ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 25, 1999

1999.05.25: ALAA Bylaws

Filed under: Union Democracy and Structure — nyclaw01 @ 12:55 pm


Bylaws of The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, Local Union 2325 of The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace And Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), AFL-CIO
Ratified by the Membership on May 25, 1999
Article I: Name
The name of this union will be The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA), Local Union 2325 of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), AFL-CIO.

Article II: Constitution
The Constitution of this union will be the Constitution of the International Union, UAW.

Article III: Principles and Purposes
It will be the purpose of this union to:
●Organize and unite into the union all staff attorneys of The Legal Aid Society;
●Improve the working conditions, treatment, wages, benefits and professional standing of staff attorneys of The Legal Aid Society and protect all staff attorneys from illegal, improper, arbitrary or discriminatory treatment;
●Ensure the provision of high-quality legal services to our clients and advocate for the improvement of these services within the Society and in other appropriate arenas;
●Advocate for the advancement of the interests of our clients and of poor and working people in general through political and legislative outreach;
●Maintain relations with other labor organizations and work cooperatively with other unions for the advancement of the interests of our members, our clients and of poor and working people; and
●Educate our members in the history of the labor movement and develop and maintain an informed and dignified membership in the ranks of organized labor.

Article IV: Membership
§ 1. Principle and Authority. Since the union seeks to benefit the members and thrives by virtue of their support, the membership will be the highest authority within the union. It alone will have the authority to determine all critical issues. These include to: ratify contracts, strike, return to work, set dues, and elect Officers and Delegates to UAW Conventions.
§ 2. Eligibility. Membership will be open to all employees of the bargaining unit(s) currently represented by the union and to those employees of other units who subsequently agree to the union’s representation.

§ 3. Good Standing. Members who have paid all dues and other financial obligations will be members in good standing, unless suspended or expelled from membership as specified in Article 31 of the Constitution. Members on leave or layoff will remain in good standing so long as they have paid all dues and other financial obligations established by the union unless suspended or expelled from membership as specified in Article 31 of the Constitution. Members in good standing will be entitled to the benefits of membership, including voting and participating in the union’s affairs.
§ 4. Termination. Membership in the union will be terminated under any of the following circumstances: (1) Final termination of employment within the bargaining unit; (2) Acceptance of a managerial position; provided, that acceptance of a Delegate Council (DC)-approved temporary management position of three months or less will result in an approved leave status during such period; (3) Expulsion by decision of the Trial Committee pursuant to Article 31 of the Constitution; or (4) Resignation pursuant to the procedures set forth in Article 6, § 17 of the Constitution.
§ 5. Reinstatement. Any member who has resigned, or been suspended or expelled, from the union and who seeks to rejoin or to become a member in good standing will pay a reinstatement fee established by the union.
§ 6. Meetings.
§ 6.1. Frequency. The membership will meet at least monthly in each of the offices where employed. There will be a citywide membership meeting at least thirty (30) days prior to Officer and Executive Board (EB) elections, at which nominations for such offices will be accepted and a candidates’ forum held. At other times, the membership will meet citywide upon the (1) call of the President; (2) majority vote of the EB or the DC; or (3), petition of twenty-five percent (25%) of the membership.
§ 6.2. Quorum. A quorum at any membership meeting will consist of twenty-five percent (25%) of the members in good standing as of the October 1 prior to the meeting, rounded down to the nearest multiple of ten (10). If applicable, absentee ballots, as permitted by the EB or the DC, can be counted toward establishing a quorum.
§ 7. Voting. Except for the election of Officers and Delegates, which requires in-person voting at designated offices or polling place(s) (see Article VIII), and votes to strike or call off a strike, which will occur at a membership meeting, the membership may vote by mail, at a citywide or other appropriate meeting, or in person at a designated office or polling place(s), as determined by the EB or DC. Provision for absentee ballots for membership votes may be made by the EB or DC to the extent that it is consistent with the Constitution Art. 19, § 3; Art. 38, § 10; or Art. 50, § 1(b).

