MFY Legal Services Staff Declare One-Day Strike in Protest


Amy Hammersmith, LSSA President: 215-285-8305,
Anamaria Segura, LSSA MFY Vice President: 718-514-1680,

MFY Legal Services Staff Declare One-Day Strike in Protest

NEW YORK, NY, JANUARY 12, 2015—The unionized staff of MFY Legal Services, Inc. have declared a one-day strike in protest of management’s disrespectful and shortsighted contract bargaining demands.

MFY has enjoyed unprecedented fiscal growth as a result of the outstanding work of its committed and hardworking attorneys, paralegals and support staff. However, MFY’s management, and its board, led by Robert Harwood (of Harwood Feffer LLP), has chosen not to reward this work with meaningful salary raises, fair benefits, or equitable treatment of its support staff.

Instead, they have offered paltry raises that do not keep up with the cost of living in New York City, and stubbornly refuse to offer meaningful parental leave without demanding drastic give-backs from staff. As the only legal services provider of its size that provides no paid parental leave, MFY forces its employees to cobble together sick and vacation time, take unpaid leave without health insurance benefits, or forgo the decision to have children until they find a new employer. Among other anti-family demands, MFY’s management has proposed eliminating same-sex domestic partners from MFY’s health coverage, limiting the accrual of sick days so that it will not have to take care of staff members who become terminally ill, and restricting the eligibility of staff members’ children for health insurance coverage. MFY management also refuses to discuss fair compensation for our underappreciated support staff.

MFY’s staff are represented by the Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA), part of the United Auto Workers Local 2320, a “wall-to-wall” union made up of secretaries, paralegals, receptionists, process servers, social workers, attorneys and other non-management employees. LSSA members serve low-income families, people with disabilities, and seniors in every New York City borough in civil legal matters including housing, public benefits, family, employment, consumer, mental health, and foreclosure. LSSA is fighting for a contract that ensures high quality legal services through retention of senior staff and the maintenance of a diverse, family-friendly workplace.

Amy Hammersmith, LSSA President, said, “MFY’s bargaining positions undermine long-term employment, pushing senior staff towards other employers who value their experience. Without these seasoned senior staff to mentor and train new staff, MFY’s clients will suffer most.”
David Ureña, staff attorney for MFY’s Workplace Justice Project and LSSA member, observed that “there is no good reason bargaining negotiations can’t be cooperative. We hope management reconsiders its adversarial and obstructionist approach. It is not to the organization’s benefit to alienate its staff or sow distrust and resentment.”

MFY’s unionized staff will vote on MFY’s contract offer on January 30, 2015. If the offer is rejected, members will go out on strike. MFY’s unionized staff sincerely hope that a strike is not necessary to secure a fair contract that provides financial security and otherwise supports their efforts to provide high quality legal services to communities across New York. However, if necessary, the staff is prepared to fight for the future of legal services in New York City.