ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

September 14, 2006

2006.09.14: Re: Open Letter to the Bargaining Committee and Executive Board

—–Original Message—–
From: Azalia Torres
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:58 PM
Subject: Re: Open Letter to the Bargaining Committee and Executive Board

I beg to differ. Many unions function as [S] has indicated, yes. That is because the majority of the unions are not truly democratic and basically have leaderships that make all decisions for its members. One exception being a new contract.

Up to the last couple of years, ALAA always prided itself in being one of the most democratic unions in existence. We made sure that all members, whether they went to meetings or not, were fully informed on what their leadership was involved in.

No one is asking for the minute details of all discussions had with management. What we are entitled to, given our history and past practice, are reports laying out what exactly is going on with negotiations, where we stand.

This is the only way of insuring that everyone gets the same quality of information. We don’t have to depend on whether someone takes good notes or whether they have a good memory. We also cut down drastically on the jumping to conclusions that goes on throughout ALAA.

This is not that much to ask for; especially since it’s been provided in the past.

Azalia Torres
The Legal Aid Society

>>> [S] 09/14 4:20 PM >>>
I must disagree with my Brooklyn colleagues. Negotiations are not conducted with the continuing advice and consent of 1000 people (LAS lawyers). Negotiation are best conducted – in confidence – by the duly-elected bargaining committee. Once a contract is given to us to vote on, then we can vote it up or down.

We make informed discisions on the contract as a whole, not each aspect as it is being negotiated. Factual reports distributed after each meeting will undoubtedly serve to be divisive and ultimately meaningless, as they are seldom representative of the final proposal. We vote on the forest, not the individual trees.

As union members, we are not entitled to the information cluster 3 requests. We are entitled to hold our union leaders accountable by voting on the contract and their office. The bargaining process is, and should be, conducted in confidence by our leadership. The time for informed decision-making is whe it comes time to vote.

This is how unions operate, and how ours should as well.

>>> [JS] 09/13 3:05 PM >>>
The attorneys of Brooklyn CDD Cluster 3 request that these bodies publish a complete written report explaining every stage of the bargaining process. Factual reports of each discussion held with management and/or the board, distributed promptly, will ensure that the membership is engaged and leadership held accountable. In the near future, we will be expected to vote on a new contact. Knowledge of the manner in which the facts are developed and the rationale for management’s acceptance or refusal of terms will help us make a truly informed decision. As Union members, we are entitled to this information.

Our Cluster Delegate will propose that this resolution be adopted at the next Brooklyn delegates meeting and we urge members in other boroughs to do the same.

Michael Letwin
Azalia Torres

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