STAFF AT NEW YORK LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP ANNOUNCE UNION DRIVE

For Immediate Release

Contact: Alexi Shalom, 347-417-1715, ashalom@alaa.org

STAFF AT NEW YORK LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP ANNOUNCE UNION DRIVE

Staff members call on NYLAG managers to recognize their union and begin bargaining immediately

New York, NY — Staff members at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) today announced their intent to join the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325.  Over 200 attorneys, paralegals, financial counselors, and administrative staff make it possible for NYLAG to provide legal services across New York City to lower- and middle-income clients facing deportation, eviction, domestic abuse, employment discrimination, termination of public benefits, predatory debt collection practices, and many other hardships. NYLAG represents its clients free of charge.

On Thursday afternoon, staff members from each of NYLAG’s practice areas met with NYLAG’s management and announced their intent to unionize. An overwhelming majority of NYLAG staff members have signed cards to show their support for unionization. The staff members’ concerns include diversity in hiring, transparency, fair compensation, effective supervision, training, and opportunities for professional development. The staff also hope to encourage changes to case staffing that maximize NYLAG’s ability to advocate for clients, as the organization grows to meet surging demand for its services.

 

“NYLAG does incredible work,” said Rogelio Tec Moo, Tenants’ Rights Unit Paralegal. “In my unit, for example, we are the front lines of preventing eviction and homelessness throughout New York City. Yet our work can only go so far without proper training materials, fair case management systems, and adequate pay for our paralegals–a salary that hits the same range as other unionized legal service providers. Our union will support our attorneys’ work too by giving them a say in the number of cases they must handle.”

 

“The inadequate healthcare and workplace protections we receive as employees at NYLAG distract us from our roles as advocates for our clients,” said Alejandra Caraballo, an attorney in the LGBTQ Law Unit. “Having access to full comprehensive healthcare and livable wages for all staff would allow us to focus on our work with clients.”

Ervis Burda, Senior Financial Counselor, remarked, “As advocates and staff who are on the ground, interacting with and fighting for our clients on a daily basis, we are best positioned within our organization to understand our clients’ needs and identify the tools and resources required to protect their interests. We should be a part of the discussion about how to allocate limited resources and ensure NYLAG remains an organization that elevates and protects our clients’ interests first. We want what our management wants: to be the best we can be in the work we do, fighting for underserved populations throughout New York. An engaged workforce that feels valued and respected is fundamental to that goal.”

 

“We enthusiastically welcome the New York Legal Assistance Group to join the thousands of non-profit and legal services workers around the country in our union family. Unionization in Legal Services is not only critical to the empowerment of union members, but to the improvement of client representation,” said Jared Trujillo, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325. “We call on NYLAG management to immediately recognize the overwhelming desire of its employees to join together in a union.”

NYLAG’s union drive comes at a time of intensified organizing to improve working conditions for public service professionals, who are often compensated significantly less than their private-sector counterparts. Workers from other nonprofit legal service providers, such as Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and CAMBA Legal Services, have recently won union recognition.

 

If their union is recognized, the staff members at the New York Legal Assistance Group will join the 1,300 members of ALAA who are employed at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, The Legal Aid Society of New York City, Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, Federal Defenders of New York, The Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Youth Represent, and CAMBA Legal Services.  ALAA – UAW Local 2325 is the nation’s oldest union of attorneys and legal workers.