ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 28, 2003

2003.05.28: Today 6 p.m.: Police Brutality Protest

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 3:38 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 10:04 AM
Subject: Today 6 p.m.: Police Brutality Protest
Importance: High

Stop Police Brutality
Rally & Protest
Justice for Ousmane Zongo

May 28, 6 p.m.
615 W. 27 Street  (between 11th-12th Ave.)

Sponsors include:
Natl Actn Ntwk, United African Congrs, Burkina Faso Assn.

May 27, 2003

2003.05.27: Today & Tomorrow: NYPD & Civil Liberties Protests

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Criminal Justice,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 3:39 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 9:44 AM
Subject: Today & Tomorrow: NYPD & Civil Liberties Protests
Importance: High

1.  Tues., May 27:  Response to Killings by NYPD

Tuesday, May 27, at 7 PM
Convent Avenue Church, 420 West 145th Street

Prreceded by a 6 PM vigil and march from Alberta Spruill’s apartment building, which is at 310 West 143rd Street.

The needless and tragic death of 57-year-old Harlem resident Alberta Spruill as the result of an early-morning NYPD raid on May 17 sounds a wake up call to all of us in the community of conscience.

The police that day used a “no knock” warrant, tossed a so-called flash grenade into Ms. Spruill’s apartment, and wrestled her to the ground despite her pleas that she was unable to breathe. Two hours later she was dead.

We must stop the continued militarization of policing in our city! We must change police procedures to so as to prevent the recurrence of tragedies like the one that occurred on May 17.

2.  Weds., May 28:  Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties in NYC

On Wednesday, May 28, 2003, there will be a press conference on the steps of City Hall to announce the introduction of a Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties at the New York City Council. The draft text of the resolution can be viewed at

Also, download a copy of the petition to protect the civil liberties of ALL New Yorkers, citizens and immigrants alike. Get your friends and coworkers to sign the petition and bring it along to the press conference. The petition is available at

For more links, see:

“Eroding Liberty: Rights and Liberties We Have Lost as a Result of the USA Patriot Act”

Click to access NYCBORDC_Eroding_Liberty_Flyer_030319.pdf

“Civil Liberties and the Culture of War”

May 21, 2003

2003.05.21: Re: Votes on [H] Arbitration Request

From: Susan Morris
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 3:22 PM
Subject: Re: Votes on [H] Arbitration Request

It is my understanding that the vote on the second question was a roll call vote. When you provide the minutes to the DC meeting, please include the roll call. Thank you.

>>> James Rogers 05/21 2:38 PM >>>
Dear Members:

Many thanks to all of you who showed up and stayed for consideration of the [H] arbitration request.  To my mind the deliberation was thoughtful and complete and resulted in the following answers:

Should the union arbitrate the absence of process in [H] discharge?

Yes: 27   No: 8          Abstentions: 2

Should the union arbitrate the discharge of [H] for the actions detailed in the termination notice?

Yes: 12   No: 26         Abstentions: 2

In addition, a motion to join the two questions prior to a vote was rejected by the body.

Therefore we will proceed to file a request for arbitration on question one straight away.  We will be seeking to remedy whatever losses were incurred due to the lack of process and a ruling that prevents summary discharge and/or institutes an appropriate procedure when discharge is ordered by the highest ranking officer of The Legal Aid Society.  In addition, I will ask the Executive Board to amend our bargaining proposals to include a demand for that type of process.

In accordance with the above vote, the union will not arbitrate the merits of [H’s] discharge.

If you have any questions please call me anytime.

Thank you

Jim Rogers

May 20, 2003

2003.05.20: UAW Rally Tomorrow (Weds)

Filed under: Labor Solidarity,Uncategorized — nyclaw01 @ 3:39 pm

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 12:21 PM
Importance: High


8:30 AM


A majority of New School University faculty want a union, and the Kerrey administration has mounted a legal challenge attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of New School University faculty members.

Now is the time to send Bob Kerrey and the University Trustees a clear message ? WE WON?T BE SILENT  WHILE THEY TRY TO BLOCK WORKERS FROM EXERCISING THEIR RIGHTS!

May 21st is graduation day ? the public celebration of our students?
accomplishments.  The administration trusts the faculty to educate their students.  As members of the university community, we need to show the Kerrey administration that they also need to trust the faculty to form a union!

