Employees of Willowdale Community Legal Services unanimously voted to join the Society of United Professionals, IFPTE Local 160.
“We are proud that these brave Willowdale Community Legal Services employees have chosen to be our members,” said Scott Travers, President of the Society of United Professionals. “It is a critical time to come together and organize against the Ford government’s catastrophic legal aid cuts that are hurting both frontline legal aid workers and their clients.”
“The Society of United Professionals is proud to provide a platform for legal aid workers to speak out and organize to defend access to justice in Ontario.”
Willowdale Community Legal Services (WCLS) employees join existing Society of United Professionals members from Legal Aid Ontario and the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic in the campaign to stop legal aid cuts. The Society of United Professionals represents more than 400 legal professionals and is committed to expanding its membership in this sector.
The employees at WCLS expect to be affected by the Ford government’s cuts to legal aid funding and see unionizing as an opportunity to strengthen their legal clinic.
“We’re the people who deal with clients every day and are intimately involved in the running of the clinic. Unionization is a way for us to amplify our voice and ideas in clinic decision-making within the context of cuts,” says Rola Hamdan, who has been a Community Legal Worker at WCLS for over 16 years. “We’re looking forward to joining other members of the Society of United Professionals in advocating for a properly-funded legal aid system.”
WCLS employees are the second group that have joined the Society of United Professionals in 2019. In 2018, professional employees of the National Judicial Institute and the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic joined the union, as did the information technology professionals at Toronto Hydro.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss making their working life better.