Local 1033 Plan Information


Tens of millions of Americans who require legal counsel will not seek the advice of an attorney because they cannot afford one. The Laborers’ International Union of North America, AFL-CIO has been in the forefront of the Union effort to meet the need for legal assistance for working families. The establishment of legal service plans for LIUNA members has been a priority in all our Union’s bargaining efforts.

In 1974, Public Employees Local 1033 bargained for and won for its members an agreement whereby the City of Providence, Rhode Island agreed to contribute to a trust fund established for the purpose of insuring the availability of a broad range of legal services at no cost to the membership and their families. The range of available legal services is the broadest in the nation. The established Plan provides comprehensive legal assistance covering almost every facet of legal needs to eligible members and their dependents.

Legal services were made available beginning in January, 1975 for Providence’s Municipal Employees. As of this printing, eligible employees of the following public entities enjoy the benefits of this legal plan:

Burrillville Sewer Authority
City of Cranston
City of Providence
City of Warwick
Cumberland Housing Authority
East Providence Housing Authority
Johnston Housing Authority
North Providence Housing Authority
Pawtucket Housing Authority
Providence Civic Center Authority
Providence Housing Authority
Providence School Department
Smithfield School Department
Town of East Greenwich
Town of North Providence
Westerly Housing Authority

Operation of the Plan

The operation of the Plan is financially supported by regular contributions made by participating employers pursuant to collective bargaining agreements. The contributions are used to pay the attorneys’ fees and the cost of operating the Plan. The attorneys agree to make no other charges for their services provided through the Plan. There are certain costs (sheriff, court, bail, fines, etc.), which are not covered and those costs are set out in the Unavailable Services section. The services provided by the Plan, will, at all times, be limited by the resources available to the Plan.

The Board of Trustees retains an administrator who is an attorney to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Plan. The administrator oversees the work of the Attorneys, keeps all records, and makes the expenditures authorized by the Board as are necessary to operate the Plan. The administrator regularly reports to the Board of Trustees on the operation of the Plan, including financial data, the number of members and dependents receiving services, and the kinds of services provided.

The policy-making responsibility for the Plan rests with the Board of Trustees, which is composed of three Local Union 1033 members. The Trustees are empowered to take such action as is necessary to implement and insure the efficient operation of the Plan. They may amend, alter, limit or expand the Plan in accordance with the financial resources available. It has always been the intent of the Trustees that there be little or no limitation of the legal service available to members. The Trustees of the Plan must approve the availability of the services to new bargaining units.

Services provided under this Plan are limited to the geographical and legal jurisdiction of the State of Rhode Island.

No eligible member or dependent is required or obligated to consult with or be represented by an Attorney employed or retained by the Plan as a condition of Union membership and such member or dependent shall remain free to consult with or be represented by any other Attorney concerning any matter at the member’s own expense.

This booklet describing the Plan will be distributed to all eligible members. Copies will be available at all times at the Plan’s Office. When any significant change is made to the Plan, a description of the change will be distributed to eligible members.

Who Provides the Services

Many of the day-to-day inquiries relative to legal concerns and the extent of coverage are handled by the Administrator. All information, forms, pre-claim applications, referral forms and Attorney status forms are within his/her control.

The Board of Trustees also retains Attorneys to provide services to eligible members and their dependents under this Plan.

Attorneys providing legal services under the Plan shall be compensated from the Fund. The Attorneys’ services shall be provided in accordance with the professional and ethical standards expected of lawyers. In providing such Legal Services, the Attorneys shall adhere to the rules of the Plan as established herein, but shall receive no further instructions, direction, or interference from its Trustees or Agents. Their obligations and relations as Attorneys shall be exclusively with their clients, i.e. eligible union members and dependents. They shall maintain the confidentiality of the lawyer-client relationship in accordance with applicable canons of ethics.

There shall be no infringement upon the independent exercise of professional judgment of any lawyer furnishing services under the Plan. They shall refuse to provide services in any matter they believe to be clearly without merit or frivolous.
A frivolous claim or a claim without merit is a matter where the client desires to have the action taken primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring a person and/or if the Attorney is unable, in his or her professional judgment, to make a good faith argument on the merits of the action taken or to support the action by a reasonable argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

When, in the opinion of the Attorney, a matter has been resolved in the best interest of the client, and the client refuses to accept the Attorney’s advice and recommendations, the Attorney may remove himself/herself from the matter. The member-client may appeal the matter to the Administrator. If a member, after appealing to the Administrator, is still dissatisfied with the Attorney’s advice and recommendation, the eligible member-client may appeal to the Board of Trustees.

How to Use the Plan

When an eligible member or dependent desires legal services, the first step is to contact the Administrator of the Plan. The Administrator will determine the member or dependent’s eligibility.

The member will be required to complete a Pre-Claim Application and Certificate of Eligibility Form, which states the nature of the problem; i.e., domestic, civil, bankruptcy, etc. The member will then be assigned an Attorney and authorize initial contact with the Attorney’s office. The Plan will forward a copy of the Pre-Claim Application and Certificate of Eligibility to the assigned Attorney. A file is started by the Administrator, which remains open until such time as the Attorney forwards an Attorney’s Status Report to the Administrator notifying the Administrator that the matter has been concluded.

