The National Lawyers Guild has nearly twenty committees and task forces but none that deals with many of the economic justice issues confronting legal aid and other public interest law firms: welfare benefits, family law for survivors of domestic violence, health law, consumer law, education law, youth and elder law, to name a few. Only two committees, the Disability Rights Committee and the Labor and Employment Committees do work that forms the core of legal services work.
In the early 1980’s, a handful of people, including legendary legal aid lawyer Evelyn Frank and Art Heitzer, began the Guild’s Economic Rights Task Force. As part of ERTF’s early work in 1984, ERTF took on Gov. Pete Wilson and his welfare-bashing initiative, Proposition 41, which would have cut welfare benefits nearly in half. The Guild became an active member of Campaign for a Fair Share, a state-wide grassroots organization composed mainly of housing and homeless advocacy group and welfare recipients. Due to great community organizing around the State, Prop 41 was defeated by a 3-1 margin.