AFT Washington shall establish a program to assist locals in resolving problems that may require retention of legal counsel. Strong emphasis shall be placed on early consultation between the local and AFT Washington regarding the problem. This consultation shall include but not be limited to consideration of the extent to which AFT Washington or other locals have experienced comparable problems, whether any such experience may be applicable to the present problem, and whether measures other than retention of legal counsel are possible or desirable. The program shall also provide financial assistance as outlined below to participating locals for legal costs incurred in trying to resolve the problem.
1.0 Participating Locals: Any local in good standing with AFT Washington and AFT may participate in this program. To qualify for financial assistance, a local:
- must consult with AFT Washington about a given problem prior to consulting with legal counsel,
- must agree to engage a participating attorney or law firm approved by AFT Washington leadership, if retention of legal counsel is appropriate,
- must allow AFT Washington leadership to negotiate the hourly fee rate or rates with the participating attorney or law firm, and
- must allow AFT Washington leadership to decide the extent to which AFT Washington will provide financial assistance in the matter.
2.0 Participating Attorneys and Law Firms: To participate in this program, an attorney or law firm must agree to provide hourly fee rates to locals that are lower than those generally available to the public. The attorney or law firm must also:
- provide separate billings to the AFT Washington and the participating local;
- authorize AFT Washington to use and disseminate legal documents generated by the case other than those protected by the attorney-client privilege;
- allow AFT Washington and/or officers to use within reason the attorney's or law firm's law library and legal resources; and
- assist the AFT Washington in providing relevant training for members of the staff, for locals, and for officers of AFT Washington.
3.0 Payment of Fees: Upon receipt of a direct billing from a participating attorney or law firm for AFT Washington's portion, AFT Washington shall pay the amount due.
4.0 Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs: In any legal action resulting in the award of attorneys' fees and costs to the local, the local or, if appropriate, the participating attorney or law firm, shall reimburse AFT Washington for the fees and costs paid in the case by AFT Washington.
1. The Legal Assistance Program
This program assists locals in resolving problems that may require retention of legal counsel. Strong emphasis is placed on early consultation between the local and AFT Washington regarding the problem. This consultation includes but is not limited to consideration of the extent to which AFT Washington or other locals have experienced comparable problems, whether any such experience may be applicable to the present problem, and whether measures other than retention of legal counsel are possible or desirable. The program provides financial assistance to participating locals for legal costs incurred in trying to resolve the problem.
2. Grants to Locals
Your local may be able to share legal expenses if grant eligibility requirements are met.
- Ask First.
If a local plans to seek a legal defense grant, the local needs to verify whether or not the legal case will be recommended for a grant by the AFT WA legal defense committee before the local incurs legal expenses.
- The Criteria
Not all legal actions qualify for AFT Washington & AFT legal defense grants.
The AFT Washington Legal Defense Committee will have to determine whether or not the legal case meets either of the following criteria:
- The legal action involves academic freedom, civil rights, or job-security rights.
- The legal action has a substantial impact on other locals.
3. Grants to AFT Washington Councils
If you are unsure whether or not a legal action will have impact on other locals and you need to spend funds for preliminary research consider a Legal Defense Grant to AFT Washington Councils. Ask your representative on an AFT Washington council to request a AFT Washington grants to councils. If preliminary work needs to be done to determine whether or not legal action should be taken, an AFT Washington council may request a grant for up to $1,500 in instances where the Council believes a legal case or question of law has substantial impact on locals within the Council.
Contact the AFT/WA Office about Legal Defense Grant Opportunities
If your local believes that a legal action meets the criteria for a legal defense grant, please contact the AFT Washington office.