Article V: Delegates Council
§ 1. Authority. The DC will be the highest authority in the union after the membership. Among other powers, it will elect the at-large (non-Officer) members of the EB, three pension Trustees, the Election Committee and three union Trustees from among the Vice-Presidents. No grievance will be arbitrated without its approval.
§ 2. Composition. The DC will consist of: (1) Delegates elected by members of each work site (complexes in the Criminal Defense Division (CDD), offices in the Juvenile Rights Division (JRD) proper and the Civil Division, units in the Criminal Appeals Bureau (CAB) proper (Parole Revocation Defense Unit (PRDU), Prisoners Rights Project (PRP), etc.), according to the following formula: one (1) Delegate per every ten (10) members, rounded up to the nearest multiple of ten (10), with each office, unit and complex entitled to at least one (1) Delegate; and (2) All Officers. There will be a reapportionment every October 1 for the purposes of establishing the number of Delegates to which each office, unit and complex is entitled.
§ 3. Meetings. The DC will meet citywide at least every two (2) months, and at other times as scheduled by the President, the EB or itself. Delegates from each office, unit and complex will meet at least monthly. A quorum consists of twenty percent (20%) of the total number of Delegate positions allocated, regardless of whether they are filled.
§ 4. Voting. Each Delegate is entitled to one (1) vote. The members of each office, unit and complex may elect up to three (3) ranked alternates, who may vote only if the Delegate is absent at a DC or office, unit or complex Delegates meeting. Officers, other than the President, will be entitled to vote as if they were Delegates. The President may vote only when the DC is equally divided and the President is presiding. If an Officer other than the President is presiding, that Officer will only have a right to vote when the DC is equally divided.

Article VI: Executive Board
§ 1. Authority. The EB will be empowered to represent the union between meetings of the union when urgent business requires prompt and decisive action. The EB will also serve as the union’s Bargaining Committee.
§ 2. Composition. The EB will be composed of the following Executive Officers: (1) President;
(2) Financial Secretary-Treasurer;
(3) Recording Secretary;
(4) Vice-President for the Civil Division;
(5) Vice-President for the Criminal Appeals Bureau, Capital Defense Unit and Federal Defender Division;
(6) Vice-President for the Criminal Defense Division/Brooklyn;
(7) Vice-President for the Criminal Defense Division/Bronx;
(8) Vice-President for the Criminal Defense Division/ Manhattan;
(9) Vice-President for the Criminal Defense Division/Queens;
(10) Vice-President for the Juvenile Rights Division; and
(11) Vice-President for the Volunteer Division/Community Law Offices.
The EB will also include seven (7) at-large members representing the following areas: (1) Senior Attorneys;
(2) Junior Attorneys;
(3) Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA);
(4) Gay and Lesbian Attorneys;
(5) Affirmative Action;
(6) Health Benefits; and
(7) Health and Safety.
Except for the Health Benefits and Health and Safety representatives, the at-large EB members will be responsible for calling regular ongoing meetings of the caucus or committee s/he represents and for arranging advance notice of such meetings to the membership.
§ 3. Election. The President, Financial Secretary-Treasurer, and the Recording Secretary will be elected by the entire membership; the Vice-Presidents by their respective constituencies; and the at-large representatives by the DC.
§ 4. Meetings. The EB will meet at least monthly, except during August. The Recording Secretary will take the minutes of EB meetings, unless unavailable, in which event the President will designate another EB member to take the minutes.
§ 5. Voting. Each EB member is entitled to one (1) vote. The members of constituencies represented by a Vice-President may elect up to two (2) ranked Alternate Vice-Presidents, who may vote only in the Vice-President’s absence. Alternate Vice-Presidents may simultaneously serve as Delegates on the DC; however, in the absence of the Vice-President, no Alternate Vice-Presi¬dent/Delegate may cast more than one (1) vote.

Article VII: Executive Officers
§ 1. President. The President will be the chief executive Officer of the union. In addition to the duties specified in the Constitution, the President will preside over meetings, and be charged with carrying out all resolutions of the membership, DC and EB. The President will be responsible for the administration of the union between meetings of those bodies, and will represent the union in its dealings with other UAW bodies, organizations, and any public entities. The President, and the Financial Secretary-Treasurer in his/her absence, will be an ex-officio member of all union committees.
§ 2. Financial Secretary-Treasurer. The Financial Secretary-Treasurer will, in case of resignation, illness, removal, death or absence of the President, carry out all duties of the President, until, if necessary, an election for President is held pursuant to Article VIII, § 3. In addition to the duties specified in the Constitution, the Financial Secretary-Treasurer will carry out all duties prescribed by the President and resolutions of the membership, DC and EB, and attend all meetings, and take custody of all votes and minutes of meetings of those bodies. The Financial Secretary-Treasurer will also have custody of all union funds, keep records of all receipts and disbursements, and submit periodic accountings of the union’s financial transactions to the union Trustees, the DC and the EB.
§ 3. Recording Secretary. In addition to the duties specified in the Constitution, the Recording Secretary will take the minutes of EB and DC meetings.
§ 4. Vice-Presidents. The Vice-Presidents will carry out all duties prescribed by the President and their respective constituencies and attend all meetings, and carry out all resolutions of the membership, DC and EB. The Vice-Presidents will preside over all meetings of the members and Delegates of their respective constituencies.

