Legal Aid Ontario lawyers have voted to join The Society of United Professionals. On October 26, the Ontario Labour Relations Board announced that 76% of Legal Aid lawyers had voted in favour of joining the union. Society president Scott Travers released the following statement to members about the outcome of the vote:
I have exciting news to share with you. Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) lawyers voted to join The Society. The new LAO unit marks the first time professionals from outside the energy sector have become Society members.
Part of what makes today’s news so sweet is the difficult road we travelled to get here.
Legal Aid lawyers first asked to join The Society four years ago. We knew it would require the consent of their employer but we didn’t expect Legal Aid Ontario and the provincial government to put up such vigorous opposition. To overcome the employer’s resistance The Society and Legal Aid lawyers ran a relentless campaign. From creating petitions that showed overwhelming support among lawyers for joining The Society and filing a legal challenge to lobbying the government and staging rallies, we did everything we could to keep the pressure on.
It finally paid off. With a landmark agreement, we forced LAO to respect the lawyers’ right to choose their collective bargaining agent. Last week LAO lawyers voted on whether to become members of The Society. Given the choice I am proud to say that a resounding 76% of Legal Aid lawyers elected to join The Society. The 354 LAO lawyers become our union’s 15th local.
While today we celebrate and welcome our newest members, there is more work to come to win fairness for Legal Aid lawyers. Next, our LAO members will begin the process of negotiating their first collective agreement by working collaboratively with their employer. I know all Society members will be there to support them through this process.