In a media release issued October 3, The Society called on Legal Aid Ontario to end its delay tactics and allow the Ontario Labour Relations Board to count the ballots of Legal Aid articling students, who voted four months ago on whether to join The Society.
The media release can be read in full below:
Legal Aid Ontario Thwarts Democracy by Refusing to Open Ballot Box at OLRB
TORONTO, Oct. 3, 2016 /CNW/ – A vote to determine whether articling students employed by government agency Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) was held by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) over four months ago and the ballots have yet to be counted due to Legal Aid Ontario’s continued attempts to undermine their employees’ democratic rights.
LAO’s continued efforts to delay the opening of the ballot box is happening in the midst of a larger campaign in which the lawyers at LAO are preparing for a vote to secure representation with the same union that the articling students have cast ballots to join, The Society of Energy Professionals (The Society).
LAO’s most recent effort to stop articling students from unionizing was deemed invalid in a decision of the OLRB released onSeptember 21, 2016. The decision dealt with the spurious claim advanced by LAO that The Society was not a legal union. The OLRB dismissed LAO’s claim as unfounded because LAO had no evidence to support their claim. The full decision is available at http://laolawyers.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/LAO-AS-OLRB-Decision-Sept-21-2016.pdf.
Even after this resounding loss and despite repeated requests to open the ballot box, LAO still refuses. The provincial agency contends that the articling students should be separated into seven separate bargaining units throughout the province. This will require more hearing dates, more delay, and another ruling by the OLRB. What makes this all so preposterous is that LAO, in regards to its staff lawyers, has signed an agreement with The Society, before the OLRB decision referred to above, that not only acknowledges The Society is a legal entity but which also agrees to a single, province-wide bargaining unit for the lawyers if they vote to join the Society later this month.
“They can’t have it both ways,” said Scott Travers, president of The Society. “They can’t sign an agreement with us that acknowledges our legal status and offers some employees — their staff lawyers — a single bargaining unit and then before the OLRB put forward a completely contradictory argument for another set of employees — articling students — that they should have their democratic wishes denied. Not only is this thwarting the democratic process for these employees but it is a total waste of taxpayers’ money to spend months in public hearings over frivolous and hypocritical arguments.”
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Legal Aid Ontario it’s that management will say and do anything to prevent employees from securing their collective bargaining rights,” Travers continued.
The Society’s efforts to secure collective bargaining rights with Legal Aid articling students and staff lawyers will continue.