Staff members are calling on SPP to recognize their union and begin bargaining immediately.
Manhattan, NY — Staff members at Safe Passage Project (“SPP”) announced their intent to join
the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 on Monday, March 16, 2020. The
staff at SPP supports immigrant youth throughout New York State in fighting their deportation.
Staff members are calling on SPP to immediately recognize their union after an overwhelming
majority signed cards in support. On Monday afternoon, a broad cross-section of employees
across roles—legal, social work, and administrative staff—announced their intent to unionize.
The lack of movement by the organization to address the needs of its workers, many of whom
are immigrants and first generation, stands in contrast with SPP’s mission of advocating for the
human rights of immigrant New Yorkers. SPP’s staff is unionizing to ensure that the needs of the
executive are not prioritized at the expense of its staff and clients.
The staff’s goals include: improving representation of our clients, implementing a justice-driven
mission that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, equitable compensation and benefits, and
increasing employee input and organizational transparency. Staff members believe that no
employee should face management alone.
Vanessa Castro-Mora, Social Worker, stated, “A union not only benefits its employees, but
benefits the young people and their families.”
“We need to ethically and zealously advocate for clients, and we cannot do that if we’re burned
out and without case caps,” said Arlette Herrera, Legal Clerk.
Alex Grant, Senior Staff Attorney, stated, “It is in everyone’s interest that each role in our
organization have representation at the table when decisions are being made.”
“On the legal front, the COVID-19 pandemic can only be addressed by a highly organized labor force which is willing and ready to confront the upcoming challenges,” said Jared Trujillo, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 23235, “By forming a union, the staff of Safe Passage have taken the first step in ensuring that in this and future crises their well-being and the well-being of their clients is prioritized.”
Union organizing among attorneys, legal services workers, and other professional employees has
increased in the last few years, as attorneys and staff at legal services organizations like
Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York Legal Assistance Group, and Center for
Family Representation have joined graduate teaching assistants at multiple universities, and
newsroom staff at media organizations around the country to improve working conditions in
their respective industries. If their union is recognized, the staff members at Safe Passage Project
will join the 1,600 members of ALAA who are employed at the Legal Aid Society of New York
City, the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, Federal Defenders of New York, The Legal Aid
Society of Orange County, Youth Represent, CAMBA Legal Services, Neighborhood Defender
Service of Harlem, New York Legal Assistance Group, Asian Americans for Equality, and the
Center for Family Representation. ALAA – UAW Local 2325 is the nation’s oldest union of
attorneys and legal workers.