More frontline workers at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) offices – Toronto Central District and Refugee Law Office – have voted unanimously to join OPSEU.
“Facing nearly $300 million in cuts this year and next, it’s easy to see why every single one of these workers wanted to join us,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “When you’ve got a government as cruel and chaotic as Doug Ford’s, frontline workers need a strong, powerful union like OPSEU.
OPSEU has achieved significant benefits for Legal Aid Ontario workers including annual wage increases of six per cent by 2022. In addition, OPSEU’s Legal Aid Ontario members have a far more cost-effective benefits plan than those who are not part of the union.
“On behalf of the entire Executive Board and all of our 155,000 members, I want to welcome them,” said Thomas. “Together, we’ll fight the Ford cuts. And we’ll win.”
These new LAO members join more than 300 other LAO workers who have joined OPSEU.
“Legal Aid Ontario workers are a lifeline for tens of thousands of Ontarians and refugees trying to navigate our justice system,” said Kareen Marshall, chair of OPSEU’s Community Agencies division.
“By fighting for less precarious wages and working conditions, they’re fighting to provide even better services to the people who need them.”
Ontario’s Legal Aid system is facing drastic cuts from the Ford government: $130 million this year and another $160 million next year. The government has also ordered the agency to reduce significantly the support it offers to refugee claimants.
“Access to justice is supposed to be a key element to our democratic system. But if the Ford government gets away with these cuts, justice will be something that only applies to the rich,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.
“But with all these new Legal Aid members, we’ll make sure that never happens.”