ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

October 17, 2003

2003.10.07: Economic Proposals

From: Susan Morris
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2003 4:27 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Economic Proposals

Economic Proposals

As an ALAA citywide officer, I have been on the non-economic issues bargaining subcommittee throughout these contract negotiations. I must comment on Jim Rogers’ “Report to Membership on Non-Economic Agreement” of October 6, 2003. Since this report isn’t redlined, proposed changes are not easy to follow. No explanations are given for the “changes” that are indicated in the Report. This Report also omits important information that the membership has a right to know – information about the PROCESS.

For example:

In JRD negotiations, Management’s response to our demands for case caps (*) was incredibly insulting. Essentially, the numbers provided by management as appropriate caseloads were AT OR ABOVE the current caseloads carried by JRD attorneys. If the Executive Board had informed the membership of this when it happened, we might have been able to put pressure on Management to do better. As it is, we have ended up with nothing.

It also didn’t help JRD negotiations that, on two separate occasions, the Union president told Management “we are at an impasse.” As I wrote to the rest of the EB on July 8 (*), “the word ‘impasse’ in bargaining is so much more than childish – it is a legal term of art that has devastating consequences! . . . . To say we are at an impasse indicates to management that there will be no more negotiation on this issue – that we are relieving management of their duty to bargain.”

In the same meeting, Jim Rogers told Management that LAS has done “everything it can do” on affirmative action issues. As I recounted to the EB on July 8 in my same memo/email, “Specifically, TDL [Theresa de Leon] said something along the lines of management is doing all it can [on affirmative action], and Jim responded in a similar vein that he was willing to concede that management has done so; I spoke up and said that I was not willing to concede this and that I did not think the membership was either.)”

These are simply examples of SOME of the process and problems that have occurred during the negotiations – process that the membership was left in the dark about. I am not the only member of the EB that has vehemently recommended that we advise the membership AS WE PROCEED as to our progress.

At one EB meeting(*), I suggested that we post in a similar vein as 1199 did, advising our membership that management’s early offers (not so different from the current offer) as to the economic package was virtually no raises for 2 years. While some members of the EB agreed with me, the majority did not. Actually at this suggestion, Jim Rogers resoundingly advised me that 1199’s tactics in posting management’s offers was a very poor tactic.

This raises another issue: certain members of the EB bandy about the word “unanimous” as if we on the EB are all of one mind. This is more than merely an error, it is an outright lie. We are NOT of one mind; there are many differences and many different opinions. I do not understand the members that use this word so freely, my personal opinion is that there is no need to be afraid of admitting that we have differences and that it affects our decision-making process. There are very few votes actually taken in the EB meetings, so to even suggest that there is unanimity is a misnomer.

I am publishing this information, although a little late, in the hopes that the DC meeting for tonight will promote conversation and discussion, rather than the silence and secrecy that has been attendant with the last few month’s work. I have stacks and stacks of PROGRESS REPORTS from the last two contract negotiations where I was not a member of the negotiating process. I am ashamed that I am now a member of the most secretive board since I have arrived at Legal Aid. I stress again, I am not alone in my concerns with this issue as a member of the EB, but this is a democracy, and the majority rules.

I am only sorry that we seem to be moving away from a member-driven democracy. Please, come to the meeting tonight and speak out and DEMAND discussion. If the members don’t require it, it won’t happen. We are no longer under the gun from the Giuliani administration, but rather are being embraced by a new administration. A request to increase our work and an additional $8.6 million in funds, and there are those who say that we have no leverage??? It is only a shame that we are at this point in the process before our membership has been given an opportunity to participate.

(*) – I do not have exact dates and attachments at this time, but will be happy to provide them – I hope to have them gathered by the end of next week.

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