I will fearlessly and tirelessly fight and campaign to protect our rights, our jobs, and our clients, be it through government lobbying, rallies, building coalitions, or other actions. This is especially pertinent given the recent funding cuts.
I will ensure that LAO respects our Collective Agreement rights and entitlements. I will challenge and hold LAO accountable when they do not. I will be timely, efficient and effective in representing our members when conflicts arise. I will hold LAO to the highest standards of transparency, accountability and fairness.
Member Health and Safety: I will work to Create Safe and Healthy Workspaces
Our Voice and Influence: I will work with our Members to Develop the LAO Lawyers Voice to be Respected, Credible and Influential
1. I will fearlessly and tirelessly fight and campaign to protect our rights, our jobs, and our clients, be it through government lobbying, rallies, building coalitions, or other actions.
I promise to fight for our rights. The role of the LVP is to represent members. My track record demonstrates that I will fearlessly and tirelessly fight and campaign to protect the rights of each and every member, our jobs, and our clients. I have participated in innumerable government rallies, protests and lobbying events, at Queen’s Park, at the Premier’s Office, at MPPs constituency offices, and at political fundraisers and events. I am a frequent public speaker at rallies and protests on behalf of LAO Lawyers. I have challenged our CEO in person and in print. I have challenged the Board of Directors of LAO. I volunteered to be a named applicant in our constitutional challenge. I volunteered to be the affiant in that same challenge. I swore affidavits and was prepared to testify in court against our employer. I took these actions in furtherance of our rights to collectively bargain, to associate, to choose our bargaining agent and now to stop the legal aid cuts.
I have a demonstrated history of doing what it takes to accomplish the goal at hand. As our LVP, I will continue to steadfastly fight for our rights. In the face of unprecedented provincial funding cuts, now more than ever, we need dedication and fearlessness in our fight to protect our rights, our jobs and our clients.
As I am doing now, I will work together with my colleagues and members of the LAO Lawyers Local in this and all fights for our rights. We are stronger aligned. We are stronger together.
2. I will ensure that LAO respects our Collective Agreement rights and entitlements. I will challenge and hold LAO accountable when they do not. I will be timely, efficient and effective in representing our members when conflicts arise. I will hold LAO to the highest standards of transparency, accountability and fairness.
I will ensure that LAO respects our Collective Agreement rights and entitlements and challenge and hold them accountable when they do not. The role of the LVP is to safeguard these. I do not take this responsibility lightly.
I promise to be transparent with our membership, accountable to our membership and fair and just-minded at all times. I have been and will continue to be a champion for transparency, fairness and accountability at LAO.
I will strive to hold LAO to these same standards in their dealings with our union and our members.
As the ILC representative working on representational issues and throughout bargaining I have brought pressure and incentive upon LAO to be fair, transparent and accountable. I remind LAO of the benefits of working in a transparent workplace, of the value of trust, of the shared goals of our membership with LAO and of the need to share information, projects and concerns with us for the betterment of LAO and the clients we serve. This is especially true in the current political and fiscal environment.
We are all aware that LAO has a history and culture of opaqueness. This is a part of what led myself and our colleagues to organize collectively. Just as in those times, when I did not hesitate to sign on as a named applicant in the Charter challenge or to speak out publicly against LAO and the government for refusing to recognize our constitutional rights, I will not back down from holding LAO to the letter of our Collective Agreement and our legal rights contained within it.
I will hold LAO to account for the promises it has made to us in our Collective Agreement. LAO has entered into a binding agreement with us, all of us. It is imperative that we ensure that our rights under the Collective Agreement are upheld.
A Collective Agreement and unionization are about due process, something that as lawyers we understand well. I will fight to ensure that all members in our local are treated fairly by LAO.
My promise of transparency also means ensuring that your union is transparent with you. Our obtaining information but not sharing it with the membership means nothing - and so I also promise strong communication and collaboration with our membership.
3. I will communicate and collaborate with our members. I will ensure we have an informed and actively engaged local membership.
Communication and collaboration were another central theme to our unionization efforts. LAO lawyers are strong, educated and intelligent. We know our work and our clients and the justice sectors we work within. We know the stakeholders. As LVP, I will ensure that it is the voice of the members that is communicated to LAO, the Society and all other stakeholders. This is only possible through a strong and viable communication and collaboration strategy which I am prepared to
I will work with the unit directors and delegates to establish a communication network that works across Ontario. We will bring information to you but also gather your thoughts and concerns on issues at LAO and on external issues that affect our working conditions, the broader public sectors in which we work and/or our clients.
