ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

November 22, 2011

2011.11.22: Waiting for Answers Regarding EB Action

From: [M.]
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:59 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Waiting for Answers Regarding EB Action

George-

I wrote yesterday to give the EB an opportunity to put our union house in order by explaining its irregular actions.  There is no shame in this, because we all make mistakes.

As you know, these days, I usually stay out of these types of discussions, attempting, usually successfully, to confine my LAS activities solely to the practice of law.  But as a former officer of ALAA I feel obliged to respectfully object to the EB’s violation of three fundamental union values: Transparency, Open and Fair Process and Respect for Seniority.  Some of you have mocked these objections, which is your right, but these values have served us well in my twenty-five years in ALAA.

Not to belabor the obvious, but the EB took a very debatable position — distributing the money in a lump sum instead by percentage of salary — and did so without any notice to the members or any solicitation of the members’ views and further voted to withhold this issue from the membership and to bypass the Joint Council.  This was neither transparent nor an open and fair process.  We can and should do better, and this is a very bad harbinger as we head into what looks like a tough bargaining season.

Regarding the embrace of a uniform lump sum, anti-union employers all over the country use this tactic to attack the principle of union seniority. Our EB should not have joined their ranks.

This is particularly unfair in this instance because no small amount of the money at issue is health care savings.  Over the years, a great deal of salary has been diverted to health care.  That money was contributed by the members by percentage of salary, not in uniform lump sums.  So, if all the money is not needed, it should be returned to the members in the proportion it was given.

I know math is scary, but the point is simple:  If 1% of salary is diverted into health care premiums, a lawyer making $60,000 lost $600 in salary and a lawyer making $100,000 lost $1000.  If only half of the 1% is needed, in all fairness, $300 should be returned to the first lawyer and $500 to the second, not $400 to each.

Essentially, the EB has made a redistributive value judgment that our most junior lawyers are more deserving of the extra money than the senior ones.

Last week, [E.] wrote to [R.] and acknowledged that a 11-9 majority chose to first decide and then withhold this issue from the membership on the ground that union democracy on this question would be too “‘divisive” and if we don’t like it, “we can throw the bums out.”  Fair enough, but the problem is that it is a secret who the eleven are.  Maybe the eleven people who made this decision for everyone else could have the integrity and courage to step up and tell us who you are?  If you eleven believe that your actions were righteous, then own up to them and explain yourselves.

Finally, and I apologize for the length of this, but it is far from clear that the EB’s action is consistent with the UAW Constitution, which does not contain an EB structure, favoring instead open meetings.  If I remember correctly from the time of affiliation, I thought the EB’s actions were only constitutional to the extent they were ratified by the JC.  Can the EB even call for and structure a vote of the membership on its own?  So, in dispensing with our customary open process, the EB may be opening itself up, most unnecessarily, to a grievance on this matter with our parent union.

Thanks in advance for considering, or even ignoring, my views, as the case may be.

 

________________________________________

From: [M.]

Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 6:59 AM

To: MEMBERS

Subject: RE: Schedule of Union Meetings

George-

You mentioned in the original e-mail announcing the EB’s action that part of the money is a transition payment in connection with the payroll change and part of the money is savings from Oxford.  To get a handle on what people are talking about, what is the total pie at issue?

How much is payroll transition money?

How much is health care savings?

Was expert accounting advice sought?

Whose idea/motion was it to transfer some of the money from the senior steps to the junior ones?

What was the vote?

Why wasn’t notice given to the membership of this proposed action?

Was legal advice sought on whether the EB even has the authority to do this?

Thanks in advance for the info,

________________________________________

From: Albro, George

Sent: Sunday, November 20, 2011 6:13 PM

To: ALAA MEMBERS

Subject: Schedule of Union Meetings

Here is the list of ALAA meetings to discuss the payroll change issue, to be voted on Dec. 6th by the membership:

Nov. 21    1 PM    Manhattan CDP

Nov. 28    1 PM    199 Water Street (all members)

Nov. 28    4 PM    HCLO

Nov. 29    1 PM    Bronx CDP

Nov. 29    4 PM    Bronx Civil

Nov. 30    1 PM    Staten Island (all Divisions)

Dec. 1      1 PM    Bklyn JRP, BNO, BOFTA

Dec. 2      1 PM    Queens JRP

Dec. 5      1 PM    Queens CDP and Civil

Please call (212-343-0708) or write to schedule the remaining offices. Thanks.

George

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