ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 21, 2002

2002.11.21: ALAA Candidate Statements

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ALAA Solidarity & Democracy Slate: Joint Statement

President: Michael Letwin (Incumbent)

Trustees: Peter Blum (CDD-Bklyn), Antonia Codling (Volunteer/CLO), John Geida (CDD-Manhattan)

Attorneys of Color of Legal Aid (ACLA) Representative: Angel Soto (CDD-Manhattan)

Junior Attorney Representative: Rachel Jones (CDD-Bklyn)

Senior Attorney Representative: Azalia Torres (Incumbent; CDD-Bklyn)

Summary

Despite an increasingly hostile climate, ALAA has

successfully defended existing attorney jobs, restored city

criminal funding used to hire scores of new CDD lawyers, won

dramatic compensation increases, and fulfilled many other goals.

These achievements are not coincidental, but rather result

from two essential ingredients: ( 1) Active, highly-democratic

membership participation; and (2) Leadership with the proven

ability to forge and implement consensus among our Union’s

diverse ranks.

We ask your support for our slate so that the Union can

continue to consolidate and extend these gains-through loan

forgiveness and other compensation increases in upcoming

contract negotiations, additional restoration ofLAS city criminal

funding, defense of essential quality representation principles,

greater attorney diversity, and other improvements.

Above all, we ask you to judge us-and all candidates for

Union office-not on mere campaign promises, but on our

respective track records of promoting the solidarity and mutual

respect amongst members without which ALAA cannot survive.

Indeed, this election is a referendum on the Union’s fundamental

direction. and achievements.

The record on which we stand, accompanied by our brief

individual biographies, is outlined below.

The Record

LAS Funding

In response to a $5-6 billion municipal budget deficit, the

Bloomberg administration has inflicted ever-deepening budget

cuts, and even layoffs, on virtually every city-funded

agency—–“except ·ours.

This reflects not city largess, but rather electoral lobbying

and federal litigation · strategies with which ALAA,

notwithstanding its small size, has successfully leveraged the

strength ofthe UAW, Working Families Party, 1199/SEIU and

our own membership. These coordinated efforts not only stopped

the city from cutting LAS criminal funding by $5.6 million (or

100 attorney jobs), but won an $8.6 million net increase that has

enabled the Society to hire scores of new lawyers.

At the same time, ALAA stood its ground against the city’s

demand for an arraignment bureau, and directed a greater portion

of LAS resources to COD-Manhattan, while at the same time

protecting attorneys in CAB and other CDD offices from

demands by management-and even some Union members-for

involuntary transfers.

Similar efforts have successfully defended Civil and CLO

funding against proposed RFPs and budget cuts.

Compensation

Over the past four years, each.member has benefitted from

ALAA contracts that increase compensation rates by an average

of 6%/yr.-a higher rate than contracts for NYC teachers, police,

or firefighters. When combined with annual step promotion, the

increases are far greater.

•Salary. Combined rate/step salary raises include 47%

($17,000) at step 2, and 20% ($14,000) for senior attorneys who

benefitted from creation of new steps 14-25. No individual

attorney has received a combined rate/step salary increase ofless

than 14% ($10,000).

•Institutional Assienments. $175/shift lobster increase;

taxi & meal allowance.

•Tax-free Income. TransitCheks ($720/yr. or taxable cash

equivalent) & pre-tax supplement option; biannual bar

registration fee ($300); $500/yr. foreign language allowance.

•Paid Time Off. Ten new discretionary bereavement

days/career in all divisions; 5 new personal days/yr. and 5 new

vacation days/yr. buy-back in non-CDD units.

•Parental Leave. Eight paid weeks for all new parents,

including adoptive, step-, and each in 2-LAS households; unpaid

parental leave expanded to fathers, step-parents, adoptive

parents, domestic partners

•Health · & Pension. Retiree health benefits and oral

contraceptive coverage; upgraded dental, vision and long-term

disability; and earlier LAS pension contributions.

• Part-timers. Annual salary increases, fewer hours required

for employer-paid insurance; increased number of slots, more

option for paid hours, elimination of job-sharing and child care

requirements, and greater right to return to full-time.

•Work Hours. Flex-time & telecommuting.

•Private Practice. Non-conflict private practice option

while on unpaid leave.

Policy & Practice

•Diversitv. Improved affirmative action standards and

procedures.