8:30 AM

May 19, 2003

2003.05.19: Consideration of Arbitration Requests

Original format: Arbitration5.19.03


TO: ALAA Members

FR: Michael Letwin

CDD-Brooklyn; Former President (1989-2002)

RE: Consideration of Arbitration Requests

DA: May 19, 2003


On May 20, the Delegate Council will consider Ted Herlich’s request that the union arbitrate his recent discharge. Herlich, a nonmember Staff Attorney who repeatedly violated ALAA picket lines in the early 1990s, was fired for sending a racist and sexist e-mail message to Theresa de León, LAS Chief Operating Officer.

This memo draws no conclusions about the merits of Herlich’s request, which will be addressed by union counsel. Instead, it seeks to correct widespread confusion about: (1) The union’s obligations to a nonmember; (2) The union’s duty to arbitrate; (3) The process for considering arbitration; and (4) Speech rights at the workplace.

Union Obligations to a Nonmember in the Bargaining Unit

The Legal Aid Society is an agency shop, i.e., “[a] workplace in which not all employees are required to join the union as a condition of employment, but those who don’t must pay the union a service fee equal to dues.” The Union Steward’s Complete Guide 211 (David Prosten ed, UCS Inc., 1997). In this context, ALAA is the “exclusive bargaining representative” for all Staff Attorneys, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) §§ 1.1.1-1.1.2, including those who do not join, or who resign from, the union.

Nonmembers have no right to participate in union activities, Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. 402 § 3(o)[FN1], but the union owes members and nonmembers alike an identical duty of fair representation “both in its collective bargaining . . . and in its enforcement of the resulting collective bargaining agreement.” Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177 (1967).

The Union’s Duty to Arbitrate

The decision about whether to move a grievance to arbitration belongs not to any individual, but rests exclusively in the union. CBA § 1.8.6. The union has no legal duty to arbitrate all grievances, or even all strong grievances, but it must “in good faith and in a nonarbitrary manner make decisions as to the merits of particular grievances.” Vaca, at 194. This duty of fair representation is breached “only when a union’s conduct toward a member of the collective bargaining unit is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith,” id., at 190, i.e., “only if, in light of the factual and legal landscape at the time of the union’s actions, the union’s behavior is so far outside a ‘wide range of reasonableness’ . . . as to be irrational.” Air Line Pilots Ass’n, Intern. v. O’Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 67 (1991).

As the International UAW explains:

No individual member has an absolute right to insist that a grievance be pursued through any particular step of the procedure. The Union may screen grievances and press only those it concludes should be pursued in terms of benefit to the unit as a whole and to take into account such matters as time, expenses, and other considerations. Stated differently, the Union may fail to initiate or process and may settle or withdraw a grievance for any valid reason as long as there is a reason and the Union has some reasonable basis for its action.

Grievance Handlers’ Pocket Guide 166 (UAW Education Dept., 1996).

Process for Considering Arbitration

In deciding whether to arbitrate a grievance, the ALAA Delegate Council (elected officers and delegates) takes into account such issues as the union’s factual investigation, arbitration costs,[FN2] and legal counsel’s opinion about the likelihood of success. The DC has invariably followed counsel’s recommendation.

Speech Rights at the Workplace

The First Amendment does not apply to the employee-employer relationship at the Legal Aid Society, a private employer, Lefcourt v. Legal Aid Soc., 312 F. Supp. 1105 (S.D.N.Y. 1970), aff’d, 445 F.2d 1150 (2d. Cir. 1971). CBA § 3.5 and the National Labor Relations Act do guarantee certain employee speech rights, but do not protect behavior that contributes to a race- or gender-hostile environment at the workplace. CBA §§ 3.1.1-3.1.2; Equal Employment Opportunities Act (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Thus, Society policy prohibits:

Slurs, jokes, statements, remarks, questions, or gestures that are derogatory or demeaning to an individual’s or group’s characteristics or that promote negative stereotypes. . . . The prohibitions contained in this policy extend to all work and work-related communications, activities, behavior, and media that impact Legal Aid employees, including e-mail and office or work space display of materials . . .

Policy and Procedure Against Discrimination, paras. IV(A), VII (The Legal Aid Society, May 1, 2001). (Emphasis added.)

[FN1]These activities include voting on contracts, electing representatives, attending meetings, using the ALAA e-mail discussion group, etc.

[FN 2]Arbitration fees are born equally by the Society and the Union, CBA § 1.8.5; the Union also bears costs for its legal counsel.

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