The Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit providing public defense to low-income Bronx residents, announced its intent to join the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys -UAW Local 2325 on May 29.
After an overwhelming majority of its office signed cards indicating support for unionization, it is calling for The Bronx Defenders management to recognize the union and begin bargaining immediately.
BxD worker, Maryann Rosa, has been a civil legal advocate at The Bronx Defenders for over a year. Rosa felt the high turnover due to many structural issues, unmanageable caseloads, problems with paid time off and insufficient support have hurt their quality of work. Therefore, unionizing will help them and their clients. .
“I had high hopes for working in my community at this holistic public defender office, but I’ve now found that there is demoralizing for us,” Rosa said. “With our Union, we can collectively address these concerns and make The Bronx Defenders a more just and equitable workplace. I ask that The Bronx Defenders voluntarily recognizes our Union to bring workers’ voices to the table in order to shift the culture of our organization for the better and ultimately to enhance our innovative approach to holistic defense for my Bronx community.”
They have fought alongside Bronx families whose safety is jeopardized by policing, family separation, housing insecurity, unemployment, jail building and other systemic injustices.
A borough that is already ravaged by financial instabilities and poverty and many not paying rent during COVID-19, Bronxites need The Bronx Defenders more than ever.
In order to realize its vision of a better Bronx Defenders, it demands the following:
- to take bolder positions and actions to fight alongside Bronx families against economic oppression, the prison industrial complex, and state-sponsored violence
- hiring, promotion, and workplace policies that prioritize employees who are Black, Latinx, people of color, queer and trans people and Bronx locals
- just compensation and better benefits for our workers as they work towards decarceration, family unification, housing security, and economic justice
- A worker-centered power structure, which is necessary for client-centered representation, and employee-elected representation on the board of The Bronx Defenders
- dignity and respect for all workers, regardless of identity or role in the office
Ultimately, its goal is to fight for the people of the Bronx and join them the nation’s oldest public defenders’ union.