ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 21, 2003

2003.11.21: Re: Democracy in action at ALAA (was: Right and Authority)

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 2:40 PM
To: Susan Morris; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Re: Democracy in action at ALAA (was: Right and Authority)

On February 21, 2002, the Delegate Council overwhelmingly adopted the position that: “‘As a labor union whose members fight each day for the statutory and constitutional rights of indigent New Yorkers, The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325, is deeply opposed to the Bush administration’s broad assault on precious civil liberties and democratic rights. . . . ALAA, therefore, supports and endorses all efforts to defend these freedoms against attacks such as those discussed above.” In Defense of Civil Liberties, at <;.

As a result, in March and September 2002, the Union co-sponsored demonstrations calling for the release of immigrants detained after 9/11,<;, <;, and supported many similar activities throughout the year.

This position is entirely consistent with ALAA’s long history of opposing racism, police abuse, the Rockefeller Drug Laws, incarceration of political prisoners and numerous other attacks on our rights and those of our clients. History of The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325 (Rev. Aug. 1999), at <;.

As stated in ALAA Bylaws, Art. III: “It will be the purpose of this union to. . . . [a]dvocate for the advancement of the interests of our clients and of poor and working people in general through political and legislative outreach.”

>>> Susan Morris 11/21/2003 2:00:44 PM >>>
There was a Union-wide vote to support the Bill of Rights Defense Campaign.

Each cluster/group in each Borough/Division had an opportunity to vote. The delegates of those groups then voted, at a DC meeting, according to their respective membership. We are a MEMBERSHIP driven democracy. It was the MEMBERSHIP that instructed the delegates how to vote. In supporting the Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, we, the membership of ALAA, became members of the coalition.

As for the question, “Are we an organization that represents poor people or are we an organization that enforces civil rights and liberties,” I fail to see the difference.

Sigmund Israel, who has been with the Legal Aid Society for 30 some years now, once put it best, when he said, “We are an association of attorneys, in the form of a union. We are not just concerned with purely economic matters, but public matters as well. We must be involved in taking a stand as it affects our (U.S.A.) constituion.”

(FYI: Mr. Israel made that statement in the meeting where Cluster 3 of Brooklyn CDD voted to support the Bill of Rights Campaign. I wrote it down and have it tacked up to my bulletin board, where I glance at it daily.)

Susan O. Morris
Brooklyn CDD
ALAA Sgt-at-Arms

>>> James Rogers 11/21/2003 12:56:59 PM >>>
The Executive Board voted unanimously to be a member. We are a civil rights/civil liberties organization. We deal with limiting police power. That is who we are. We are very careful about what groups we join, but this one was a no brainer. I am proud the executive board took this action and I am one of the point people. THE POLICE HAVE TOO MUCH POWER. THE GOV’T IS DECLARING CITIZENS EMEMY COMBANTANTS. CONSERVATIVE COURTS OF APPEALS HAVE TAKEN GREAT ISSUE WITH THAT. This is what this union is about in addtion to our bread and butter labor issues. Our poor and immigrant clients are the ones bearing the brunt of Patriot I and II. Remember the Indian restauratn wokers raid. Or did you read about the Cambodian refugee who was sent deported.

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