Legal Aid Bureau votes to affiliate with labor union


Lawyers and legal assistants at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau voted yesterday to recognize the National Organization of Legal Services Workers as their labor union, in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

The vote was 100 to 71, according to union supporters.

Union organizers cited higher pay and employee participation in case management as goals in seeking affiliation with the NOLSW, which has units in 30 other states.

The NLRB certified 176 employees at the 14 state offices of the bureau, which represents low-income clients, as eligible to vote.

Two previous efforts by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to organize Maryland Legal Aid employees in the 1970s failed. The NOLSW is an affiliate of the United Auto Workers.

Efforts to form a union began a year ago, after employees went nearly two years without a raise, organizers said. Management refused to recognize the union, which presented authorization cards signed by over half the work force, resulting in a petition to the NLRB to hold the representation election.

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