(August 3, 2018; New York, NY) Earlier today, Rachel B. Tiven announced that she will be stepping down as CEO of Lambda Legal. In response, Lambda Unites, the organizing committee of Lambda Legal’s employee union, issued the following statement:
The staff at Lambda Legal have worked tirelessly for over 45 years for the communities we serve. Every attorney, every administrator, every accountant, every director, every legal assistant, every communications staffer, every fundraiser, every community educator – and all who are listed here and all who are not – are proud of the work we have done to make Lambda Legal the institution that it is today.
Many of our achievements were considered impossible at the time that Lambda Legal took them on, and it is a fact that they would not have been possible without Lambda Legal’s dedicated and brilliant staff – past and present. It was the staff who pushed for positive change in society during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when the survival of our very communities seemed in doubt. It was the staff who worked night and day on Lawrence v. Texas, our groundbreaking Supreme Court victory that saw sodomy laws overturned nationwide. It was the staff who led the fight for marriage equality. It was the staff who fought (and continue to fight) for the rights of transgender people in prisons, schools, health care settings, and in our nation’s military.
And it was the staff who voted to unionize here at Lambda Legal. When our health care and retirement benefits were cut; when long-serving, talented members of the organization were forced to leave, either directly or by the many changes that have occurred over the past two years; and when internal inequitable, top-down power structures meant that organizational changes were made in unilateral fashion, without soliciting staff feedback, and while keeping staff in the dark – we rose up. We recognized our worth, and we came together – because we believed (and we still believe) in what Lambda Legal stands for. And we and others on staff continued to fight back against toxic leadership in our organization even after then.
We see this new opportunity for a change in leadership as a fresh start, and a way for Lambda Legal to prove its commitment to the staff that has worked so hard to make this institution what it is. We have been in the process of working on a union contract for five months now, and Lambda Legal management’s actions have frequently indicated to us that they have not been as invested in quickly coming to an agreement as we are. However, we have hope that this process can and will be better going forward. We are firmly committed to developing a contract that allows Lambda Legal’s devoted staff the opportunity to focus on our work without fear of financial insecurity, job insecurity, and insufficient health care coverage (including our current lack of necessary coverage for all transition-related care for transgender staff).
We are our community, and we are who we fight – who we sue, who we advocate, who we educate – for. We are queer people who need a safe work environment. We are trans people, disabled people, people living with HIV, partners, and parents who need access to equitable health care.
We will not accept anything less.
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