The Attorney’s Status Report provides a detailed breakdown of the Attorney’s time spent on the matter.

Cost to Members

The Rhode Island Public Service Employees’ Legal Service Plan imposes no cost to its members for legal services rendered by the Plan’s designated Attorney. There are no dollar or hour limits on legal services available, and no deductible or “start up fees” involved. However, fees such as Sheriff, Court filing, Bail, Fines and Witness fees are not covered by the Plan.


The following persons are eligible to receive the legal services provided under the Plan:

1. Members in good standing of Local 1033, 1217 and 1322 and other bargaining units accepted by the Board of Trustees who are employed by or members retired from participating State or Local Governmental units and agencies.

2. A spouse or other dependent as defined below shall be eligible to receive the services provided under the Plan, as long as the member continues to be eligible and consents to the receipt of such services.

  • A. A spouse, if not legally separated.

  • B. An unmarried child (including adopted, step and foster children) under 18 years of age, who has the same residence as the member and is wholly dependent upon the member for support, or a dependent child who is under twenty-three (23) year of age and attending an accredited school or college on a full-time basis.

  • C. An unmarried child who has the same legal residence as the eligible member and is mentally or physically incapable of earning his or her own living and is wholly dependent upon the member for his or her support or maintenance.

  • D. A widow, widower or other dependent of a deceased eligible member for a period of one (1) year after the member’s death.

  • E. A widow, widower or other dependent of a deceased eligible member for such time as shall be required to probate the estate.

3. Eligibility for benefits commences when a cause of action accrues on behalf of or against a member, spouse or dependent, and the criterion will not be when the member, spouse or dependent seek to avail themselves of the benefits under this Plan.

Termination of Benefits

In the event a member shall transfer or is suspended from membership in the Local, services provided to him or her dependents shall be terminated. However, if a matter is still pending, the Attorney involved shall give appropriate notice of his/her withdrawal from such matter unless, because of the closeness of the scheduled time for a hearing or trial, the Attorney determines that such a withdrawal might prejudice the matter. In such case, the Attorney shall continue to provide services until the conclusion of such hearing or trial.

Available Services

The following services shall be provided by the Plan to eligible members and their dependents without any Attorneys’ fee:

1. Legal Advice and Consultation
This shall include telephone and office conferences and negotiations to settle cases or legal problems prior to and after legal action has commenced. The drafting and review of legal letters, leases, contracts, releases, settlements and certain other types of legal documents are covered. The Attorney will provide legal research, opinions and any other activity ordinarily performed in connection with legal representation of a client.

2. Consumer Transaction

  • A. The Plan includes the defense of and the initiation of claims and lawsuits arising from the member’s transactions for the purchase of goods or services other than those undertaking primarily for commercial or profit making purposes.

  • B. Representation will be provided for wage attachment proceedings and all other legal actions against the member’s personal assets.

  • C. Representation in bankruptcy matters is limited to matters arising under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Act.

3. Domestic Relations

  • A. Legal matters involving marital and family difficulties are covered. However, only the eligible member of the Plan shall be entitled to the services of the Plan in any matter relating to marital difficulties.

  • B. Matters before Family Court involving adoptions and paternity.

  • C. In a domestic relations matter where the eligible member by written authorization and consent permits a spouse-dependent to receive benefits opposed to the interest of the eligible member, the Plan will not provide benefits to the eligible member in subsequent domestic litigation of any nature whatsoever involving that particular spouse.

  • D. Where two members of a family, for example husband and wife, are both eligible members of the Union and there is a legal problem between the two of them — such as divorce or support – the Administrator is authorized to select a separate Attorney to represent each party.

4. Real Estate Transactions

  • A. The purchase or sale of an owner occupied dwelling for the personal use of the eligible member. The dwelling shall not house more than three families, which shall include the eligible member’s family and be the eligible member’s primary residence.

  • B. Landlord – Tenant matters involving the eligible member’s or dependent’s primary residence is a covered service.

  • C. The mortgaging and re-mortgaging of the eligible member’s primary residence.

5. Wills and Minor’s Trusts
The preparation of what is ordinarily called a Simple Will and or a Minor’s Trust is available to the eligible member and member’s spouse.

6. Estates
In probate matters, the estate of the eligible member, spouse or minor child is a covered matter. Legal services are not available to probate the estate of anyone other than those mentioned above.

7. Traffic Violations
Legal Service is available for traffic violations of misdemeanor nature. Felony traffic violations are subject to Paragraph 10 below.

8. Immigration
Consultation on all immigration matters.

9. Insurance Company Claims
The Plan will handle claims arising out of delays and failures to pay an eligible member or dependent under his or her own insurance coverage.

10. Criminal Matters
Representation in any criminal matter is limited to misdemeanors. The Plan will represent eligible members and dependents in a felony matter up until the time of arraignment.

11. Taxes
Preparation and Filing of Personal Estate, Gift and Federal and State Income Tax returns.

Unavailable Services

Although the Attorneys working for the Plan provide the services listed below, the following services are specifically not covered by the Plan:

1. Commercial or income-producing matters involving leases, buy and sell agreements, incorporations, and general business transactions.

