Major breakthrough in Legal Aid lawyers’ campaign for collective bargaining rights
The Legal Aid lawyers’ campaign for their right to collectively bargain took a major step forward today. Following an intense pressure campaign, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) finally agreed to come to the bargaining table to negotiate with the lawyers’ union of choice, The Society of Energy Professionals.
The Society and LAO will enter into negotiations in the coming days regarding recognition of The Society as the bargaining agent for Legal Aid lawyers, and to establish a framework for collective bargaining.
“Thirty-nine months of showing our employer and the provincial government how committed we are to forming a union is finally paying off,” said Dana Fisher, a Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyer and leader in the campaign for the lawyers’ union rights. “We always knew that getting our employer to the bargaining table would be a significant challenge — and now we have overcome that hurdle.”
In recent weeks, Legal Aid lawyers and The Society ratcheted up pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to stop the discrimination against these lawyers. With a series of protests at Liberal fundraisers and outside key ministers’ Liberal constituency offices, the pressure campaign generated significant public awareness and media coverage.
“I have never seen a group of workers as determined and dogged in their pursuit of collective bargaining rights as these Legal Aid lawyers,” said Society President Scott Travers. “I am confident this breakthrough would not have been possible without the pressure Legal Aid lawyers and The Society exerted on the Wynne government and Legal Aid Ontario with the help of allies like the Ontario Federation of Labour.”
“Though we will move toward a normal, respectful bargaining relationship with Legal Aid Ontario, we will continue this public campaign until an agreement to recognize these lawyers’ collective bargaining rights is final,” Travers concluded.
The next public event will be tomorrow morning. The Legal Aid lawyers’ campaign will picket the Ontario Liberal Women’s Caucus golf tournament fundraiser at Milton’s Rattlesnake Point Golf Club. Two-thirds of Legal Aid lawyers are women.