Federal funding for Legal Services is under attack once again. We have faced this problem before, and have beaten it back every time. It will take the mobilization of our members, calling their Congressional representatives, holding rallies in targeted cities with good publicity efforts, and building a broad coalition of organizations in the Legal Services community and beyond. We stopped Ronald Reagan’s attempt to eliminate LSC in the 80’s, we stopped Newt Gingrich and his “Contract on America” gang in the 90’s, and we will stop them again in the 10’s.
The good news is that we have strong support in the Senate, and a history of a bipartisan consensus that includes a significant number of Republicans. The new House of Representatives will be challenging terrain for us, but we still have many friends there. The focus on the House side will be to minimize the proposed cuts. The focus on the Senate side will be to counter those cuts with higher figures that will position us well when the bill goes to conference.
Our union plays a unique role in the struggle to preserve and expand federal funding for legal services. The other entities such as NLADA are not plugged into a large base of union members like we are. We have a well-funded political action arm, and labor’s get-out-the-vote organization at election time is unrivalled. The fact that we are a part of the UAW has given us the much-needed clout to prevail in previous years, and it will be a critical factor in our favor again this time.
We are working now to finalize a list of key members in the House upon whom we will focus our immediate attention, coordinating our work with the UAW Legislative Office in D.C. We will be calling upon our membership to make phone calls, visit district offices, and organize rallies in key districts. We will also organize more of membership to become active participants in V-CAP. And we will be organizing “Rapid Response” teams in key Congressional districts.
The next several months promise to be a period of intense activity. It will require time and focused effort by our members. But we are not alone, and we are not without experience in this fight. Please be checking our website at www.nolsw.org regularly for more information. If you are not already signed up for our national email list, please go to the website and register now.
Together we will prevail!