assignments.  This is an extraordinary and temporary measure designed to carry the Society through the end of the current fiscal year, at which time Society workload will be reassessed in light of our City funding.

In the Bronx, additional comp time will apply to all additional arraignments shifts from which the nonunion Bronx Defenders have unilaterally withdrawn.  Union-management discussions will determine the standard applicable in Manhattan.

More generally, a Union-Management committee established pursuant to the 1994-1998 Collective Bargaining Agreement is currently examining whether and under what circumstances to provide comp time in the other divisions.

3. Travel Reimbursement

In order to ease transportation of Staff Attorneys from night arraignments, the Society will make available the option of pre-paid car service vouchers.

* * *

Please direct any questions you may have about the above changes to Union HQ.

1998.05.08: Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements

From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Friday, May 08, 1998 7:27 PM
Subject: Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements
Importance: High

Note:  Staff Attorneys will also receive a hard copy of this memo by mail at their home address (to ensure that you receive mailings, please notify the Union of your current address when you move.)

Non-Staff Attorneys:  Please forgive any unwanted receipt of Union e-mail.  We are awaiting creation of an address group by MIS.  Until then, we do not have the ability to narrow receipients.
——————————————————————————————————–
M E M O

To:    All Staff Attorneys
Fr:    Michael Letwin & George Albro
Re:    Compensation & Reimbursement Improvements
Da:    May 8, 1998
——————————————————————————————————–
Following discussions with the ALAA Bargaining Committee, the Society has agreed to the improvements discussed below.

1.    Payment/Reimbursement of Bar Registration (OCA) Fees

From now on, The Legal Aid Society will pay biennial bar registration (OCA) fees for Staff Attorneys in all divisions.

Although deemed a term of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (valued at .25% of Staff Attorney payroll) that goes into effect October 1, 1998, payment will take effect immediately, beginning with Staff Attorneys whose birthdays fall on or after May 1, 1998 (the Union had proposed that payment be retroactive to birthdays on or after October 1, 1997).  By May 1, 2000, therefore, the Society will have paid bar registration fees for all current Staff Attorneys who continue to be employed at Legal Aid.

For Staff Attorneys who submit a Check Request received by the LAS Accounting Office at least 30 days in advance of the registration due date, the Society will make payment directly to OCA.  The Society will reimburse other attorneys upon submission of a Check Request along with a canceled check or other proof of payment.
Both direct payment and reimbursement for bar registration fees constitute non-taxable income with an average taxable equivalent of approximately $450-500.

2.     Temporary Comp Time Expansion

Until July 1, CDD Staff Attorneys in the Bronx and Manhattan will receive an additional comp day when they volunteer for extra institutional assignments.  This is an extraordinary and temporary measure designed to carry the Society through the end of the current fiscal year, at which time Society workload will be reassessed in light of our City funding.

In the Bronx, additional comp time will apply to all additional arraignments shifts from which the nonunion Bronx Defenders have unilaterally withdrawn.  Union-management discussions will determine the standard applicable in Manhattan.

More generally, a Union-Management committee established pursuant to the 1994-1998 Collective Bargaining Agreement is currently examining whether and under what circumstances to provide comp time in the other divisions.

3.    Travel Reimbursement

In order to ease transportation of Staff Attorneys from night arraignments, the Society will make available the option of pre-paid car service vouchers.

* * *
Please direct any questions you may have about the above changes to Union HQ.

May 4, 1998

1998.05.04: Please Help Stop Cuts in State Civil Funding

Filed under: Political Action,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 4:23 pm
Tags:

From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Monday, May 04, 1998 10:03 PM
Subject: Please Help Stop Cuts in State Civil Funding

Our Civil Division gets state funding form the legislature to help support our work.  This year the Assembly and Senate passed a budget which included nearly $7 million statewide — with $1.8 of this targeted for our Civil Division.

Governor Pataki has vetoed this funding.

This is unprecedented.  We have never before lost this money and we have to get it back!  PLEASE —- we need your help to restore this cut.  Please note: you have already gotten e-mails and faxes about cuts in our civil and criminal funding and you have been asked to sign a letter on that issue.

This is yet another, different cut.  This is a cut in our CIVIL STATE funding.  Please help us on this one too!

What can you do to help?

Attached is a set of letters you can sign and mail out to elected officials.   There are two different letters — one if for Gov. Pataki and the other is for your state Senator and member of the Assembly.  You can either sign and mail these letters out to your elected officials yourself or we can even send these letters for you!

