Today, paralegals working at the Law Society filed an application at the Labour Relation Board to join the Law Society Lawyers chapter of the Professional Employees Association. Paralegals have decided on this step in order to win greater parity and transparency in wages and benefits, recognition for their contributions, and the protections, security, and greater voice that comes with union membership.
This email is being sent to answer some initial questions about paralegals joining the Law Society chapter.
What does this mean for Law Society lawyers?
More members in the Law Society chapter means greater power for Law Society lawyers in collective bargaining. A larger chapter will translate into more leverage, making it possible to win an even stronger collective agreement for everyone.
Why didn’t we hear about this earlier?
Organizing a union is a protected right in British Columbia, but it can still be stressful and difficult to undertake, and intimidation and threats do occur. In order to ensure they were able to discuss unionizing in the most open, safe, and protected way, paralegals decided not to go public before applying for certification.
How was the decision made to allow paralegals to join the Law Society Lawyers chapter?
According to the PEA constitution, in order for a new group of workers to join an existing chapter, both the PEA executive committee and the chapter executive committee need to approve the organizing drive. After reviewing a number of different criteria, including the similarities between the prospective members and incumbent members and the contributions the group could make to the chapter, the committees decided that it was in the best interest of the PEA as a whole, and the Law Society Lawyers chapter in particular, to approve the drive.
What happens next?
Within five days there will be a hearing at the Labour Relations Board where officials will review the signed membership cards and the application, and the employer will have an opportunity to respond. If there are no major barriers or objections raised—and we don’t believe there will be any—the certification will be approved, and the Law Society chapter will be expanded to include paralegals.
At the upcoming chapter AGM on October 26, 2023, members will have the opportunity to update the constitution to reflect the expanded membership.
A paralegal member will join the bargaining committee to best ensure the experience and perspective of the new members is included.
If you have more questions, you can speak with your Labour Relations Officer, Brett Harper (250-385-8791 ext 206 or email@example.com), or members of the LSL Executive Jessica Abells, Kathleen Bradley, and Manika Rajan.