CAMBA Workers Protest at CAMBA Offices to Demand a Fair Contract
Unionized legal services staff say they will take their battle for respect to the communities they serve.
(Brooklyn, NY) – CAMBA Legal Services workers along with community groups held community pickets and protests on Tuesday, December 11th at 1pm at 885 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and 120 Stuyvesant Place in Staten Island to call on CAMBA to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith with the Union. Since beginning negotiations several months ago, CAMBA has refused to entertain basic proposals like case caps to ensure quality client services, annual salary increases for support staff, parental leave and salary equity with other legal services programs providing the same services. On Friday, CAMBA Management cancelled its next bargaining session citing these demands and unreasonable.
The employees of CAMBA Legal Services, numbering around 40 lawyers, paralegals, and other support staff, elected to join UAW Local 2325 in August 2018 and have been negotiating their first contract ever since, in an attempt to secure justice and respect for CAMBA clients and employees. The workers represent low-income New Yorkers with free legal services in a variety of different practice areas including housing, foreclosure, immigration, and consumer law.
CAMBA itself is a huge service provider in Brooklyn, providing benefits advocacy, homeless shelters, low-income housing, and other programs in addition to legal services. Despite CAMBA’s service to Brooklyn’s poorest, it has been noted as an extremely top-heavy organization with the top CAMBA executives taking in over $300,000 annually.
“We call on CAMBA to come to the bargaining table and negotiate and a fair contract which shows respect for CAMBA workers and CAMBA clients and community members” said Deborah Wright, President of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325
CAMBA workers are part of a larger movement in recent years of non-profit and legal services employees who have chosen to unionize in order to further the quality of services provided to indigent client populations. Many have faced deep opposition from their employers who have shown themselves to be progressive in name only.
As the oldest union of attorneys in the country, ALAA – UAW Local 2325, represents 1,200 attorneys and staff members at the Legal Aid Society of New York, The Nassau County Legal Aid Society, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Federal Defenders of New York, Youth Represent, and CAMBA Legal Services.