Justice moves slowly // News

DOJ lawyers seek salaries on par with the province.

By Precedent

On Thursday March 6th, 2008

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Solidarity forever,” is a famous refrain of the labour movement. In the case of lawyers’ negotiations with the federal Department of Justice, the emphasis seems to be on “forever.” Collective bargaining between the feds and the Association of Justice Counsel, representing 2,300 lawyers working for the DOJ, has been going for nearly 16 months with no resolution. The end might be near, or it might not — mediation began last fall, and a communications ban prevents the parties from talking publicly.

“It’s always been our goal to reach the earliest possible agreement with the employer,” said AJC president Patrick Jetté.

The AJC is seeking substantial pay raises (between 35 and 45 percent, depending on the pay grade) plus 3.75 percent boosts over  the next two years. That will only bring DOJ lawyers to parity with their cousins at Queen’s Park. Right now, the feds make on average two-thirds the salary of those working for the Ontario AG, and in some cases one third what they could make in the private sector.

The union’s December negotiation update to its members hints at restlessness brewing amongst the rank-and-file. “We know that you … are losing patience with the process,” it reads. “Negotiating our first collective agreement is complex and time-consuming. Let us continue to stand together.” Negotiations start up again this month.