OFL President ChrisBuckley proudly rallied with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) lawyers, who for the second time in as many weeks, gathered outside a Liberal Party fundraiser in Toronto.
The Society of Energy Professionals and organizers with the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign joined the picketing Legal Aid lawyers to call on the Premier Kathleen Wynne and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi to end the discriminatory campaign against Legal Aid lawyers.
The Ontario Liberals have ignored repeated calls from Legal Aid lawyers for collective bargaining rights with the union of their choice, The Society of Energy Professionals.
“LAO lawyers provide legal services to the most vulnerable Ontarians. They work for families, the poor, refugees and young people who need help. Yet, like many Ontario workers, these lawyers’ right to their own collective voice is being ignored by the government,” OFL President Chris Buckley.
“We are largely more marginalized than other groups, our pay is certainly lowest … Our hope is that if we are able to get some sort of collective bargaining agreement, we’ll have better workplace protections,” said LAO spokesperson Dana Fisher, adding: “This is the government hoping it’ll go away.”
Ironically, the approximately 300 LAO lawyers, who represent some of the most vulnerable and marginalized Ontarians, are one of the last groups of provincial public sector lawyers unable to exercise their right to join a union, resulting in the inability to address workplace concerns. Unlike other public sector lawyers, two-thirds of Legal Aid lawyers are female, and many are racialized people.
“Everyone deserves fair representation – lawyers included! LAO lawyers shouldn’t have to launch a Charter challenge just to be able to form a union! Shame on the Ontario government,” added Buckley.
The OFL’s call for the Government of Ontario to STOP denying Legal Aid lawyers their Charter rights is part of its ongoing Make It Fair awareness campaign to push for an overhaul of the province’s outdated employment laws for the more than seven million workers Ontarians in the workforce.
The OFL has also joined non-unionized workers, students and community groups in the “Fight for $15 and Fairness” campaign, for stronger employment laws that protect all workers. For more information on the campaign, visit www.15andfairness.org.