Lawsuit: Gilead cuts deals to keep HIV drug prices high

Combination drug “cocktails” to treat HIV infection are an important part of patients’ routine, allowing them to reduce the number of pills they must take each day. But the lifesaving tablets also were the focus of anti-competitive schemes by the nation’s leading HIV drug manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, according to a consumer lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Read more at the Washington Post 

LID's 2019 Honorees

Every year, LID honors those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership our community. This year we honor the work and dedication of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Activist Cecilia Gentili, the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) and the Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ Organization (BILO).

The LID Awards are Friday, May 17 at Berg’n in Crown Heights. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

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Representative Hakeem Jeffries

Hakeem Jeffries, representing New York’s 8th Congressional district, was elected Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus this year - making him one of the most visible Brooklynites in the country. Chairman Jeffries is a co-sponsor of The Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from employment, housing, and other forms of discrimination nationwide. Before being elected to Congress, Chairman Jeffries served six years in the New York State Assembly.

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State Senator Brad Hoylman

Currently the only openly LGBT member of the State Senate, Senator Brad Hoylman most recently helped pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and a ban on the so-called practice of conversion therapy. He was first elected to the Senate in 2012 after spending more than 20 years as a grassroots activist. Since taking office, Senator Hoylman also helped win more funding for homeless youth shelters and a 30 percent income rent cap for low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.

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Cecilia Gentili

Cecilia Gentili is the founder of Transgender Equity Consulting, and most recently served as Director of Policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis from 2016 to 2019. Throughout her career, Cecilia has trained more than 3,000 individuals on a range of issues that include LGBTQ inclusion, immigration, drug use, sexual health, trans sensitivity, and intersectionality. Cecilia is originally from Argentina, and found her passion for advocacy and community service as an intern at the NYC LGBT Community Center.

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New York Transgender Advocacy Group

The New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) is a Transgender-led nonprofit. Their mission is to advocate for gender-based policies that benefit Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming individuals through building community leaders, educating practitioners, dismantling systems, and influencing policy makers.

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Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ Organization

Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ Organization (BILO) was formed by LGBTQ Brooklynites of Irish descent to celebrate the diversity of the Irish and Irish-American community in Brooklyn. In 2019, with the support of Assembly Member Robert Carroll, BILO became the first LGBTQ contingent to march in Brooklyn’s Irish American Day/St. Patrick’s Day parade, ending several decades of LGBTQ exclusion.

CAMBA Legal Services Workers Have a Contract!
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From Our Friends at UAW 2325 - Association of Legal Aid Attorneys:

We are thrilled to announce that the support staff and attorneys at CAMBA Legal Services ratified a strong contract yesterday and are back at work fighting for their clients!

Thank you to all the community groups, union members and elected officials who supported us in this effort.

It took nearly four weeks for CAMBA management to recognize the value of their workers and finally offer a contract that provides improved parental leave, reduced health insurance contributions and a step structure that will provide regular salary increases to support staff. This is in addition to the job security, grievance process, and workplace protections that come with working in a union shop.

Perhaps most importantly, all 38 of our members stood together in solidarity while organizing, bargaining, and ultimately, striking. They supported one another in every way imaginable and worked incredibly hard under difficult circumstances, always treating each other with respect and dignity. We can all be so proud of what they achieved and are thrilled to welcome them as full-fledged, contract-bearing members of the ALAA and UAW families!

LID Stands with CAMBA Legal Services Workers

CAMBA Legal Services is a critical service provider in Brooklyn.  Their attorneys protect our neighbors from foreclosure, eviction, consumer fraud and poor living conditions, among others invaluable services. 

However, CAMBA's legal services staff at CAMBA face poor working conditions and inadequate benefits.  CAMBA's leave policy only offers new mothers with short-term disability, forcing LGBTQ parents, among others, to take unpaid leave to care for their newest loved ones.  CAMBA also refuses to offer salary step for its valuable support staff, making life in New York even more difficult for workers who are already underpaid. 

In March 2018, CAMBA's Legal Services employees voted unanimously to join our friends at UAW Local 2324 (AFL-CIO). CAMBA has not agreed to a fair contract, and its workers have been on strike since April 15th. 

On Saturday, April 27th, LID's Executive Board unanimously adopted a resolution urging CAMBA to reach a fair agreement with its legal services workers ensuring equitable pay increases and paid parental leave for employees of all genders.  These attorneys and support staff are dedicated to their clients - the neediest New Yorkers.  They are dedicated to Brooklyn, and to our community.  They deserve better. 

Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (hereinafter “LID”), Brooklyn’s oldest and largest LGBTQ political club, finds that:

  1. CAMBA Legal Services attorneys and social workers provide invaluable services to our neighbors in Brooklyn, protecting them from unfair eviction, inadequate or dangerous apartment conditions, consumer fraud, foreclosures, and immigration consequences.

  2. In May 2018, the CAMBA Legal Services workers voted unanimously to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2325, the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO). The workers unionized so that they could fight to improve training for new attorneys, improve their working conditions, and advocate for adequate benefits. The conditions at CAMBA cause many attorneys and staff to leave the organization, which deprives low-income New Yorkers of experienced and talented representation.

  3. The workers have bargained in good faith with CAMBA for nearly a year. Yet, rather than give workers industry standard paid parental leave, CAMBA only offers short term disability for birth mothers. As a result, there is no paid parental leave for many LGBTQ parents, fathers, or adoptive parents. Further, birth mothers at CAMBA have been forced to use food stamps after giving birth because they do not have actual paid parental leave.

  4. CAMBA refuses to offer the support staff yearly salary step increases. This makes living in New York more difficult for valuable workers that are already grossly underpaid for their work.

  5. Due to CAMBA’s refusal to offer a fair contract, the workers went on a one-day strike on March 27, 2019. Following, CAMBA stated that their economic offer was final, and that they would not negotiate salary steps or paid parental leave. As a result, the workers went on an indefinite strike beginning April 15, 2019.

  6. CAMBA has approximately $144 million in revenue, and the total package the workers are asking for is only estimated to be $300,000. Meanwhile, CAMBA’s CEO has a compensation package worth over $629,000, and the top four deputies earn a combined $3.8 million. CAMBA can afford to fairly compensate the workers that provide direct legal services, but chooses not to.

  7. The attorneys and support staff want to return to work so that they can continue providing low-income New Yorkers representation. They are dedicated to their jobs, to their clients, and to our community. However, their working conditions and lack of benefits are unsustainable for them to survive in New York.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

  1. CAMBA Legal Services management is urged to work with UAW Local 2325 in securing a fair agreement with its workers, which must include equitable pay increases, and paid parental leave that allows employees of all genders and adoptive parents to care for their children. When employers refuse to make fair and just economic offers to workers, low-income communities are hurt as talented staff often prefer to seek employment at legal services organizations that treat workers more humanely.