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Aboriginal Legal Services Employees Joined the Society

October 3, 2019

Employees of Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) are the newest group to unionize with the Society of United Professionals.

“We’re very pleased to welcome the employees of Aboriginal Legal Services into our union,” said Scott Travers, President of the Society of United Professionals. “The Ford government’s funding cuts has caused undue stress to Ontario’s legal aid system. We commend our newest members for organizing and resisting in this climate.” 

The Society of United Professionals is actively campaigning to reverse the cuts to legal aid. The union’s leadership and members are working with allies and community groups to speak out and defend access to justice in Ontario. 

"ALS staff have been attempting to have concerns addressed for some time - we hope the introduction of the union will be an incentive to work together with management and our Board of Directors,” said Angie Assinewe, who works as the Gladue Caseworker Coordinator at ALS. “We care deeply about the work we do and see unionization as a way to strengthen the organization through meaningful employee involvement. Now we can problem solve collectively as union members.”

Aboriginal Legal Services has a provincial mandate and employees work on the frontlines navigating the justice system to protect the interests of Indigenous people and their rights. The organization has grown significantly over the years due to the demand for Gladue reports. Gladue is a sentencing principle which recognizes that Indigenous Peoples face systemic discrimination in the criminal law system. This principle attempts to deal with the crisis of overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in custody through changing how judges sentence.  

Aboriginal Legal Services employees join more than 8,000 Society of United Professionals members, which include the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Willowdale Community Legal Services, and Legal Aid Ontario. The Society of United Professionals now represents more than 450 legal professionals and is committed to expanding its membership in this sector.

The Society of United Professionals continues to look for new opportunities to represent new groups of workers. Interested employees can contact Society of United Professionals Organizer Michelle LeBlanc at [email protected] to discuss making their working life better. 

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