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Legal Defense Fund Policy for Locals

Amended June 1997, AFT Washington

Preamble: Article VI, Section 4, of the AFT Washington Constitution establishes a distinct fund to be used for legal defense. This Legal Defense Policy governs the administration of that fund.

Grant requests will be assessed on their merits by the Legal Defense Committee and the Executive Board. Locals should avoid heavy financial obligations in a case without first ascertaining whether AFT and AFT Washington will support it.

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1.0 Grants to Locals: Upon application, a local in good standing may receive a legal-defense grant to cover normally up to one-third (1/3) the actual costs of legal actions involving academic freedom, civil rights, or job-security rights. A local in good standing may also receive such a grant normally for up to one-third (1/3) the actual costs of legal actions regarding an issue the outcome of which would have substantial impact on locals within one or more councils established by the Constitution.

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2.0 Application Procedures: A local seeking a legal-defense grant must complete the following application procedures:

2.1 Legal Action Involving Academic Freedom, Civil Rights, or Job Security Rights: The local must request a grant by official action of the membership or the local executive board. Requests from individual members or officers will not be honored.

2.2 Legal Actions Possibly Having Substantial Impact on Other Locals: The local must either:

  • a. obtain an official declaration from the appropriate council(s) that the case would or does have a substantial impact on more than the local making the request, or

    b. submit a petition from other locals declaring their conclusion that the case would or does have a substantial impact on more than the local making the request.

    Any such declaration or petition must reflect official action by the signing council(s) or locals and shall not be valid if based only on the opinions of individual members or officers of the locals. Each declaration or petition must include an official recommendation that the case be supported from the Legal Defense Fund and must be accompanied by an explanation in reasonable particularity of how the legal action actually would or does have the impact claimed.

    In exceptional situations, the AFT Washington Executive Board upon written petition of a local in good standing or a council may waive the requirement of Section 2.2. The petitioner must show the exceptional nature of the situation and the harm that will result if the requirements are not waived.

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    2.3 Submission of Written Statements: A local seeking a legal-defense grant must submit full written statements concerning the date on which official action to seek the grant was taken, the circumstances of the case, and the purpose(s) for which the grant, if awarded, would be used. Normally, locals should use the forms (or facsimiles) required for legal-defense grants from AFT. These forms are available in the AFT Washington office.

    When these statements are completed, they must be submitted to the AFT Washington office, which shall forward copies to the Vice President for Legal Defense and the other members of the legal-defense committee.

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    3.0 Review by the Legal Defense Committee: Upon receiving a local's grant request, the legal defense committee shall meet to review it and make written recommendations to the Executive Board.

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    4.0 Final Action by the Executive Board: Upon receiving written recommendations from the legal defense committee concerning a grant request, the Executive Board shall take final action. Locals or Councils shall have the right to request reconsideration of the Executive Board's decision. Normally, requests for reconsideration, including the basis for them, shall be in writing.

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    5.0 Grants to Councils: An AFT Washington Council in consultation with the Vice President for Legal Defense may request a grant for up to $1,500 in instances where the Council believes a legal case or question of law having substantial impact on locals within the Council should be pursued. Any such request shall be made directly to the AFT Washington Executive Board, which shall take final action. Nothing in this section, however, shall preclude the Executive Board from seeking written recommendations from the legal defense committee prior to acting on the request.

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    6.0 Use of the Legal-Defense Fund by the AFT Washington Executive Board: The AFT Washington Executive Board may use the legal-defense fund for the payment of legal costs incurred by AFT Washington for the general health, welfare, and/or defense of the AFT Washington or its locals.

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    7.0 Payment of Grants: When the Executive Board has determined that a legal-defense grant should be made, payment of the amount approved shall be made only upon receipt in the AFT Washington office of itemized fee statements or receipted bills.

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    8.0 Supersession:This legal defense policy supersedes any other policies or agreements heretofore established by the Executive Board.

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