This has been a difficult year for NOLSW members who work in legal services programs across the nation. From New Jersey, to New Mexico, to Oregon, state governments have cut the amount of funding that is available for civil legal services for low income people. In May, Congress cut the 2011 appropriation to the Legal Service Corporation (LSC) by 4%, as well as cutting HUD and other programs that fund our work.
Legal Services programs all around the country have been struggling to survive these significant local, state and federal funding cuts. In many programs, our NOLSW brothers and sisters have faced layoffs, reduced work schedules, salary freezes and other financial concessions as a result of these budget cuts. Now Congress is proposing even more cuts for 2012.
The Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted a 2012 budget that includes an additional $104 million cut in LSC funding, which equates to a 26% decrease. A cut of this magnitude would strike a crushing blow to legal services programs all over the country. There is little doubt that if these cuts were to go into effect, NOLSW members will face additional layoffs, salary cuts and reductions in benefits.
We must take action now to preserve and expand Legal Services! Working together with the UAW Legislative office and our friends in the legal services community we can make our voice be heard in support of continued funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
During the month of August, members of Congress will be back in their home states and districts. We need to make sure that our Representatives and Senators know the vital role that civil legal services play in improving the lives of low and moderate income people throughout the nation. NOLSW/UAW Local 2320 President Gordon Deane urges every NOLSW member to participate by making phone calls, writing letters, attending and speaking out at town hall meetings, and scheduling District Office meetings with your Representatives and Senators during the August recess.
- In the House, we especially want to meet with moderate Republicans who voted against the Duncan amendment earlier this year, which would have cut LSC funding altogether. We want them to oppose any further cuts to LSC and to support an increase if an amendment is offered. Attached is a list of those Republicans, as well as those who voted against a proposed amendment in 2009 to eliminate LSC funding.
- In the Senate, we're asking that the Senators support the President's budget request of $450 million for LSC in FY 2012. We may not get this number, but we want to push for as large a number as possible so that, when the appropriation bill goes to conference committee, there is room to compromise. Attached is a letter signed by 34 Senators supporting the $450 million for LSC--be sure to thank your Senator if they've signed.
There is much at stake in this campaign. In many cases our salaries, benefits and our very jobs are put in jeopardy by additional cuts to the LSC budget. Equally important, the entire concept of civil legal services for low and moderate income people is put at risk by further budget cuts. Your Regional Organizers will be contacting you in the next few days to help organize and coordinate our efforts in this important campaign.
Together we can make our voice be heard. I hope that each and every member of NOLSW will do what they can in order to PRESERVE AND EXPAND Legal Services for the poor!
- Do NOT use LSC Program Resources to Lobby Members of Congress -