ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

July 9, 2004

2004.07.09: Legal Aid Crisis

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004 5:46 PM
To: letters@nytimes.com
Subject: Legal Aid Crisis

To the Editor:

Legal Aid’s weak financial accounting is troubling (“How a Lax Eye on Money Pushed Legal Aid to the Brink,” July 8).

But its budget deficit grew mainly because, beginning in 1994, the Giuliani administration drained more than $160 million from Legal Aid’s criminal defense funding.

As the Times has noted, “[a] hobbled Legal Aid Society represented about 200,000 indigent defendants [in 2000], roughly the same number it did six years ago, but with a fraction of the resources.”  (“For New York City’s Poor, a Lawyer With 1,600 Clients,” April 9, 2001.)

The city must fully restore Legal Aid funding to 1994 levels.  The Society’s directors must ensure jobs and compensation for all Legal Aid attorney and support staff, who daily provide high-quality indigent representation.

MICHAEL LETWIN
Former President (1989-2002)
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

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July 6, 2004

2004.07.06: Correction to Vote No Statement

From: Michael Letwin
Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2004 3:44 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Correction to Vote No Statement

Due to miscommunication, Robert Zuss was erroneously listed as a signer of the attached statement. The other signers were correctly named.

From: Azalia Torres
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 6:01 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: No to Givebacks

The Executive Board is recommending (9-0-2) that members vote tomorrow to approve elimination of employer-paid TransitCheks and for a two-year “deferral” of July’s 1.5% bonus. The EB hopes this will convince the Legal Aid Board to withdraw layoffs for attorneys in the Civil and Volunteer Divisions. The EB also recommends serious limits on CDD comp day accumulation, in order to head-off the Board’s threat of unilateral changes.

We believe voting “yes” is a serious mistake.

Last year, Management reneged on its promise of 3% salary increases, to be funded by $8.6 million city budget increases in each of two years won by the unions. Now that our unions have won an additional $11 million, are we going to just roll over without a fight? This would set a very dangerous precedent, particularly as we confront a hostile Board seeking further concessions. Furthermore, the proposed givebacks do not even protect us from additional Board extortion.

Instead, let’s join 1199 to fight for withdrawal of all layoff notices – in both unions – without givebacks. Let us:

1. Vote “no” to givebacks.

2. Demand a two-week suspension of layoff notices to negotiate non-concessionary alternatives.

3. Organize very public pressure, with support from the City Council and other allies.

This kind of campaign is our only chance to save union jobs, without surrendering hard-won compensation.

Signed,

Susan Morris, CDD-Brooklyn, ALAA Sgt.-at-Arms (EB) Azalia Torres, CDD-Brooklyn, ALAA Senior Attorney representative (EB) Robert Zuss, , Vice-President, CDD-Brooklyn Michael Letwin, CDD-Brooklyn Steve Terry, Alternate Delegate, Complex 3, CDD-Brooklyn

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