2. Claims on behalf of plaintiff for bodily injuries or property damage resulting from accident or other cause and which are contingent fee in nature.

3. Claim for compensation under Workers’ Compensation Act.

4. Legal Services, which are fee-generating or commercial in nature including any services in connection with patents, trademark or copyrights.

5. Matters involving, as adverse parties, any of the following:

  • A. An eligible member or dependent;

  • B. The Plan, Fund or any Employee or Agent of the Plan or Fund;

  • C. The Laborers’ International Union of North America, AFL-CIO or its Officers, Agents or Employees;

  • D. Any Local Union or District Council affiliated with the Laborers’ International Union of North America or its Officers, Agents or Employees;

  • E. Any Benefit Program, Plan or Fund, the Trustees, Administrators, Agents, or Employees thereof, in which any Local Union of the Laborers’ International Union of North America participates or has an interest;

  • F. Any Employer who is a party to a Collective Bargaining Agreement with any affiliate of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

6. Contingent fee cases. This includes accident cases where, under ordinary circumstances, a fee would be paid from what is recovered.

7. Business Expenses – Legal fees and expenses incurred in connection with any business venture participated in by an eligible member or dependent, including all legal expenses for which a federal income tax deduction or allowance would be permissible as a business expense or capital investment.

8. All cases or matters in which counsel has already been engaged or retained.

9. Payments of Fines, Penalties or Civil damages.

10. Any matter or proceeding involving legal services, which are available through insurance.

11. Payment of filing fees, witness fees, Appraisals, Real Estate Title Policy, Attorney not retained by the Plan, including Attorney required by Lenders, investigation reports, depositions, stenographic fees, printing and copying, long distance toll calls, photography, bond premiums, bail services or fees, service of process and medical and scientific examinations, tests and reports.

If You Have a Complaint

A Review Committee consisting of Trustees has been established.

If an eligible member or dependent has a complaint regarding the operation of the Plan he/she must bring the matter to the attention of the Review Committee, by forwarding a letter, postage prepaid, to the Plan Office. Upon receipt of such letter, the Trustees shall appoint a subcommittee to investigate the matter and submit a report with recommendations to the full Board.

If the complaining eligible member or dependent is dissatisfied with the decision of the Review Committee, he/she shall be entitled to obtain a resolution of the dispute through the process of Arbitration.

The dissatisfied member or dependent must notify the Board of Trustees in writing of his/her intent to arbitrate its decision. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees then shall arrange for Arbitration in accordance with rules set forth by the American Arbitration Association.

The decision of the Arbitrator shall be final and binding upon the parties. The Arbitrator may allocate the costs of the Arbitration between the parties on an equitable basis.

The same procedure is followed in the event that there is a breakdown in the Attorney-Client relationship. In that event the Attorney may elect to withdraw from the case.

The Attorney will initiate a request to withdraw with the Administrator. The Administrator will investigate and render a decision. If the Attorney is dissatisfied, he/she has the right to a hearing by the Board of Trustees and if again dissatisfied, the right to secure a ruling through the process of arbitration.

Miscellaneous Provisions

1. The services provided for herein are for the sole benefit of eligible members and their dependents. Such services shall not inure to the benefit of, nor vest in, any other persons or entity, public or private, such as a Trustee in Bankruptcy, or to any assignee for the benefit of creditors or otherwise. Service provided under the Plan is not assignable.

2. The Plan shall be subrogated to all rights of an eligible member or dependent to recover Attorney’s fees and costs against any person or entity. Members or dependents shall execute and deliver to the Plan any instruments or papers and do whatever else is necessary to secure such rights for the Plan; and they shall do nothing to prejudice such rights.

Summary of the Plan

The Rhode Island Public Service Employees’ Legal Service Plan was established by Public Employees’ Local Union 1033, Providence, Rhode Island, an affiliate of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, to protect and advance the legal rights and interests of eligible members of the Plan and their dependents. The Plan emphasizes the process of educating eligible members and their dependents as to their legal rights.

The Plan is administered by a Board of Trustees, consisting of three Union representatives. The Board of Trustees has been designated as the Agent for the service of legal process.

All contributions to the Plan are made by Employers in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreements with affiliates of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, AFL-CIO. The Fund Office will provide you, upon written request, information as to whether a particular employer is contributing to this Plan on behalf of members working under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Collective Bargaining Agreements require contributions to the Plan at fixed rates per hour worked.

Benefits are provided from the Fund’s assets which are accumulated under the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Trust Agreement and held in a Trust Fund for the purpose of providing benefits to eligible members and defraying reasonable administrative expenses.

The Plan’s requirements with respect to eligibility as well as circumstances that may result in disqualification, ineligibility or denial or loss of any benefits are fully described in the above information.

All of the types of benefits provided by the Plan are set forth in the Services Available Provisions.

The procedures to follow for filing a claim for benefits are set forth on page 6. If all or any part of your claim is denied, you may appeal that decision. To make an appeal, write the Fund Office within 60 days. See above information for Review Procedures.