Monday, June 21, 2010

Detroit Legal Aid Workers Demand Union Contract

Detroit legal aid workers demand union contract

By Kris Hamel
Published Jun 19, 2010 7:46 AM

Members of Local 2095 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees were joined by other unionists and community activists as they picketed their workplace on June 10. “Legal Aid, you should know, union busting has got to go!” and other chants could be heard outside the swanky offices of the Legal Aid and Defender Association Inc. in downtown Detroit.

Staff attorneys at LAD voted in June 2008 to form a union and have tried for two years to bargain in good faith for their first contract. These attorneys serve seniors and other poor residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and have not had their wages raised in five years. Some of the staff attorneys are still at their starting salary despite many years of experience. Meanwhile, according to the union, “LAD has received significant funding increases from its main funder, the Legal Services Corporation and Congress.

“LAD management spends the taxpayer dollars on its fancy new building and fine offices for top management, but refuses to hire additional attorneys, additional support staff or provide adequate funding for litigation. Our clients are hurting, as a result. These millions in taxpayer dollars are for the sole purpose of providing quality legal services to low-income persons ... but LAD management is using the funding to stuff its own pockets and pay for its expensive offices.”

The staff attorneys are demanding a standard union contract, a fair and equivalent wage increase and a new focus on providing improved and increased legal services to clients. Messages of support can be sent to
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