Historic Contract Furthers the Union’s Demands for Pay Equity for Non-Attorney Workers, COVID-19 Office Safety Plan, Permanent Remote Work Policies, and Fair Wage Increases for All Staff
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – The unionized staff of Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) voted Friday, February 26, 2021, to ratify a new three-year contract to run from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023. Through hard bargaining and unified shop actions, shop members obtained a contract that furthers shop priorities including racial justice in the workplace, safety during the pandemic, flexibility to work from home, and increased equity in financial compensation.
“We are happy that we have been able to get a contract that recognizes some of the significant experience of legal workers,” said Reisy Veloz, a paralegal in MFJ’s Housing Unit. “We want to be able to retain experienced staff because our clients deserve that, and with a fair contract, we can do that. We look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues to help New Yorkers during this difficult time.”
“I am grateful for the actions of the entire shop, and the elected representatives and community members who backed us up,” said Rafaella “Ella” Abeo, Executive Secretary and member of the union’s Bargaining Team. “That solidarity and support ultimately pushed management at the negotiation table.”
The contract includes several provisions reflecting the shop’s priority to further racial justice at work. In past contracts, paralegals and support staff were not adequately credited for past experience. This section of the workforce is predominantly women of color, and they were systematically underpaid. The new contract increases salaries of existing MFJ legal workers and support staff and ensures future hires will be given fair pay. Support staff who assist clients in languages besides English will receive a $2,000 bonus under the CBA. The contract also includes re-hiring guarantees and severance for employees whose eligibility to work relies on DACA, in the event that program is suspended or lapses.
The contract addresses the shop’s priority of workplace safety amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. MFJ will not continue in-person work until the state of emergency is lifted and a joint labor-management committee creates a return to office plan. The contract specifies management’s obligation to create a safe and healthy work environment, including providing personal protective equipment.
The shop made strides in its goals to respect employee flexibility to work from home. By effectively representing clients during the pandemic, all staff, including legal workers and support staff, now have a permanent contractual right to work from home one day per week. For the year after the office reopens, staff will have an additional work from home day each month.
Finally, the shop obtained a 2% salary increase each year, and an increase in matching retirement savings to 7.5% of salary, up from 7%.
The MFJ shop is part of Legal Services Staff Association Local 2320, the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, and UAW Region 9A.