Legal Aid Bureau faces NLRB charges

February 25, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

The National Labor Relations Board said yesterday that it has charged the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau Inc. with unfair labor practices.

In a complaint filed Friday, the NLRB charged that the free legal service changed employee benefits without the agreement of the union that represents most of its attorneys and paralegals.

William W. Thompson II, a Washington attorney who is representing the approximately 170 members of the Maryland Legal Aid WorkersUnion, said some members also believe managers are dragging their feet in negotiating the nonprofit bureau's first contract with the union. The workers voted to have the union represent them in 1991.

Joseph K. Pokempner, an attorney representing Legal Aid, which provides free lawyers for low-income Marylanders in civil matters, said yesterday the management had done nothing wrong and will fight the complaint in administrative court.

The NLRB charged that Legal Aid managers:

* Took away three personal holidays in November and December of1992 that management had granted employees for a number of years, changing conditions of employment without union negotiations.

* Capped the lifetime amount any individual could claim from health insurance to $1 million, also without the union's agreement.

* Used a subterfuge to reduce the number of employees that would be eligible for union membership by calling some newly hired lawyers "supervisory attorneys."

"My impression is the that the leadership in the bureau does not believe in collective bargaining," Mr. Thompson said.

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