•Junior Attorneys. One-year recall right after third-time bar

passage; simplified probation period with stronger grievance

rights; greater felony certification rights; and training for all new

attorneys in their divisions’ basic practice areas.

•ffirine & Promotion .. Right to attorney participation in all

divisions.

•Pr-actice. Process for development of divisional workload

standards; stronger continuity rights in non-CDD divisions;

computerization of all offices.

Contract Enforcement & Member Service

Despite a sharp membership decrease caused by Giuliani’s

retaliatory LAS funding cuts, ALAA dues are lower than that of

any other union ofNYC professional workers, and have not risen

for more than four years.

The leadership has accomplished this by obtaining:

•Paid LAS release time for a Union officer ($100,000/yr.).

•Replacement of both vacant Union support staff lines with

a large volunteer student intern program ($70,000/yr.).

•UAW assumption of all costs of ALAA litigation against

the city ($200,000-$300,000)

•Sharp reduction in other legal fees ($30,000/yr.).

Despite these sharp spending reductions, ALAA has fully

maintained prompt, dependable and skilled Union

administration, as reflected in:

• Protection from unsafe reoccupation of90 Church St., while

ensuring attorney access to displaced case files.

•Attorneys saved from threatened termination for cause.

•Outside counsel for staff attorneys attacked by judges.

•Preservation of CDD comp. days-. without self-defeating

steps that would have jeopardized city funding.

•Successful grievance of blanket JRD probation extension.

•Groundwork laid, per counsel’s advice, for arbitration of

JRD workload.

•Defense of individual attorneys of color under attack in

Civil Division and CDD.

•Establishment and defense of attorney free speech on

ALAA e-list.

•Frequent visits to, dialogue with, and support for members

in LAS offices.

Social Justice & Labor Solidarity

While never losing focus on immediate job-related issues,

ALAA has spoken out on such critical issues as:

•Rockefeller drug law repeal.

•Transit workers’ right to strike.

•Police abuse of Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo and Patrick

Dorismond.

• Death penalty moratorium.

• Pacifica Radio.

•Civil liberties and immigration rights since 9/11.

•Vieques.

•NYU adjunct union organizing campaign.

The Future

These and other achievements are not laurels on which to

rest, but rather a strong foundation with which to address such

major challenges as:

•Contract Negotiations. Upcoming contract negotiations

must ensure maximum allocation of LAS funds not only to new

hiring, but to higher senior step· rates, loan forgiveness for

heavily-indebted junior and mid-level attorneys, and numerm~s

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other needs.

• Funding. This year’s transfer of 18-b resources to LAS

represented significant progress. But the city’s threat to “go

elsewhere” demonstrates the continuing need for a renewed

political campaign to eliminate the nonunion RFP runaway shops

used by the city to corrode quality representation.

•Workload. The Union must continue to support CDD

attorneys, particularly in Manhattan and Brooklyn, in fairly,

rationally and ethically handling the city contract’s 86%

requirement.

This includes maintaining our commitment to sufficient

staffing, vertical continuity of representation and resistance to an

arraignment bureau, ethical conflict policy, and 1 :00 a.m. end to

night court.

In JRD, management’s clear refusal to address longstanding

workload issues has set the stage for invoking outside

arbitration.

•Diversity. Despite improved contract language and Union

participation in hiring, greater attorney diversity must be

promoted, particularly through earlier job offers and reactivation

of the JointAffrrmative Action Committee.

• Union Solidarity and Democracy. However controversial

a particular issue~ it is indisputable that each and every ALAA

decision is m11de democratically by the membership as a whole,

and/or by directly.,accountable elected representatives. In

recently conforming ALAA bylaws to UA W requirements, the

Union has further expanded opportunities for members to

participate in leadership roles.

Atthe same time, productive Union participation, debate and

solidarity are severely undermined when even a small number of

members misuse ALAA meetings ·and e-mail to harangue,

denounce or otherwise heap abuse on those with whom they

disagree. Alienated by such destructive behavior, many

members understandably chose not to participate in the Union.

This will change only when the vast majority insist on their

right to an internal Union culture characterized by:

•Inter-office dialogue-not “us v. them” recriminations.

•Mutually respectful, participatory discussion-not angry

tantrums and personal attacks.

•Respect for democratic decision-making-not threats to

withdraw from the Union, or attempts to cut separate backdoor

deals with Management.

• Accurate factual reports-not reckless mis- or

dis information.

