ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 15, 2006

2006.11.15: Re: Good Job. Keep it up. If you lead us, we will come!

From: Lisa R. Edwards
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:07 PM
To: James Rogers; Roy Wasserman; Susan Morris; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Re: Good Job. Keep it up. If you lead us, we will come!

I have to say when I heard that the leafletting was being cancelled.  I was expecting a lot more than what we got or what at least some of us got. I expected that there would be some movement on the retro issue since it seems like there is no way in hell the union would hold out for comp time for the Civil Practicioners or JRD folks who also work night and weekend shifts and carry enormous caseloads.   But to cancel the leafletting for a benefit that also does not benefit the entire membership was not fair. It is not that folks who may be in my camp begrudge those who are in receipt of these benefits.  It really is that for once we should get the same benefits too.  And we didn’t, we didn’t even get a penny of retro pay so why was the leafletting cancelled.  Give me a seat on the board.  Give me something.  What do we say to our 1199 brothers and sisters.  I thought they were planning to join us there.   So now they’ll be leafletting and we will be what??  So I hope the beginning of our campaign to place pressure on management by leafletting at this annual meeting was not the end and there’s another action plan in place.   Lisa.

>>> Susan Morris 11/15 9:25 AM >>>
Roy, I just don’t see where congratulations are in order.

I am appalled that the decision was made to cancel the leafletting.

Until the contract addressed our needs, we should have gone forward with our action.  This is an ANNUAL meeting; we had only one chance to take advantage of it and now it’s gone.

For years now we have done nothing but give back pay and benefits.  This contract continues that proud new tradition.

What kind of “win” is this?  The values-enforcement by the board that those with families and family issues may continue to participate (though in a limited fashion) in the comp/leave system which has been entrenched at LAS for years now is a joke.  Comp days were earned equally and should be taken equally.  No one person’s reason for taking a leave and using comp days should be more highly valued over anyone else’s.  This is a slap in the face, and privileges some members of our orginaization over others in a way that is a throw-back to the 1950s & 60s; it is  “family values” compromise.

If the threat of leafletting made members of the board sit up and take notice, why didn’t we push it?  Why wasn’t the new head of LAS told, when you do a, b and c, then we will think about calling it off.

One little bit of movement by a board member and we grab the chewed-upon carrot and run away.

“This is how the big boys play, Susan.”  “Back room deals are how it’s done.”  “You want the process to be pure, Susan?”  Yeah, those are real quotes.  (If we ever get a contract, I’ll share the speaker’s name.)

We argue for transparency in management’s books and dealings, and then these little side-negotiations occur.

How is that the EB agreed to attempt to contact Banks for some “tweaking,” various members of the board express interest in being involved in that process, Banks is contacted and given a list of the items we want to “tweak,” the official word is, we are done bargaining, then we get notice that 2 of the 5 items have been tweaked.  What the hell is that about?

We make it known that there will be leafletting, and suddenly there is even more tweaking.  A nice open bargaining process we have here.

We have fought long and hard to create some form of comp payments for JRD folks who are forced to stay in court longer than 5pm, Civil folks who must attend community meetings, etc.  No, we haven’t won – yet.  And now, we never will.

We can’t even toe the line on what we do have; any hope for progress is dashed to smithereens by the agreement to cancel the leafletting.  Wouldn’t want to embarrass the folks at the big house, now, would we.

We had them where we wanted them – THEY WERE ASKING US FOR A FAVOR. We should have given it ot hem ONLY when they made some progress.  Instead we allowed them to put value over some of our members but not all, and not equally.

What about real increases for the folks who have dedicated their lives to this organization and our clients?  What about keeping CABs personal days?  What about EQUALLY valuing the leaves of ALL of our members?

Congratulations, my ass.>>> Roy Wasserman 11/14 7:52 PM >>>

Jim, congrats.  If a mere threat to leaflet helped management find $250,000 extra money, just think of what we can accomplish if we actually ratchet up our organizing.  Management desparately must want to bring these negotiations to a close before the end of the year, and god forbid they get embarrassed by a bunch of flame throwing lawyers outside of their annual meeting!This is exactly what many of us were trying to convey to EB.  This is political realism.  Also, keep in mind that management reads this email and all others and therefore gets a pretty good pulse of our membership.  This is how they (and Oxford) knew that we were exploring Aetna, but that losing Oxford was probably a deal killer and that we were serious about it.  Oxford bulked and Management signed on with the Sloan sweetener.  We at Brooklyn CDD were told 2 weeks ago that the comp issue had no legs in EB b/c the non-CDD EB members were not interested.  Now it not only has legs, but it is driving much of the negotiation.  In other words, real gains are driven by membership.  Part of this is the email.   But we must be led by our leaders in order to harness our anger and concerns in a politcally beneficial fashion.  Next up:  1.)Retroactive pay instead of the lump sum; 2.) Membership on the Board by us and community/bar leaders; 3.) Caps on caseloads.   Let’s get started  preparing for more appropriate actions.  If you lead us, we will come.

>>> James Rogers 11/14 7:19 PM >>>
Management and the Board of Directors are prepared to agree to a mitigation of the comp time proposal that would put 250,000 per year in a fund to pay out the comp time for people on childcare leave or FMLA leave (10 months and 3 months respectively.)  In addition, those being paid out for such comp time would only be expected to pay what they currently pay in premiums for health care for the duration of those leaves.

An analysis of the past 4 fiscal years indicates that comp time paid to people on childcare leaves never exceeded the 250,000 and was often less.

The leafletting at the annual meeting would have made this agreement impossible and it was determined that the membership should have the ability to consider this change in the bargaining status.  Therefore, the event itself was called off.

The action committee will meet shortly to plan other actions as they may become necessary.

James Rogers
President
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys
(UAW 2325)(AFL-CIO)
568 Broadway  Room 702 A
New York NY 10012
212-343-0708

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