UAW Members Get Free Lawyers—And They Ain't Giving Them Up for You

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
uaw members get free lawyers 8212 and they aint giving them up for you

The United Auto Workers (UAW) contracts are facing unprecedented public scrutiny. It could have something to with the fact that it’s now OUR money the automakers are pissing away—sorry, “lavishing upon” union members. Or it could be that the normally passive—sorry, “pro middle class” MSM’s smells blood in the union boss’ water. In any event, here’s one for working class heroes: free legal advice. The Freep: “Established in 1978, the UAW Legal Services Plan provides ‘personal legal services,’ to about 725k workers, spouses and retirees from several companies, according to the program’s Web site. It is the largest pre-paid legal services program in the country. Before I give the jumpers the inside dope (in a non Michael Phelps kinda way), you wanna guess how much 290 attorneys cost the Big 2.8 et al.? Seriously, you gotta guess. ‘Cause the Freep doesn’t even estimate the cost. Blood boiling? Ready for the jump then . . .

Three out of four autoworkers have used the legal services for a variety of purposes. In 2008, the letter said, that included:

Bankruptcy assistance: 9,392 UAW members, including 2,938 Ford members.

Divorce assistance: 6,899 members, including 1,924 Ford members.

Foreclosure assistance: 2,973, including 821 Ford members.

Real estate: 27,000, including 6,265 Ford members.

Now you could argue that the automakers agreed to this, let’s say, $50M boondoggle. So it’s not the union’s “fault” the shyster service exists. OK, sure, BUT—the UAW is “fighting to keep free legal services for its members.” That’s not what I’d call “shared sacrifice.” In fact, I’d say it’s a scam. Disagree? Sue me.

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  • No_slushbox No_slushbox on Feb 17, 2009
    picard234: 720,000 is the total amount of people receiving the benefit. There are only 192,000 active workers covered. Which is the really sick thing. All of the effort wasted on the bailout is saving at most 192,000 UAW jobs. For all the whining about millions of jobs, there are less than 192,000 Detroit automaker assembly workers working in this country (the 192,000 total includes some unionized suppliers and people directly employed by the UAW).

  • Dragonstar Dragonstar on Apr 02, 2009

    I used to work for the program as a lawyer for several years. Overall most of the lawyers that work there are pretty good at the kind of law they happen to practice. Most of the lawyers specialize in areas of law that consumers need. Whether it be probate administration, bankruptcy, small claims court for all sorts of collection matters, warranty law and about any other way that the general public tends to get raked over the coals by larger companies. The program is run as a stand alone program and the lawyers only represent the UAW members, they are not permitted to take any outside legal jobs at all. Contrary to earlier posts, there are no "foreign lawyers" that answer clients' questions. The program does also contract with outside "cooperating attorneys" but they are only used if the program does not cover a particular area of law, does not have a field office near the client or if the program has some conflict of interest that requires the use of outside counsel. Overall the program always seemed to work very well for those who used it. It gave people who otherwise might not be able to get good legal services access to it. If you want to see the quality of the legal work for yourself just look up the United States Supreme Court case of Till v. SCS Credit Corporation. It was a complicated bankruptcy issue in that case and in truth was an issue that, if the debtors lost, would have only cost them a couple hundred dollars more in their bankruptcy case. The UAWLSP won that case and saved the money for those clients and EVERY OTHER person who has filed bankruptcy since. If the UAWLSP did not take that case to the Supreme Court the issues in that case would likely never have made it there because it costs too much to litigate. Instead the pre-paid service took the case, won it, and ever since has been saving not only UAW members money in bankruptcy but everyone else as well. The same is true in other areas of consumer rights law. THe UAWLSP tends to blaze a trail, educating Judges and other lawyers about the myraid of consumer rights laws. Once educated, those Judges and lawyers apply those laws to other cases that come before them (especially in small claims court), usually to the benefit of people that have no idea that it was a UAW lawyer that helped them out. I know it is popular to bash lawyers, but most of the lawyers that work for the program tend to truly have their clients' and all consumers' best interests in mind.

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