Brooklyn, NY — Today, support staff at CAMBA Legal Services (CLS), announced their intent to join the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325. The support staff, which include paralegals, case aides, project coordinators, and receptionists, hope to join the CAMBA attorneys, who unanimously elected to join ALAA last month and were voluntarily recognized by CAMBA.
The support staff are calling on CAMBA to immediately recognize their union after an overwhelming majority signed cards indicating their support for unionization. The 14 legal services workers announced their intent to unionize on Tuesday afternoon in a delegation to CAMBA General Counsel Elizabeth Miller. Among the support staff’s concerns are fair compensation, increased training and workforce development, and a higher standard of representation for CAMBA’s clients.
“Support staff at CLS play a very important role in preventing client evictions. We work together with attorneys to ensure our clients are offered the best possible services to maintain their housing and become self-sufficient” said Dafina Oruqi, Project Coordinator in the CLS Brooklyn Housing Practice. “We need CAMBA to provide support staff with fair compensation, better health coverage, job stability, sustainable workloads, and investment in work skills development. We need to be appreciated for the hard work that we we do which is why we need CAMBA to recognize our union immediately.”
“With the union backing me up I can feel at ease knowing that I can’t lose my job wrongfully” said Idalia Bisbal, Case Aide in the CLS Staten Island Office. “I also appreciate that if I feel like something is wrong I don’t have to fear and I can speak to someone and I’ll have representation if need be. I won’t have to face anything alone. My security is my priority, and with the union I feel secure.”
“We are calling on CAMBA to respect the choice of the support staff to join together and form a union without interference” said Deborah Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325. “Comendably, CAMBA agreed to voluntary recognition of the attorneys’ union and we are asking for them to extend this policy to their support staff, who have also chosen to organize themselves and form a union. 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.”
The support staff of CAMBA Legal Services will join the 1,200 attorneys and support staff 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, Youth Represent, and CAMBA Legal Services. Founded in 1969, ALAA is the country’s oldest union of legal services workers.