I will engage in regular dialogue with unit directors and delegates. My goal would be to check in at a minimum of weekly with delegates either personally or through the unit directors to ensure that delegates are aware and involved in all level of activity of the LAO Lawyers Local and that delegates are regularly engaged with the membership.
Each member should know who their delegate is and how to communicate with them. Delegates should be comfortable reaching out to the members they represent and should do so regularly. I will ensure that delegates have information to share both ways and that the communication they engage in with members is purpose based and collaborative. Our members are intelligent, educated and socially-conscious and active, our Local’s strength is in our members. I will work to draw this strength out to the forefront of our activities.
I will continue to prepare newsletters and update the content for our website in order to inform the membership. I will look to the membership to advise on the issues that are relevant and pertinent to them.
I will continue to work with members of our bargaining unit on Working Groups such as the Service Integration Working Group and the Summary Legal Advice Family Working Groups. Our membership has participated in a number of surveys which we used to identify interests in bargaining and to better understand the specifics of issues affecting our membership. I have personally created some of these surveys and will continue to create and use surveys to collect information to better serve our membership.
I will ensure that two-way communication and collaboration occurs at all levels of the LAO Lawyers Local.
My goal is that members will feel connected and committed to the LAO Lawyers Local and that members will feel that our elected representatives are connected and committed to them.
4. I will work to create healthy, safe and harassment- and discrimination-free workspaces for all members.
I know that our members struggle with unsafe workplaces, sometimes this is due to issues of physical space but it is also due to harassment and discrimination and a lack of respect from our employer and from other stakeholders and members of the bar. LAO is in need of a better understanding of appropriate workplace behaviours and the meaning of harassment and toxic and poisoned workplace. I have worked with members who have struggled to obtain proper accommodations from LAO. I will work with each member, and with the delegates and unit directors to support members, in order to ensure that LAO meets its duty to accommodate. These are issues that I will bring to LAO and hold them accountable to meeting their legal obligations.
LAO has a lot of work to do on equity, diversity and inclusiveness. We need the involvement of our membership and of external resources to help LAO improve on this front. These issues are a part of a healthy and safe workplace but they are so much more than that too. I recognize this and want to work with you address these issues.
LAO should be an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace and yet I know that it is not. Too often lip service is paid to these issues.Words without real action and without trying something different from the status quo is not supporting equity, diversity and inclusiveness. We need to become comfortable with the discomfort of recognizing our weakness and failures in creating an equitable and inclusive workspace. We need to pressure LAO to create supports and opportunities for those seeking diversity to grow, to feel supported and a part of LAO. This will not be an easy task. This is a culture shift.
As part of our Collective Agreement we have a Letter of Understanding with LAO to conduct a review of historically disadvantaged and/or underrepresented groups employed with LAO, to consider if special programs are required and to make recommendations on recruitment, retention and job security as examples. This work, in particular, will require the expertise of equity-seeking representatives. I promise to create the space and environment to support my equity-seeking colleagues to address these issues. I understand and appreciate however that these issues are larger than the equity protections letter of understanding. I want to be a stronger ally. I want to create space and to make LAO, our bargaining unit, our representatives and the Society at large a more equitable, diverse and inclusive environment.
5. I will build LAO Lawyers to be a respected, credible and influential voice. I will develop that voice with our membership and ensure that it is the voice of our members’ interests and needs.
We have a new opportunity now that we have a collective voice. While our work should speak for itself, too often, due to power dynamics and other influences beyond our control, we do not garner the respect that we deserve. We unionized because our voices were not being heard at LAO and by other stakeholders. I am committed to building the strength of our voice and having it heard across the justice sector. I want to work with you to build our voice, to share the work we do and to become a respected voice within legal and political communities. The voice of LAO lawyers should be seen as authoritative on issues of criminal, family and immigration law and access to justice. We are the experts in the work that we do. The LSO, MAG, Minister of Justice, LAO and others should listen to us when there is talk on these issues.
In order to accomplish this, I want to work with our members to develop our voice and what we have to say. Our voice must reflect our membership and I cannot know that without your input, involvement and collaboration. I have spent the last 8 years meeting with LAO staff lawyers, participating in townhalls and making phone calls. I have formed and led working groups within our membership. I will continue to do this so that I can represent our collective voice with authority and conviction. But I also know that I can never speak as an LAO family or refugee lawyer or as a senior litigator or as policy counsel or as one of the many other roles within our membership that I have not held. I recognize this and I promise to call on you when the voices of those specifically affected and/or informed are needed. This is the power of a union to work together. This is what I promise to the LAO Lawyers Bargaining Unit if I am elected.