Hi all, Haran here from the Campaign Committee. We have heard from a number of staff about a FAQ [or more accurately…a FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)] from the Directors General. The DGs from all regions have sent out this same “personal” message to the staff that report to them.
To my mind when an employer tells us a union won’t be beneficial, that signals we really need a union…
Still, questions raised by the employer are out there, so once more into the fray:
1. How will the employment relationship change?
We, as lawyers of LAO, will gain the ability to collectively bargain with our employer in a democratic process to shape the terms and conditions of employment. One of the reasons we chose The Society as our representative was their ability and commitment to help us reach out to lawyers all across the province. It is important that lawyers in every region have an equal voice in this process.
The priorities for bargaining will not be determined by a small number of elected representatives, but democratically and collectively by all of us.
Have you ever had our employer unilaterally determine the terms of your employment? (I have: for instance the LWS, the addition then removal of hours to our day, etc.) A collective agreement changes that arrangement.
A collective agreement is the product of negotiations with our employer. Once in writing, this agreement necessarily removes some of the rights of management to unilaterally decide the conditions and policies that determine our work. If management is unhappy with a collective agreement, perhaps it’s because they have to deal with the protections (or in LAO’s terms, “confines”) of a collective agreement.
2. How will unionization impact client service?
Part of the reason we have broad support across the province is that LAO Lawyers are concerned with the direction of LAO — specifically with respect to client service.
Remember that this vote is a result of having to sue LAO in order to have our rights recognized. We marshaled expert evidence from lawyers unionized across Canada (see materials filed on our behalf here, here, & here)
My understanding of the evidence tendered in Court is that collective bargaining actually enhances autonomy and professionalism.
Isn’t it curious that LAO hasn’t linked or emailed out their expert evidence? We’re lawyers. We deal with evidence, not innuendo and speculation. There has been absolutely no evidence proffered by LAO to suggest there would be a negative impact on client service.
LAO indicates they are concerned about strikes or lockouts — so are we. We have an obligation to our profession first and foremost — before LAO, and before our union. We suggest that LAO could agree on binding arbitration as a mechanism to resolve any collective bargaining impass.
So why the FUD emails? Because what a collective bargaining agreement really does is prevent our employer from unilaterally imposing rules or policies, including ones that may compromise our professionalism.
3. What role can the union play in getting us more space in courthouses?
Staff priorities become LAO priorities when we raise them with a collective voice. We are confident a strong collective agreement will have greater influence on addressing concerns, such as space, than we could as individuals. That extends to other issues as well, including ensuring our employer provides adequate resources, training, and opportunities for career development.
4. How will unionization contribute to a diverse workplace?
Collective bargaining provides us a mechanism, including a binding grievance procedure, for promoting and protecting diversity in the workplace.
LAO is wildly speculating about our bargaining priorities but WE determine those priorities as members of the union. We are an autonomous bargaining unit — we don’t have to negotiate seniority criteria into the contract, or we can — the point is the choice is ours. The natural corollary is this — how is seniority criteria presently used by LAO, if at all?
We as campaign committee members and frontline staff are diverse. It’s one of the reasons I was attracted to the idea of LAO. But I certainly have questions about LAO standing “by its record of commitment to diversity” when I look at the executive, senior management, and board level diversity.
We’re still reaching out to all staff if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to write to us at email@example.com