Unions Call on NYC Courts to Halt Reopening Plans
This week a coalition of legal services unions, tenants, community organizations, and elected officials sent a letter to the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) and Governor Hochul urging them to halt plans that would force litigants and attorneys into New York City’s Housing Courts while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put communities in danger of sickness and death. The coalition cited poor ventilation, narrow hallways, and lack of safety planning as evidence that housing courts are “among the most dangerous places in New York City." Legal services workers, chiefly represented by the UAW, have been representing tenants throughout the pandemic, primarily through remote appearances.
In August the court administration announced a plan to return to mandatory in person court appearances, which the unions, tenants, and electeds argued would only put people's health and lives at risk. Simultaneous with the release of the coalition letter, two Legal Services Staff Association/UAW 2320 members who work as attorneys representing tenants in housing court published an op-ed in The Daily News calling on the housing courts to remain closed to mandatory in-person appearances.