•Responsibility for collective decisions in whichwe have

participated (or failed to participate }-not blame-shifting.

Conclusion

We ask for your support to reinforce ALAA’s tradition of

democracy, solidarity and mutual respect-all of which are

essential to defend and extend the Union’s achievements.

ALAA Solidarity & Democracy Slate: Individual Statements

President: Micbael.Letwin (Incumbent)

I have been a political and labor activist since 1969.

For nearly 20 years, I have been associated with The Legal Aid

Society, first as a law intern in the Prisoners Rights Project and Federal

Defender Division, and then as a Staff Attorney in Brooklyn COD,

where I was an ALAA delegate and the union-wide Vice-President.

Since 1990, I have led the Union through five consecutive contract

negotiations (including the current landmark collective bargaining

agreement), the 1994 strike and its aftermath, UAW affiliation, and

recent new hiring due to significant restoration of the Society’s criminal

funding.

Throughout, I have sought to.promote broad membership diversity

and participation, to build collective leadership, to provide each Staff

Attorney with highly-professional union services, and to fight for highquality

legal representation of our clients.

I have spoken out on such broader issues as police abuse, the

Rockefeller drug laws, trade unionism solidarity, and defense of civil

liberties and immigrant rights since 9111. Inwy personal capacity,·!

have expressed the views· of many ALAA members, and a growing

number of other trade unionists, by spe~ing out strongly against the

war.

I believe the record shows that my 3 0+ years of political, labor and

legal experience-twelve of them as ALAA president-have proven a

valuable asset that will continue to strengthen our Union in the critical

years ahead.

I appreciate, and once again request, your continuing support.

Trustee: L. Antonia Codling (CLO)

I have been at LAS for almost 7 years. Previously I have served

our Union in the following capacities:

•Delegate & Alt. Delegate for the Volunteer Division for

approximately 3 years

•Volunteer Division Rep. on the Joint AA Committee (since its

inception in 1998)

•ACLA Union-wide Rep.

In addition to the above, I have sat on many hiring committees in

the Volunteer Division (including, ALAA, 1199, Management) and

with central LAS for our current Affrrmative Action Officer. I also

participated in the bargaining process for our existing contract.

I have been informed that the role ofthe Trustee on the Executive

Board is to oversee the Union’s books and records. Additionally, I

believe that all of the positions on the Executive Board are ultimately

to serve the entire membership, individually and collectively. I am

deeply committed to working with the all of our members and the

leadership in strengthening our contractual rights and benefits.

Trustee: Peter Blum (CDD-Brooklyn)

Statement forthcoming on e-mail.

Trustee: John Geida (CDD-Manh)

Statement forthcoming on e-mail.

Attys of Color: Angel Soto (CDD-Manhattan)

Statement forthcoming on e-mail.

Jr. Attys: Rachel Jones (CDD-Bk)

My name is Rachel Jones. I am a part of the training class that

started on August 26, 2002 and I am running for Junior Attorney

Representative. I was an intern at Brooklyn JRD last year through a

clinic at law school (graduated May 2002). I took 5 years off between

college and law school-! worked at the New York Civil Rights

Coalition and taught third grade in Harlem for two years.

I am now working at COD in Brooklyn and am thrilled to be at the

Legal Aid Society. It is both a contentious and exciting time to be at

Legal Aid-and while I’m glad to have missed the Giuliani years, the

effects of that time are obviously still very present.

As the biggest class the Society has hired since Giuliani took

office, it is especially important that this new class come together to

support the issues that affect all of us. As I see it, the most important

issues facing junior attorneys are crippling law school debt,

certification, probation, and ensuring that absolutely no one is laid off.

Sr. Attys: Azalia Torres (Incumbent; CDD-Bk)

I began my 16th year in the Criminal Defense Division, Brooklyn

Office in September, 2002. I was Senior Attorney representative

during the past contract and I would like the opportunity to continue

fighting for more money for senior attorneys as well as improving the

quality of life for this constituency.

I understand very well the reality of working hard for so many

years without just compensation in both pay and benefits. In addition,

I know first hand the great difficulty in juggling a Supreme and

Criminal Court practice between buildings without proper consideration

or concern from management.

We’ve made major strides for senior attorneys through the creation

of salary steps 14-25 as well as retiree health benefits. For attorneys

who went from step 13 to 25, this meant an immediate increase of

$14,250 (20% ). I want to continue to advocate for the particular needs

and concerns of senior attorneys to insure that we continue to retain

committed and experienced individuals.