Article VIII: Elections
§ 1. Eligibility. Executive Officer candidates must be either a member in good standing for one (1) year prior to the nomination, or a current Officer. Candidates for Delegate must be a member in good standing for six (6) months prior to the election. The Senior Attorney representative must be in the tenth (10th) year or greater of service within the bargaining unit. The Junior Attorney representative must be at seniority step 4 or below, and, once elected, cannot continue to serve after step 6. The ACLA & Gay and Lesbian representatives must be members of their respective constituencies.
§ 2. Terms. Pursuant to Article 38, § 2 of the International Union Constitution, all terms of office for Officers, Alternate Vice-Presidents, at-large members of the EB, and Trustees will be three years. Pursuant to Article 45 of the Constitution, Delegates and Alternate Delegates will have a two-year term. The first general elections under these bylaws will take place by October 31, 1999. The precise date of subsequent general elections will be set by the EB or DC, provided that it occurs within thirty (30) days of the three (3)-year anniversary of the previous general elections of EB members and Trustees, and the two (2)-year anniversary of the previous election of Delegates. The election of members of the Election Committee will occur at a DC meeting prior to general elections. Nominations for Trustees and at-large members of the EB will be received at the first DC meeting after general elections and election of those offices will occur at the second DC meeting.
§ 3. Vacancies. Officer vacancies which occur more than three (3) months prior to the next general election will be filled by a special election. Vacancies which occur less than three (3) months prior to the next general election will be filled, in relation to the President by the Financial Secretary-Treasurer; in relation to the Financial Secretary-Treasurer or the Recording Secretary by a member elected by the EB; and in relation to a Vice-President by the Alternate Vice-President. Alternate Vice-President vacancies will be filled by a special election within one (1) month of the vacancy; Trustee vacancies will be filled by the DC; and Delegate vacancies will be filled by the Alternate Delegate until a new Delegate is chosen at a special election within one (1) month of the vacancy.
§ 4. Elections.
§ 4.1. Elections Committee. An Elections Committee, comprised of non-candidates and elected by the DC, will conduct, oversee and certify all union elections. Non-candidate Officers, Delegates and Alternates may assist in conducting elections.
§ 4.2. Nominations. Written Officer nominations will be accepted during a period thirty (30) days prior to a citywide membership meeting during which additional oral nominations will also be accepted and a candidates forum conducted.
§ 4.3. Time and Notice of Voting. Elections will occur not earlier than seven (7) days after the close of nominations and regardless of whether a quorum was present at the nominations/candidate forum meeting. Fifteen (15) days notice of general elections and special Officer elections must be given.
§ 4.4. Location of Voting. Members will vote in person in their offices or at designated polling place(s).
§ 4.5. Margin Required. Pursuant to Article 38 of the Constitution, election of Executive Officers will require a majority of votes cast. All other elections will be by plurality vote. § 4.6. Uncontested Elections. An election will take place even if the position is uncontested.
§ 4.7. Voting Procedure. Voting procedures utilized will be designed to accommodate the greatest number of members, particularly those assigned to work night arraignment shifts.

