Thursday, April 24, 2014
Hero of Justice Award
LAAC Honors Assemblymember Wieckowski with Hero of Justice Award
Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) received the inaugural Hero of Justice Award for his work as a legislator expanding access to justice in California. LAAC honored Wieckowski during a ceremony February 1, 2012 at the Fremont Family Resource Center. Representatives from legal services programs across California and from the State Bar of California attended the event, joining constituents from Wieckowski’s district.Wieckowski represents California’s 25th Assembly District, which includes Fremont, Milpitas, Newark and Santa Clara.
The chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Wieckowski is the first person to receive the new award, according to Julia Wilson, executive director of the Legal Aid Association of California. "We are so happy to be able to recognize Assemblymember Wieckowski's incredible commitment to low-income Californians by presenting him with the Hero of Justice Award. Assemblymember Wieckowski has shown through his legislative work that he truly understands the issues affecting the day-to-day life of Californians in need," Wilson said.
The award recognized Wieckowski's work to protect low-wage workers in California with the passage of AB 1775. Last year Governor Brown signed AB 1775 into law, allowing low-income wage earners to have an additional $100 a week protected from wage garnishment. For California's minimum wage earners, this may make the difference between keeping a home or losing it.
“I am honored to receive the ‘Hero of Justice’ Award," Assemblymember Wieckowski said. "The recession and slow economic recovery have left many Californians in very tough financial situations. It is critical that we all work together to provide the necessary services and assistance to help people regain control of their finances.”
Protecting the rights of low-income Californians has become even more challenging during the past few years as the economy has declined and the number of Californians living in poverty have increased. Legal services programs that serve people who cannot afford attorneys have faced severe cuts. One major funding stream for these programs has been cut 75 percent since 2008, a loss of over 15 million dollars. Laws like AB 1775 help keep more money in the pockets of low-income Californians, decreasing their need for legal services from organizations already struggling to meet existing demand for services.
This makes efforts like Wieckowski’s even more crucial in ensuring people can access justice—and the legal help they need. “We are so grateful to Assemblymember Wieckowski for his support on issues affecting low-income people in our state,” said Salena Copeland, LAAC directing attorney. “We need to ensure the safety net is there for people when they need it—when they need to protect their homes, protect their kids, or protect their safety on the job.
“Wieckowski’s work on consumer law concerns is an important step in the right direction, especially when there continues to be a gap between the pressing need for legal services and our current capacity to address that need.”