In response to a proposed resolution to be voted on by The Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA-UAW local 2325), the Legal Aid Society (LAS) released a public statement condemning the resolution and encouraging ALAA members to vote against this resolution. LAS management then held a town hall to influence voting on the resolution by informing members that several law firms threatened to pull funding should the union approve this resolution.
The Legal Aid Society chapter of ALAA (LAS – ALAA) denounces LAS management’s interference with union democracy.
Membership is our union’s highest authority. Each member has a voice and a vote in our democratic process. LAS management sought to interfere with that process in unprecedented ways by using intimidation and fear to influence the union vote. LAS management maligned our membership with baseless claims of antisemitism, an accusation that is especially offensive to the many Jewish members who support this resolution. We reject a zero-sum game mentality that states we cannot condemn violence against Palestinians without being inherently antisemitic.
Our union has a long tradition of taking a stand on important civil and human rights issues facing our communities at home and abroad. Injustice has no borders. From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid in South Africa, the UAW has stood for justice. We proudly continue in this tradition and rank and file members answered a call from trade unionists in Palestine for solidarity.
For fifty-four years, ALAA has fought to improve our working conditions so that our clients have quality representation. When employers move to weaken our workplace protections and drain our ranks of talented, experienced lawyers, and funders threaten to withdraw financial support, it is our clients, mostly Black and brown New Yorkers who suffer. If the firms attempting to silence the union’s political speech truly had our clients’ best interests at heart, they would do better to ensure Legal Aid’s funding remain intact and support us in dismantling the systems that continue to oppress them.
Despite attempts to interfere with our democratic process and regardless of the outcome of our union vote, our members will continue to defend our right to express ourselves on issues of public concern. We remain undeterred by these outrageous attacks, and demand that LAS focus its energy in fighting for the communities we serve and not attacking the workers who represent them.
–The Executive Board of the Legal Aid Society chapter of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys