In New York City, legal aid attorneys and support workers are responsible for providing legal advice to low-income tenants facing eviction served by the Legal Aid Society and Legal Services, agencies non-profit that contracts with the city to provide these services. These workers are members of United Auto Workers (UAW) locales 2325 and 2320, respectively. Legal Aid and Paralegals are the lowest paid attorneys and paralegals in New York City, which is among the most expensive cities in the world.
Legal Aid Lawyers have been without a contract for four months, under conditions of insufficient pay and overwork due to the forceful eviction of tenants due to the epidemic and its economic consequences. Legal Services employees are working under an existing contract that is not subject to a raise. None of these critical issues were addressed by the UAW. This is despite the fact that the city still adheres to the rules regarding both.
The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 greatly increased the lack of previous homes. As the economic impact of the pandemic intensified, an increasing number of working-class families were unable to pay their monthly rent. To prevent the inevitable social explosion, the state of New York imposed a temporary ban on evictions for non-payment of rent.
However, when the ruling class is able to spend billions of dollars on the rescue and rush to release its “free” policy in order to contain the COVID and encourage people to work, the ban will be lifted. evict in January 2022. The result is a tidal wave of eviction proceedings initiated by landlords against tenants who are not entitled to such financial relief. However, they are still suffering from the negative effects of the epidemic, including rising inflation and rent, and the lack of advice has left many victims powerless to protest against the authorities. expensive rules of owners.
In 2017, more than two years before the epidemic began, New York City passed the Right to Counsel law, which established a legal target for low-income tenants. -money that is about to be fired. The Fair Advocacy Report for Fiscal Year 2021 boasted that since early 2020, 100 percent of tenants with calendar eviction cases have accessed legal services. A reported 71 percent of tenants who appeared in Housing Court were fully represented by attorneys, nearly double the pre-pandemic rate of 38 percent, and a significant increase from 1 percent of tenants had a lawyer in 2013.
But less than a year later, more than 17,000 tenants were threatened with eviction before landlords in court without lawyers, and on September 25, 6 percent Only a few of the evicted tenants went to court and had legal representation. Not surprisingly, this major move coincided with Democratic Governor Hochul’s lifting of the COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium through January 15, 2022, at the height of the Omicron epidemic. A federal moratorium has been lifted in August 2021, and all federal rental assistance has dried up.
Two months after the government’s moratorium was lifted, the understaffed Legal Aid and Justice Departments were overwhelmed by the burden of 80 clients each. According to reports Legal Aid and Legal Services is handling hundreds of eviction cases in one district after another. Another 500 cases could not be handled by the Justice Department in March. The Right to Counsel Act is a dead letter. 685,000 tenants in New York City owed rent when the Eviction Moratorium ended and 220,000 tenants have now been evicted.
In February, 6,000 eviction cases were filed. In March, 7,000 more eviction cases were filed, a 17 percent increase. The Legal Aid Society and the New York Legal Assistance Group stopped taking new cases in Queens on April 5. Legal Services New York City said they could only take 60 cases in Queens for April , and they said they should reduce their cases. in the Bronx in March. The Office of Court Administration reported that Legal Services refused to accept more than 475 cases in the Bronx in March.
According to government data while 98 percent of landlords have legal counsel in eviction cases, only 36 percent of tenants have representation. Additionally, judges do not inform jurors of their right to counsel. The result was that New York City’s tenants’ Right to Counsel law was systematically violated without effect.
On October 27, The City It published an article titled “Less than 10% of Tenants Facing Eviction Last Month Have an Attorney, Violating ‘Right to Counsel’ Law.” The article said, “More than 17,000 tenants did not have legal counsel in Housing Court cases brought by their landlords this year, according to new government figures.” The data was compiled from records by federal court and analyzed by the advocacy group Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.In addition, they reported that weekly case rates have reached their highest level since the beginning of the Over the past six months, there have been approximately 2,100 new eviction cases filed by landlords each week.
This plight of working-class tenants has hit the legal profession hard.
The UAW office, including the UAW Members United Slate that supports Shawn Fain in the current election, is running former Harvard graduate student union president Brandon Mancilla as the head of Region 9A , Local 2325, said little and did little about violations of the law. The Right to Legal Counsel and the heavy workload placed on legal practitioners. There was no mention of this conflict in the election debate between Mancilla and Beverley Brakeman, the current UAW Region 9A Director. Corinthia Carter, president of the Legal Services Workers Union, UAW Local 2320, is in a similar position, saying, “I think it’s going to get worse if people don’t do anything they can.” “
Legal Aid’s contract with city officials and the administration of Democratic Mayor Eric Adams expired four months ago on July 1. Legal Aid said they only started negotiations on September 21. Since then, there has been a long silence.
Historically, Legal Aid attorneys’ starting salaries are generally below the salaries of attorneys employed by the city’s Corporation Counsel (i.e., city employees). This equal pay gap continues year after year, and public defenders have been reduced by nearly 50 percent in their 10 years of service. On June 14, 2019, in response to previous requests for compensation and litigation during the 2018 contract negotiations, the City Council and then-mayor Bill de Blasio said that ” fundraiser” to raise money for public and public defenders. Legal services staff and that of Corporate Counsel by 2024.
The Adams administration focused on this “financial stability.” While the mayor, a former police officer, is beefing up the police department with massive budget increases, he has left other city agencies and contractors to fight over dwindling budgets. budget of the city. The mayor is pushing for 3 percent cuts in most city offices this year, on top of those already implemented.
The UAW has given no indication that it will fight to meet the 2019 commitment. Nor has there been any discussion of the severity of the labor shortages and the ongoing failure of the Right to Counsel Act. The disputes between local members of the rates currently in charge of the national election of UAW officers have avoided discussion of these local issues or of the larger issues raised in national competition.
Members of UAW Locals 2325 and 2320 must assess the problem of layoffs in New York City and the UAW’s failure to fulfill its obligations to its members in the context of the ongoing conflict. going now in the union to corruption, to control itself. These corrupt contracts were imposed for decades. This is the case in the contract wars of graduate student assistants at Columbia and NYU and the current strike by HarperCollins workers, all members of the UAW.
Will Lehman, a second-level worker at Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pennsylvania, is running for president of the UAW on a campaign to eliminate management and return power to the rank and file. all workplaces. He proposed that the workers form leadership committees to conduct a united struggle across all industries and institutions to win what the workers want, not what the employers can afford. .
UAW members currently have until Nov. 18 to return their ballots. The Lehman project has sent a letter to the federal auditor alleging wrongdoing 30-day extension so many UAW members have yet to vote. For more information on the campaign and to help build leadership committees and files, visit WillForUAWPresident.org