Articling students employed by Legal Aid Ontario have voted to unionize with The Society of United Professionals. The vote was confirmed after ballots were counted on November 30, 2016.
“The Society is delighted to welcome articling students to our ranks,” said Society president Scott Travers. “I am looking forward to negotiating a first collective agreement with Legal Aid Ontario that is a true win-win.”
Articling students are also excited to have representation in the workplace that understands their professional obligations and can help them achieve better working conditions.
“Articling students face unique challenges at this pivotal time beginning their legal career,” said former articling student Garrett Zehr, who was a leader within the campaign to organize articling students into The Society and is now a Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyer. “Joining the union will give LAO articling students a collective voice and create a healthier balance of power with the employer. These are reasons why we are excited to join the Society as members.”
Voting occurred throughout the week of May 24, 2016 while the ballots were counted on November 30, 2016. Of the 33 ballots counted, 88% voted in favour of joining The Society. The number of articling students currently employed by LAO is approximately 30.
While The Society traditionally represented professionals in the energy sector, it is affiliated to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. The IFPTE represents a broad range of professionals including lawyers and judges. With that experience, professionals outside the energy sector are now looking more closely at joining The Society because of the increasingly precarious nature of professional work.
“Collective bargaining offers professionals a democratic process to raise concerns and find solutions that improve their working conditions,” said Society President Travers. “Professionals face a long road to establish themselves in their fields. They deserve to be treated with decency and respect at every point along the way.”
“That is why The Society will continue to bring the opportunities that come with collective bargaining to professionals in all sectors.”