Article IX: Removal of Union Representatives
§ 1. Major Charges.
§ 1.1 Preliminary Stages.
§ 1.1.1. Initiation and Grounds. Any member of the DC may prefer charges to remove any Officer, Delegate, or Alternate of the union for just cause, which will include malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office.
§ 1.1.2. Notice and Pleadings. Within five (5) days of the filing of charges, the Financial Secretary-Treasurer (or President, if the accused is the Financial Secretary-Treasurer), will formulate specifications and forward the charges and specifications by registered mail to the accused, who has the right to answer the charges. Such answer must be postmarked or delivered within thirty (30) days of the registered mail receipt date upon the notice sent to the accused.
§ 1.1.3. Finding of Merit. Within five (5) days of receipt of the answer, the Financial Secretary-Treasurer (or President) will forward the charges, specifications and answer to the EB, which will vote at its next meeting on whether there is merit to the charges. An EB finding of merit must be reviewed de novo by the DC at its next meeting, while an EB finding of no merit may be so reviewed by the DC. If the accused fails to answer the charges and specifications within thirty (30) days, the EB will proceed as if the answer had been received on the thirtieth (30th) day after the registered mail receipt date from the notice sent to the accused.
§ 1.2 Trial Board.
§ 1.2.1 Convening. Within ten (10) days after its vote of merit on the charges, the DC will convene as a Trial Board to consider removal of the accused from office.
§ 1.2.2. Chair. The President (or Financial Secretary-Treasurer) will preside at the Trial Board hearing, which will be recorded by any means authorized by the Trial Board.
§ 1.2.3. Presumption and Counsel. At the hearing, the accused is presumed innocent and has the right to be represented by counsel.
§ 1.2.4. Evidentiary Rules. The rules of evidence will be within the discretion of the Trial Board; formal judicial evidentiary rules are not mandatory. The Trial Board will exclude evidence deemed irrelevant, immaterial, unduly repetitious, or legally privileged; it may call for further evidence or testimony at any stage in the hearing. Refusal of a witness to answer a proper question at the hearing will be grounds for the Trial Board to strike all testimony previously given by the witness. Every person whose interests are or may be affected by the hearing will have the right to present oral or documentary direct or rebuttal evidence, to examine witnesses or evidence and to object to admissions or exclusions of evidence. After the hearing is closed, no further information will be received by the Trial Board unless such provision has been made at the hearing or if it reopens the hearing.
§ 1.2.5. Decision. Within five (5) days after the hearing closes, the Trial Board will vote by secret ballot whether to sustain the charges and, if so, whether to remove the accused from office. A vote of at least two-thirds (⅔) of the Trial Board is required to sustain any charge and for removal. The Trial Board will send the accused its decision forthwith by registered mail. It will also establish an effective date for removal no less than five (5) days after its decision.
§ 1.3. Appeal.
§ 1.3.1. Filing. Prior to the effective date of his/her removal, the accused may appeal to the membership by filing a notice of appeal with the President (Financial Secretary-Treasurer). Timely notice of appeal by the accused stays his/her removal pending the membership’s resolution of the appeal.
§ 1.3.2. Decision. Within twenty (20) days of receipt of the notice of appeal, the President (Financial Secretary-Treasurer) will convene a membership meeting at which she/he presents the Trial Board’s findings and the accused has the right to make a presentation. The membership will vote upon the appeal by secret ballot. If upheld by a majority vote of the membership, the Trial Board’s decision to remove the accused will be effective immediately.
§ 2. Other Charges. Additional grounds for removal from office will include pursuit of a management position by a serving Officer; or three consecutive, unexcused absences from an EB or DC meeting by any of its members. An absence is not unexcused where the body where the absence occurred votes to excuse the absentee or where the absentee’s constituency is represented by an elected Alternate. Upon the accused receiving ten (10) days notice and an opportunity to be heard at a DC meeting for which the accused’s removal has been noticed, the DC may remove the accused from office upon a two-thirds (⅔) vote of those present, provided a quorum is achieved. Where the charge is unexcused absences, the accused may proffer an excuse(s) at the time his/her removal is being considered. The accused will have the same right of appeal specified in § 1.3 herein.
§ 3. Effect of Removal. Removal will result in forfeiture of all pay, allowances and fees due from the union to the removed Officer, Delegate or Alternate from the date of removal.

Article X: Dues And Fees
§ 1. Initiation Fee. There will be a fifty dollar ($50) initiation fee for new members. The fee will not apply to any former member in good standing who paid the initiation fee, resigned from his/her job, and was subsequently rehired within two (2) years.
§ 2. Reinstatement Fee. Any member who resigned, or who was suspended or expelled from the union, and who now seeks to rejoin, will pay a reinstatement fee as determined by the EB.
§ 3. Dues. Any changes in the dues structure must be approved by the membership.

Article XI: Strikes
§ 1. Violating a Strike. Any member who works for The Legal Aid Society (LAS) or another bargaining unit represented by the union during a strike at that employer will be guilty of violating a strike. Any member accused of violating a strike will be subject to a trial under Article 31 of the Constitution and, if found guilty, to the penalties specified therein and to a fine not to exceed one (1) day’s gross pay for each day worked.

Article XII: Staffing
Finances permitting, the President and Financial Secretary-Treasurer, in that order, will be on union staff, and will receive the same salary and benefits they would have received on active LAS staff. Any additional union staff will be determined by the EB.

Article XIII: Parliamentary Order
Robert’s Rules of Order will apply in all situations not covered by the International Union Constitution or these bylaws.

Article XIV: Amendments
These bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of the members, after thirty (30) days notice of the proposed amendment, or by a majority vote of the DC, after the proposed amendment is noticed on the agenda of two (2) consecutive DC meetings.

Article XV: Savings Clause
A declaration that any provision of these bylaws is null and void will not in any way affect the validity of other provisions or the bylaws as a whole.

Article XVI: Adoption
These bylaws will become effective upon their adoption by a majority vote of the membership.

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