All they want for Xmas is a fair contract


A unit of legal aid workers at the nonprofit Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) protested outside their employer’s Downtown LA office at lunchtime on Tuesday, December 19, and were joined by labor and community allies including Assemblyman Miguel Santiago.  

The unit’s 40 workers include attorneys, legal assistants and administrative staff in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco offices. The newly organized staff joined AFSCME about a year ago and began bargaining soon afterward.  

The organization’s director, Suzanne McCormick, has been hostile to their proposals for better wages and benefits, including paid parental leave, and simple respect on the job.  In turn, she has actually proposed to reduce or eliminate protections that they already have, such as paid jury duty service. 

“Unfortunately, ICWC management has failed to respond to our just demands after 10 months of bargaining,” Reilly Burleigh-Andrews, an Administrative Aide in the San Francisco office, said. 

The workers decided to ratchet up the pressure on their employer by taking their fight to a busy street corner in full view of the community.  Aside from Assemblyman Santiago, they have received valuable support from elected officials including LA City Councilman Jose Huizar, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Congressman Jimmy Gomez. In addition, clergy and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, and a number of other unions have joined the effort to win justice for these workers.  

The mission of ICWC is to offer affordable legal counsel to low-income immigrants, such as in domestic violence cases. The workers, many of whom are themselves from immigrant families, are proud of the services they provide -- but this time, they are fighting for their own rights and respect.