All the employees at the Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) Peel York District office have voted to join OPSEU.
“I’m not one bit surprised that it was unanimous,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Our new members do exactly the same work done by people in the other Legal Aid Offices around the province, so why shouldn’t they get the same pay and benefits?”
“Now that they’ve joined OPSEU, they’ll have a strong voice at the bargaining table, and we’ll make sure they’re heard loud and clear,” said Thomas.
The Peel York District legal aid workers are just the latest to join OPSEU. Over the past year, workers at the Central District (with offices in Barrie, Peterborough, and Oshawa), the North Toronto District (with four offices in Scarborough), and the Essex-Lambton-Kent District Office (with offices in Sarnia, Windsor, and Chatham) have also joined the 155,000-member union.
OPSEU now represents some 300 members at Legal Aid Ontario who provide back office support in policy, IT, and finance, as well as front-facing workers supporting the provision of legal services to Ontarians in need.
“There’s strength in numbers and I’m happy to see that the number of Legal Aid Ontario workers joining OPSEU continues to grow,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “The 155,000 members of OPSEU will help increase their strength at the bargaining table, and they’ll help increase the strength of OPSEU overall.”
Kareen Marshall, the chair of OPSEU’s Community Agencies Division, said joining OPSEU won’t just help the Legal Aid workers, it will also help the people who those workers are serving.
“Legal Aid workers across the province care deeply about the jobs they do,” said Marshall. “When they have a real say in the workplace, they’re able to offer even higher-quality services to people, families, and communities.”