The League of Women Voters (212-674-8484) can provide the name of your representative.

If you prefer, ALAA will sign your name and send these letters out on your behalf.  All you have to do is:

1.  Reply to this e-mail and tell me it’s ok to send these letters out on your behalf.

2.  Fill out the lines below when you reply to me:

YOUR NAME: ________________________

ADDRESS:

It’s OK to sign my name to the attached letters (yes/no)  _________

It would also be great if you could get family and friends to send out these letters.  We need to make it known that this funding is vital to the survival of Civil legal service programs throughout the state.  Poor New Yorkers deserve access to justice.

If you have questions, or would like to help with this campaign to restore Civil legal services funding, please call Katie Kelleher (ALAA member) (212) 577-3307.  Thank you for your help.
——————————————————————————————————-
DRAFT — SAMPLE

Governor George E. Pataki
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Pataki:

I write to express my deep concern regarding your recent veto of the entire State appropriation of $6.8 million in funding for civil legal services.  Ensuring access to our judicial system is not and should not be a partisan issue.  Indeed, you have approved funding for these very programs every year since y9ou became governor.

Civil legal services programs are vital to the fabric of a just society.  In every county of the State, civil legal services programs serve the most vulnerable New Yorkers by preventing evictions and keeping families together, ensuring that senior citizens have access to health care services, securing access to food assistance programs for hungry children and adults, representing unemployed New Yorkers to secure government benefits, advocating for victims of domestic violence, ensuring that disabled persons receive federal Social Security benefits, and assisting immigrants fleeing oppression.  Civil legal services programs provide the only access to justice for New York’s poorest, most disenfranchised residents.

Civil legal services programs also save State and local government money by preventing evictions and averting the costs of providing emergency shelter, by keeping families together and avoiding expensive foster carte placement of children, and securing federal disability benefits in place of State and local public assistance payments.  A State study has found, for example, that civil legal services save four dollars in averted shelter costs for every dollar of program cost.

Without this $6.8 million State-wide appropriation for civil legal services, civil legal services programs will be devastated.  These programs have already sustained a series of severe cuts.  Federal funds have been cut by 1/3 since 1992 and State funds from the Interest on Lawyers Account (IOLA) Fund have declined by more than ½ since 1992.  If these programs are forced to absorb the loss of this State-wide funding, there will be dramatic decreases in legal services for vulnerable New Yorkers because there will be additional cuts in staff, layoffs, and some offices will be forced to close altogether.

We urge you to restore this $6.8 million in funding for civil legal services.
———————————————————————————————-
Senators Should Be Addressed As Follows:

Hon.
New York State Senate
Albany, New York 12247

Dear Senator                           :

Assemblymembers Should Be Addressed As Follows:

Hon.
New York State Assembly
Albany, New York 12248

Dear Assemblymember:                      :
——————————————————————————————————
Dear                         :

I write to thank you for your support for civil legal services funding in the budget you recently voted to approve.  Unfortunately, this State-wide appropriation which totaled $6.8 million has been vetoed by Governor Pataki.  I urge you take action to restore these critical funds.

Civil legal services programs are vital to the fabric of a just society.  In every county of the State, civil legal services programs serve the most vulnerable New Yorkers by preventing evictions and keeping families together, ensuring that senior citizens have access to health care services, securing access to food assistance programs for hungry children and adults, representing unemployed New Yorkers to secure government benefits, advocating for victims of domestic violence, ensuring that disabled persons receive federal Social Security benefits, and assisting immigrants fleeing oppression.  Civil legal services programs provide the only access to justice for New York’s poorest, most disenfranchised residents.

Without this $6.8 million State-wide appropriation for civil legal services, civil legal services programs will be devastated.  These programs have already sustained a series of severe cuts.  Federal funds have been cut by 1/3 since 1992 and State funds from the Interest on Lawyers Account (IOLA) Fund have declined by more than ½ since 1992.  If these programs are forced to absorb the loss of this State-wide funding, there will be dramatic decreases in legal services for vulnerable New Yorkers because there will be additional cuts in staff, layoffs, and some offices will be forced to close altogether.

Thank you for your leadership and support on this issue in the past.  Please support efforts to restore this funding cut.

