Today, Lambda Legal’s employee union (Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32035) held a brief collective lunch-out at the organization’s New York Headquarters on Wall Street.
Employees in other Lambda Legal offices also showed support for the lunch-out by posting pictures holding signs reading “LAMBDA LEGAL STAFF DEMAND A FAIR CONTRACT NOW” on social media.
Since negotiations began in May of 2018, Lambda Legal management and its representatives at known anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw have been reluctant to schedule bargaining sessions, typically agreeing only to one or two per month. Further, management has cancelled or postponed one third of scheduled bargaining sessions (seven out of 21) – four of them in 2019 alone. These cancellations are frequently attributed to the Seyfarth Shaw attorneys’ inability to attend previously-agreed upon dates, despite the fact that five separate Seyfarth Shaw attorneys (and multiple interns) have appeared at various bargaining sessions and that Lambda Legal management representatives initially agreed to bargain without labor attorneys present at all.
Although six weeks remain until the anniversary of the first bargaining session, Lambda Legal management shows no signs of urgency towards completing a contract. Staff have been left waiting for a response to proposals on important issues like salaries and retirement benefits for a month and a half or more. Moreover, management representatives continue to take positions at odds with the organization’s stated values. At the most recent bargaining session, management representatives objected to contract language that would have committed the organization to ensuring transgender employees’ continued access to medically necessary transition-related health care.
“Lambda Legal respects and supported our employees’ right to unionize and looks forward to working together to support the shared goals of the newly-formed union and the organization,” the organization wrote in a statement in October of 2018. However, these continued delays belie the organization’s stated commitment to resolving negotiations as quickly as possible.
Today’s lunch-out was organized with the intention of building solidarity, demonstrating to management that the staff – despite these continued stalling tactics – is committed to reaching a fair contract as soon as possible, and demanding that Lambda Legal management bargain in good faith and live up to the organization’s publicly stated values.
After the lunch-out, employees returned to work as normal.