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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.