On 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.
We are no strangers to strikes, indeed, militant strikes and walkouts were some of our union’s foundational actions. We also are familiar with the amazing history of prison resistance, both at Attica and San Quentin, but also in New York City itself. Our clients, and incarcerated people as a whole, have stood with us many times, and so we must stand with them. In our 1973 strike that guaranteed continuity of representation, inmates in the Brooklyn Men’s House of Detention refused to leave their cells in support of our strike, while inmates in the Manhattan Tombs wrote a statement of support for our actions. We know too well that solidarity, a central precept of unionism, must not only be our collective desire, but our necessity. We will continue to support wholeheartedly those whom we are legally, ethically and morally bound to serve – both in the courtroom and on the streets.
We encourage our members and allies to attend all rallies and actions in support of the prison strike, as well as to donate to organizing efforts here: https://iwoc.noblogs.org/donate/. We also call on fellow UAW locals to educate, agitate, and organize their members in support of this important and pressing human rights issue.
Victory to the Prison Strike! End Mass Incarceration and Slave Labor in Prisons! An Injury to One is an Injury to All!
Unanimously Resolved, Executive Board of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325