May 1, 1998

1998.05.01: Union Bulletin

Filed under: Labor Solidarity,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 4:24 pm
Tags:

From: MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST [mailto:MLetwin@HQWEST.WEST]
Sent: Friday, May 01, 1998 12:52 PM
Subject: Union Bulletin
Importance: High

——————————————————————————

Contents
**Reminder Today, May 1:  Important Labor Rally
**Job Posting: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc.
——————————————————————————

**Reminder

Today, May 1:  Important Labor Rally

An LAS ALAA/1199 delegation (other staff is also welcome) will gather at 5 P.M. this afternoon in the lobby of 90 Church Street in order to join an important cross-Union demonstration demanding:

*Union Wage Jobs
*Organize the Unorganized/No Sweatshops
*Stop Privitization
*Rebuild the Crumbling City Infrastructure
*Save Public Education, Social Security and Health Care and
*Save CUNY Open Admissions

There will be a 3 P.M. picket line at the WEP office, 109 E. 16 St.

The Rally begins 4 P.M. at Union Square South, E. 14 St. at Broadway.  LAS staff will meet at the rally under our Union signs and banners.

Information:  Lucy Herschel, 1199 delegate, Prisoners Rights Project, 212-577-3948.  ALAA members interested in carrying Union banner please call 343-0708 to make arrangements.

* * *

**Job Posting:  New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc.

NYLPI Disability Law Center seeks Staff Attorney to:

(1) engage in litigation and non-litigation advocacy through its five experienced in-house attorneys and its participating private law firms;
(2) work with disability rights lawyers and advocates in New York State and across the nation to develop a strategy for implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws;
(3) provide training to persons with disabilities, advocates and lawyers;
(4) provide back-up legal support to advocates and lawyers across the country; and
(5) foster public awareness of the rights of people with disabilities through written materials and public education.
In addition to undertaking responsibilities for on-going work, the staff attorney will have the opportunity to develop cases in support of NYLPI’s soon-to-be-launched access campaign for persons with disabilities in New York.
Requires 4 years+ litigation experience; disability or other public interest experience desirable.  Strong writing, analytic and public speaking skills essential.  Salary commensurate with experience plus excellent benefits.
Resume and cover letter by June 1, 1998 to: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, 30 W. 21 Street, 9th  Floor, NY, NY 10010 – Attn: hiring.
Persons with disabilities and persons of color are encouraged to apply.

1998.05.01: Union Bulletin

Filed under: Austerity and Budget Cuts,Labor Solidarity,Political Action — nyclaw01 @ 12:52 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, May 01, 1998 12:52 PM
To: LAS All
Subject: Union Bulletin
Importance: High

——————————————————————————

Contents

**Reminder Today, May 1:  Important Labor Rally

**Job Posting: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc.

——————————————————————————

**Reminder

Today, May 1:  Important Labor Rally

An LAS ALAA/1199 delegation (other staff is also welcome) will gather at 5 P.M. this afternoon in the lobby of 90 Church Street in order to join an important cross-Union demonstration demanding:

*Union Wage Jobs

*Organize the Unorganized/No Sweatshops

*Stop Privitization

*Rebuild the Crumbling City Infrastructure

*Save Public Education, Social Security and Health Care and

*Save CUNY Open Admissions

There will be a 3 P.M. picket line at the WEP office, 109 E. 16 St.

The Rally begins 4 P.M. at Union Square South, E. 14 St. at Broadway.  LAS staff will meet at the rally under our Union signs and banners.

Information:  Lucy Herschel, 1199 delegate, Prisoners Rights Project, 212-577-3948.  ALAA members interested in carrying Union banner please call 343-0708 to make arrangements.

* * *

**Job Posting:  New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc.

NYLPI Disability Law Center seeks Staff Attorney to:

(1) engage in litigation and non-litigation advocacy through its five experienced in-house attorneys and its participating private law firms;

(2) work with disability rights lawyers and advocates in New York State and across the nation to develop a strategy for implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws;

(3) provide training to persons with disabilities, advocates and lawyers;

(4) provide back-up legal support to advocates and lawyers across the country; and

(5) foster public awareness of the rights of people with disabilities through written materials and public education.

In addition to undertaking responsibilities for on-going work, the staff attorney will have the opportunity to develop cases in support of NYLPI’s soon-to-be-launched access campaign for persons with disabilities in New York.

Requires 4 years+ litigation experience; disability or other public interest experience desirable.  Strong writing, analytic and public speaking skills essential.  Salary commensurate with experience plus excellent benefits.

Resume and cover letter by June 1, 1998 to: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, 30 W. 21 Street, 9th  Floor, NY, NY 10010 – Attn: hiring.

Persons with disabilities and persons of color are encouraged to apply.

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