Queens Defenders Staff Announce Union Drive
Staff attorneys and social workers at Queens Defenders (QD) this week announced their intent to join the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys - UAW Local 2325 by filing an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board. QD provides criminal defense and related services for indigent clients in Queens. The almost seventy staff members are composed of criminal defense attorneys, immigration attorneys, licensed social workers, and law graduates. QD staff expressed their desire to avoid a lengthy National Labor Relations Board election, and instead begin directly bargaining with management immediately after voluntary recognition of their union. If Queens Defenders staff successfully unionize, it will mark the first time in twenty-five years that the majority of public defender agencies in New York City are unionized.
Ninety percent of eligible QD staff members have signed cards to show their support for unionization. The staff members’ concerns include health and safety, organizational transparency, fair compensation, diversity in hiring and management, and a high standard of client representation. QD’s union drive comes at a time of intensified organizing to improve working conditions for public service professionals, who are often compensated significantly less than their private-sector counterparts. Read more here.