Brooklyn, NY — Staff attorneys and law graduates at CAMBA Legal Services (CLS), announced their intent to join the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 today. The attorneys, who work for the legal services department of the large social service provider, CAMBA, Inc. represent indigent clients facing eviction, foreclosure, immigration issues, and consumer fraud in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
The attorneys are calling on CAMBA to immediately recognize their union after an overwhelming majority signed cards indicating their support for unionization. The twenty-five Staff attorneys announced their intent to unionize on Thursday afternoon in a delegation to CAMBA General Counsel Elizabeth Miller. Among the attorneys’ concerns are fair compensation, increased training and workforce development, and a higher standard of representation for CAMBA’s clients.
“While CAMBA’s funding continues to grow and the workload increases, CAMBA attorneys are still faced with less than comparable pay and fewer resources than other legal services” said Glenn Berry, Staff Attorney at the CLS Staten Island office. “Working with a union we hope to provide a better client experience and create a workspace where the attorneys are not forced to continually leave to find better circumstances”
“We have organized because it will allow us to provide higher-quality service to our clients and surrounding communities” said Pooja Patel, Staff Attorney at the CLS Flatbush office. “We hope that CAMBA will recognize us.”
“This is about more than our rights as workers” said Steven Swenson, Staff Attorney at the CLS Flatbush office. “It’s also about getting the resources and training to provide relentless advocacy for our clients.”
“We are calling on CAMBA to respect the choice of their staff to join together and form a union without interference” said Deborah Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325. “The attorneys at CAMBA are joining a movement of hundreds of legal service workers across the country who are uniting to win justice for themselves and their clients. As universal access to legal counsel begins to roll out in New York City, it is crucial that staff at legal service providers like CLS organize to ensure the highest standards of working conditions and legal representation for their clients.”
Union organizing among attorneys, legal services workers, and other professional employees has increased in the last few years, as attorneys at legal services organizations like Youth Represent and Lambda Legal have joined graduate teaching assistants at multiple universities, and newsroom staff at media organizations around the country to improve working conditions in their respective industries. If their union is recognized, the staff attorneys at CAMBA Legal Services will join the 1,200 members of ALAA who are employed at the Legal Aid Society of New York City, the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, Federal Defenders of New York, The Legal Aid Society of Orange County, and Youth Represent. ALAA – UAW Local 2325 is the nation’s oldest union of attorneys and legal workers.