I will fight for those interests within the context of the needs of the

entire union. I have been active in this union for the last 15 years as

delegate, alternate vice-president in Brooklyn, co-founder of Attorneys

of Color of Legal Aid Caucus, bargaining committee (over five years),

and COD recruitment coordinator.

I understand that the Executive Board must represent the interests

of the whole union and ensure that the distribution of any resource is

done in a fair and balanced way. Fighting for the concerns of senior

attorneys is in everyone’s interests as the process will improve

conditions for all and provide more incentives to continue doing the

work we all love.

I am a fighter. I respect my colleagues opinions and listen to

everyone with a complaint/concern regardless of my opinion on a given

issue. Voting for me ensures that the Executive Board continues to

work to make ALAA a stronger union with the power to make

qualitative inroads in our fight for just compensation and a quality of

life in our offices reflective of the hard work we do in our respective

divisions.

Thank you.

End of ALAA Solidarity & Democracy Slate Statement

3

Jim Rogers for Union President

Dear Members:

Our union is entering some tough times with new contract

obligations, quotas, fmancial penalties and the possibility of LAS

giving control over how we do our jobs and how to best represent our

clients to the city. As a union, we· need to work hard to get the best

contract possible and ensure the greatest quality of representation. It is

vital that a staff attorney lead the union through this process.

To meet the union’s goals I intend to increase member

participation, improve our bargaining strategy and heighten our

organization’s visibility. Below I describe these ideas in some detail.

Biography

I have worked as a staff attorney with Bronx CDD for nine years.

I handle a large felony case load and try a lot of cases. I am committed

to representing clients and have no intention of serving more than one

term as union president. I believe the union should be led by someone

who actually does the work of the Society. The members’ best

advocate is an active attorney.

I have been a delegate for six years. I participated in all reorganization

and staffmg decisions made by management in the Bronx

office. I represented individual attorneys as situations arose. I was at

all times an effective advocate for members and clients alike. I

negotiated double comp time when management asked our members to

pick up additional arraignments when RFP groups pulled out of their

shifts.

Further, I participated in union-wide debates and decisions on key

issues. Most recently, I advocated in the Delegates Council to overturn

an earlier Executive Board decision to limit the amount of new hires.

In addition, I have participated in a number of outreach projects

that addressed client issues. I helped organize attorneys to offer legal

observer services to various grass roots political groups. I have spoken

at high school and college workshops including a lecture at CUNY on

the fourth amendment. I established a connection with a local

assemblyman’s office to deliver direct legal service to his constituents.

His appreciation helped LAS in various negotiations for funding.

Recently, I drafted an outreach plan for one of the mayoral candidates

on community policing. I have sat on both the Legal Aid Society’s and

the New York Civil Liberties Union’s committees on police

misconduct.

Our Goal: Increase bargaining power to more effectively advocate

for our membership and our clients.

The Plan: Increase andre-energize member participation, improve

bargaining strategy, heighten our visibility.

I) Increase Member Participation:

a) Regular Presence of the President at Local Offices. Our

· representative-delegate system is hampered by obvious limits on the

time delegates have to devote to union matters. The regular presence

of the union president in the various offices will fix this problem.

The unique nature of the challenges facing the various offices can

best be addressed by the members in the offices involved. I know first

hand that the entire membership must cope with heavy caseloads. It is

time for a new union leadership to establish a regular presence in the

offices so matters can be addressed during convenient hours.

b) End Divisive Leadership Practices: The membership needs to

be unified to fight for the best contract possible and for maximum

quality of representation. To avoid discord, union leaders ought to

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avoid attaching the union’s name to political causes not voted on byt]le

general membership even ifthename is.usedfor information purposes

only.

Change in leadership will energize the membership and end the

perception of there being a lock at the top on decision making

processes.

c) Work Towards Inter-Office Respect and Unity: The

membership tends to communicate only in critical times. We talk to

each other very rarely during non-crisis periods .. ·I· will· increase· the

flow of information between offices. I will develop an awareness of all

the·workbeing done in all the offices, including the use of a· union

newsletter to concentrate on the members and their cases.

d) Use Modem Technology To Communicate with Members:

Sometimes we can’t meet because our legal work absorbs our time.

