ALAA NewsOn behalf of the 1,200 members of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325, representing public defenders and indigent defense attorneys in New York City, Orange County, and Nassau County, New York, we voice our firmest solidarity with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee-IWW, the Free Alabama Movement, and all those incarcerated individuals and collectives who have taken up the call to strike to end prison-based slavery, the corporate greed that promotes it, and the institutionalized racism of the prison system. It is powerful actions like these, largely ignored by the mainstream media, that we proudly promote and support in every way possible. We have seen first hand the racist and brutal ways police and corrections officers mistreat members of our community, like our client, Eric Garner, as well as the conditions in which our clients languish in the atrocious Rikers Island facility and other carceral facilities in New York State. We note specifically the case of Kalief Browder who sadly took his life after the trauma of being imprisoned on Rikers Island awaiting trial for three years, of which he spent two in solitary confinement, became too much to bear. We also know the pennies paid for prison labor by multi-billion dollar companies like Whole Foods, McDonalds, and Walmart, is yet another despicable move by big business in their quest for cheap labor, to little benefit of those performing the work. It heartens us and strengthens our resolve to see this resistance brewing from the most difficult of organizing conditions.
As we move past the 40-year mark as a union, we look forward to continuing to serve our members and the people of New York City and Long Island. The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys , UAW Local 2325 represents the 800+ attorneys who work for the Legal Aid Society in the criminal, juvenile rights, and civil practices.
Despite the daily hardships that we face - struggling to provide quality representation while handling unconscionable caseloads coupled with inadequate levels of support staff and resources, not having the capacity to assist all that seek our help, struggling to make a living on lower wages than the private sector while strapped with high levels of educational debt - we fight every day with pride on behalf of the neediest of New Yorkers.
Equal access to justice is an important issue for labor. As attorneys, we see every day the adversity low-income New Yorkers face when they confront the legal system on their own, without the aid of a trained legal advocate. We see this in the many forums in which we appear as Legal Aid staff attorneys for our civil clients: housing court, civil court, welfare centers, unemployment offices, administrative hearings for administrative benefits ranging from food stamps and federal disability benefits to welfare and Medicaid. We see this in State and Federal courts. We represent New Yorkers on matters involving housing, homelessness, benefits, disabilities, family law, domestic violence, prisoner’s rights, reentry, elder law, consumer law, foreclosure, immigration, employment, tax law, and health law.