As members of the Legal Workers Rank and File, we agree to the following principles
We organize together to build a more democratic and just world, one free of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, and any other form of oppression. We fight not just for the rights of legal service workers, but for the rights of the poor and working class that have been neglected by the American legal system. The American legal system systematically disenfranchises indigent individuals and families, with a disproportionate impact on people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ folks. We seek alternative models and systems that respect the human rights of all, rather than protect the interests of those who have money and property.
We believe that the labor movement can and should play a leading role in this project. Only rank and file workers, organized on a radically democratic basis, can accomplish this task. Our unions in the legal services sector are often hampered by a bureaucratic, limited approach to politics and organizing. We seek to build and strengthen our unions, to go beyond those limits.
Our greatest power as union members and workers is our ability to strike. We support all workers’ right to strike, including political strikes, wildcat strikes, solidarity strikes, and other direct actions on the shop floor. Our power lies in our ability to withhold our labor, and we stand in solidarity with striking workers anytime, anywhere.
As nonprofit workers, we provide essential services to the poor and working class New Yorkers we serve, but we recognize the limits of the nonprofit model. Our organizations are politically hamstrung by a restrictive funding structure and the influence of donors and unaccountable board members. Our bosses cannot organize for radical change because they are too entwined in this system. We support radical democracy in the workplace and believe the rank and file are best situated to meet our clients’ needs and organize with them for a better world.
To that end, we seek to create change through our position as rank and file workers and union members by preserving bottom up democracy and standing in solidarity with other unions and working class people.
We support the election of militant leadership that is accountable to the rank and file.
We support the use of our unions’ resources to bolster other rank and file-led actions in our city and globally.
Our strength is in our ability to work in coalition with all legal service workers, across job classification and title. All workers laboring within our institutions are entitled to respect within the LWRF.
We support non-union legal service organizations in their journey to organize a union in their workplace. We have seen how time and time again non-union and union shops are pitted against each other to create a competitive bidding environment that leads to a race to the bottom. To change the legal system, we must leverage our power together among all legal service workers.
We aim to build solidarity and a higher level of coordination between unions. The City and State use competitive bidding to pit legal services organizations against each other. LWRF sees worker democracy, solidarity, and coordinated bargaining as the keys to counteracting these pressures and building worker power.