Two options to consider are: Teleconferencing (a relatively inexpensive

option to increase the amount of time members can meet) and

regularized e-mail issue flagging and straw- polling (perhaps this will

make more constructive the footloose e-mail debate system currently in

use).

e) Release Time: Release time for members engaged in union

business is a contractual right. I will work with management to

guarantee its use. Members engaged in union business cannot be

expected to work full days, weeks, months and then use their personal

time to get the union job done. ·

II) Improve ALAA Visibility:

ALAA attorneys are the authorities many public policy issues. We

bring many of the actions against city agencies, fight the greatest

number of evictions and represent a majority of criminal defendants.

Y etwe as a union are not active partiCipants in public debate.

I will work to establish a media pipeline to and from our union

membership and thereby bring issues important to· our clients to the

public forum. I will create opportunities for ALAA attorneys to speak

to matters where they have the obvious expertise. I will ensure that

media outlets have access to our members.

When we become a visible entity and an organized advocate in the

public forum, we will directly benefit our clients and strengthen our

bargaining position as well.

III) Improve Bargaining Ideas:

a) Eliminate ·Divisive Inter-Office Bargaining: This year

management asked the members • in • each CDD office • to separately

assess how many new attorneys they thought they needed to meet new

contract demands. This led to divisive arguments among members about

the accuracy of those evaluations and about priorities. The union

leadership vacuum made worse the divisive inter-office squabbling and

emergency last minute decision making.

A few years ago management asked each office to develop an

independent plan detailing how each would spend our dwindled

fmances. Pretty soon our offices competed with each other and the

membership suffered a divisive set back. Again, the leadership vacuum

enabled management to initiate a bargaining practice that sapped our

strength.

I will work to eliminate this type of “planning” to the extent it

proceeds without prior membership consideration of its benefits and

liabilities.

b) Re-Open The Books: . It has been assumed for a number of years

that Legal Aid’s fmances are an open book. I challenge this notion and

submit that it is time to do an independent analysis. This must happen

before bargaining begins. All issues must be on the table, including

funds used for capital improvements, new management created jobs,

etc .

.. ..e-) Use< the Contract: Our contractual right to file grievaQ.ces and

arbitrate are under-utilized because members are not fully aware ofhow

such processes work and are discouraged by the false notion that use of

such tools creates a rift with management. Engaging contractual process

does not have to be acrimonious or divisive. It is in our best interest

and our clients’ to use whatever methods yield solutions. In addition,

our bargaining position will be enhanced by formalizing complaints and

placing them on the table.

I am a staff attorney first. I never waiver in my ongoing respect for

the members’ commitment to the best representation money can’t buy.

I will work hard for all of you so that your work may continue.·! will

examine every available dime to ensure you are compensated at the

highest available level.

Thank you for your consideration, Jim Rogers

Joseph Zablocki (Y ossi) for Trustee.

The frrst question on everyone’s mind is “What is a trustee?” The

simple answer is “I don’t know.” However, I am running for this

position for two reasons.

The frrst, and most important, is so that there will be a diversity of

views sitting on the executive board. From the moment I came to Legal

Aid (a little more than three years ago), I became very active in the

union. Initially, I was an alternate delegate, and although I could not

vote, I never missed a meeting, neither in my borough nor city wide.

As a delegate, my involvement increased especially when I organized

a borough wide case-load grievance (which 95% of our office signed

off on when I went door to door collecting signatures. ) Why would I

spend my time going office to office trying to get every member to sign

our grievance? The reason is simple. A strong union stems from

activity by our members encouraged by enthusiasm from our leaders.

The more active we are, the more powerful we would be. When the

same, (at times tired), faces showed up week after week at our

meetings, I realized that at least in Manhattan, we needed to encourage

more activity from the members. The same could be said about our

executive board, where to a large degree it has been the same faces with

the same views, month after month. It is important that new ideas and

members with great enthusiasm partake in this process. I also believe

that it is time for a change in our union. With this new contract with the

city, and the upcoming negotiations with management, we should take

this opportunity to strengthen ourselves as a union. We have increased

our size by some 40% and should be a force to reckon with. For the

past three years I’ve loved every moment of this job, never tiring from

the fight. Likewise, I will not tire from fighting for my fellow attorney’s

until we are treated with respect and compensated the way we deserve.

