MFJ Update to staff Union strike

NEW YORK – Since December 2023, Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) has been consistently engaged in good faith efforts to address the legitimate requests made by LSSA Local 2320, the union representing MFJ’s staff, while also prioritizing MFJ’s ability to continue serving underprivileged New Yorkers in need of free legal representation. MFJ is a nonprofit largely funded by the city and state. Meeting all of the union’s demands would jeopardize the organization’s ability to meet its fiscal responsibilities. MFJ has been transparent with the union regarding our financial information, including our projected deficits. More than three months into the negotiations, the union continues to demand double-digit salary increases that would financially destabilize the organization.

  • On February 9, 2024, prior to a one-sided deadline set by the union, MFJ presented a fair and reasonable contract offer, including material salary increases and a hybrid work environment.
  • Two weeks later, on February 23, the union voted to strike.
  • The union did not present management with a counteroffer until March 26—more than 6 weeks after MFJ’s February 9 offer —all while falsely claiming that management was not bargaining in good faith.
  • MFJ proposed that the parties engage a professional mediator assigned to the labor dispute by the federal government but is still waiting for the union to agree to mediation, which they have so far declined to do.

Tiffany Liston, MFJ Executive Director, said, “We are extremely disappointed by the union’s actions distorting the truth and unwillingness to resolve the dispute. Our proposal includes pay increases designed to achieve better pay parity within MFJ, and reasonable increases to account for past inflation, putting MFJ’s compensation package near the top end of nonprofit legal services organizations. The proposal also includes a flexible work environment, improvements to life/work balance for all employees, and increased parental leave. As we considered these increases and improvements, we also committed to not compromise our ability to protect poor, low-income and disabled New Yorkers who depend on our work, often for their very survival.”

MFJ’s contract offer provides for generous salary increases, directed at MFJ’s lowest paid staff, including:

  • Front office/support staff salary increases between 9.45% and 24.92% over three years, with increases ranging from 9% to 11% in the first year of the contract, depending on years of experience.
  • Paralegal salary increases between 6.12% and 20.32%, with first year contract increases between 4% and 5%.
  • Law graduate salary increase of over 23%.
  • Staff attorney salary increases between 6.12% and 21.88%, depending on years of experience.
  • $2,750 annual bonus for paralegals and support staff who provide in-house translation services.
  • $3,500 bonus for front office/support staff to work in-office providing client support, receptionist, and other services.

The other non-salary benefits and life/work balance offered by MFJ include:

  • Lump sum bonus to each staff member
  • 100% Employer-paid healthcare premiums, including reimbursement for most out-of-pocket costs, despite the fact that health insurance premiums increased an unprecedented 29% this year, which MFJ did not pass on to staff.
  • Paid parental leave expanded from 12 to 15 weeks and 6 months of healthcare coverage.
  • Early 2:00 p.m. closure for 10 Fridaysfrom Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Five weeks of paid leave for law graduates who fail the bar exam to study for the next exam, as well as increased reimbursement of bar prep expenses up to $3,000.
  • Bereavement leave—fully paid—expanded to seven days for all categories of persons lost, and expanded to cover a loss due to a miscarriage.
  • Organizational contribution of 7.5% of each employee’s salary to their 403(b) retirement benefits, regardless of their own contribution.
  • Flexible workday, with a start time as early as 7:00 a.m. and end time as early as 3:00 p.m.
  • Hybrid work schedule enabling remote work two days a week.
  • Continuation of 28 paid days off and 14 holidays a year, which also enables staff to take additional paid days off for various life circumstances.

“We are grateful to our supervising and managing attorneys who are supporting MFJ’s clients during this strike. We encourage the union to reconsider the generosity of MFJ’s offer, especially in light of the organization’s current fiscal realities. Our many clients need us, and this prolonged strike is not benefiting them,” continued Liston.