The second reason has to do with what little I know about this

newly created, not quite defmed, trustee position. Through sharp

cross-examination of those on the by-laws committee, I have discovered

that this position has to do with the union and its fmances. (No one

seems to know any more than this). Considering my background (I was

a director of a program for children with autism in the past and

managed a budget) and enjoyment of fmance, I thought this would be

a great way for me to be more active in the union.

I have great hope that my enthusiasm will foster more participation

by union members.

If anyone would like to talk with me, feel free to contact me at

(212)298-5296.

ACLA: Marlene Vasquez

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·My name is Marlene Vasquez and I am running for the position of

Attorney of Color Representative. I have worked with the Legal Aid

Society since 1991, beginning my tenure with CAB and later

transferring to Manhattan CDD, where I am presently the delegate for

Complex 3. I have participated in the union’s many struggles including

those of the attorneys of color in order to make the Society a better

workplace. Like many of you, I have lost confidence in our union’s

leadership, and believe it is in desperate need of new direction.

The major points that need immediate attention are:

1) Ensuring that diversity is practiced in hiring new classes and in

cultivating, retaining, and promoting attorneys of color. The Society

has failed us in these areas. Merely hiring new lawyers who fail to

remain due to the Society’s de facto policy is unacceptable.

2) Promoting better communication between the different

divisions at LAS; and

3) Ensuring that workloads throughout Legal Aid are ethical and

manageable. Protecting comp time against future devaluation, and

ensuring that other divisions receive this very essential benefit.

While all three issues are important, my paramount concern is

Legal Aid’s track record on retaining attorneys of color. We can no

longer accept the rationalizations given by management for its failure

to retain and promote us. This issue exists not only at CAB and

Manhattan CDD; (divisions in which I have worked), but throughout

the Society. In order to eliminate this problem, the attorneys of color

caucus needs to be re-established. It must focus on addressing these

concerns. The union’s leadership must make diversity a top priority.

Vice-Pres. CDD-Bx: Thomas A.

Bomba

STATEMENT ABOUT MY CANDIDACY FOR SENIOR

ATTORNEY REPRESENTATIVE ON THE EXECUTIVE

COMMITTEE

I have served as Senior Attorney Representative since 1994, when

I took the position because nobody else wanted it. I have fulfilled my

duties with enthusiasm, dependability and imagination. My

mathematics background has proved useful to the Executive

Council/Bargaining Committee when numbers (often preceded by $)

have become citywide union issues.

Since I have become the Senior Rep, the maximum salary for

senior staff has increased from less than $65,000 to $80,000 and we

have won the long battle to increase the number of salary steps from 13

to 25.

When I served on the Bylaws Revision Committee, one of our

stated goals was to make ALAA more of a participatory democracy.

This purpose is well served by an Executive Committee that taps into

the thoughts of all union members. This purpose is ill served by an

Executive Committee that is dominated by supporters of the only

slate-maker in the union. My being on the Executive Committee will

promote full discussion of important issues within the committee.

I ask you to support me as Senior Rep because the Executive

Council needs people who look at both sides of issues, who avoid

personal attacks and who can communicate not only with colleagues

from all divisions but also with 1199 members and management. I have

done these things and hope to continue to do so.

Thomas F. Bomba, January 2000

Shana Skaletsky-Junior Attorney

Union Representative Candidate

Background

While this is the first opportunity I have had in belonging to a

union, I do have a great deal ofleadership experience and involvement

in community activism. As an·undergraduate and as a law student, I

participated in politically progressive organizations and activities as an

organizer, as a demonstrator, and as a journalist. I am especially aware

and sensitive to the issues faced by those in the LGBT community and

communities of color.

Goals

Through my attendance at the most recent union meeting as well

as through discussions with many of my colleagues, I have identified

issues that are of concern to junior attorneys at The Legal Aid Society,

and I have set out several goals I hope to accomplish as Junior Attorney

Union Representative.

Increased Salaries and Benefits

Our new contract has not only enabled The Legal Aid Society to

hire more new attorneys, but has also allowed for us to receive a

substantially higher starting salary than many attorneys before us.

However, I do not believe the discussion as to salary should end here.

I believe that we should continue to fight for salaries that allow us to

maintain a favorable quality of life. We sought to work for The Legal

Aid Society because we are dedicat~d to providing exemplary

representation for the poor; the idea of being unable to reconcile the

ability to live within our means with the desire to do the work that we

love is not an acceptable one.

Loan Forgiveness Program Development

Many, if not most of us, have exorbitant loans from law school that

need to be repaid. In order for us to remain part of The Legal Aid

Society and continue to work for equal justice, the creation of a loan

forgiveness program is essential. State legislation pertaining to a loan

forgiveness program for those of us working for the public interest has

been at a standstill since January of this year. As your representative,

I will seek to recommence a dialogue regarding the development of a

loan forgiveness program, as this issue is paramount for those of us

who regard working for the public interest as a career.

Solidarity Among Divisions at The Legal Aid Societv

Although my personal experience extends only to that of a staff

attorney of the Criminal Defense Division in the Bronx, as Junior

Attorney Union Representative, I understand and am more than willing

to undertake the responsibility to represent all junior attorneys at The

Legal Aid Society, regardless of borough or division. I am aware that

each borough and division has its own personality and issues, and I

want to be alerted to the concerns of any and all junior attorneys. We

are all committed to working for the same goal in our own way.

I am tremendously excited to be a candidate for Junior Attorney

Union Representative. As Junior Attorney Union Representative, I will

seek to represent the interests of alljunior attorneys of The Legal Aid

Society. I look forward to meeting all of you at the scheduled forums,

and I extend my sincerest apologies in advance ifl am unable to attend

a particular forum. I would welcome any calls ore-mails regarding my

statement and candidacy-please feel free to contact me by e-mail at

seskaletskv@legal-aid.org or by telephone at (718) 579-3059.

David B. AIDer Candidate for Senior

6

Attorney Representative

Just as the enthusiasm and fresh outlook of our newest colleagues

is essential to Legal Aid’s vitality, so is the experience of a core group

of senior lawyers who have made a career choice to advocate for the

poor. Career Legal Aid lawyers are entitled to the fullest degree of

support and encouragement from management; and the most vigorous

advocacy from the union’s leadership. Regrettably, has not always

been, and is still not always the case.

It was not the case when one Chairman of our Board said bluntly,

some years ago, that ours is a job only for ”young lawyers,” who should

quickly move on to something else. Or when a purge in my own office

forced out senior lawyer after senior lawyer, with barely a whisper of

union opposition. ·Or when the Director of C:bD Training told this

very years’ new hires that they will see certain senior lawyers who

should no longer be here.

Our Society’s career lawyers are certainly not receiving their due

in the insulting salary-step system, that affords lawyers between years

13 and 25 a sum total $500 increase per year.

And senior lawyers did not receive their due last year when the

union Executiv~ Board, which including the incumbent Senior Attorney

Representative, engineered a hasty ratification vote on a half-negotiated

contract; without frrst clarifying an ambiguity on a key retirement

benefit that senior lawyers had fought for. As a result, the membership

was told on the very eve of their vote, when it was too late to go back

to the negotiating table, that the contract would not grant medex

supplemental health insurance benefits to every lawyer who had

worked here over· 25 years, as union leaders had been emphatically

opining it would. mstead, the most senior of our colleagues have to

work to age 65 or forfeit the benefit entirely.

I ask for your vote as a person who has been lawyer in our criminal

divisions for the last 12 years (frrst at CAB, then at Manhattan CDD)

and a delegate the last seven. I ask for it as one who has actively

participated in the various struggles in my office, and who has actively

weighed in on Society wide issues when management neglected what

it owed to my colleagues, or when leaders of the union did the same

thing . While on some occasions my zealousness my have a led me to

speak a little too abrasively and a little less artfully than I might have,

I do not think anyone would question my passion and commitment for

fostering democracy in this union, and for trying to force its often-toopassive

leadership to vigorously fight for the people who pay its dues.

As Senior Attorney Representative, I would seek to enhance the

democracy of our \mion by organizing the caucus of constituents that

our by-laws mandate that office holder to convene and take advice

from. In addition to giving .advice on what positions to take, I want

such a caucus to be actively involved in educating management and our

more junior colleagues about the essential role that experienced lawyers

play in a Legal Services organization. Unlike the present incumbent,

who has derided the caucus requirement a8 unfeasible, I view it as

indispensable to effective advocacy. Only with a well organized caucus

of constituents backing him or her up, will any senior attorney

representative be in a position to effectively advocate for his

constituencies’ interests, at all times, but especially in contract

negotiations. Only an active caucus’s support will allow that

representative to ensure that issues of concern to career lawyers are

properly addressed, fully negotiated, and unambiguously clarified an

any future contract.

Thank you.

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